By Steve Gilde, Paragon Application Systems
Over the last decade, the payments landscape has grown increasingly complex. There has been a dramatic increase in the number and variety of payment options, a rising number of consumer managed devices and payment apps, as well as growing expectations from consumers for “always on,” “always there” capabilities. Financial services providers must be able to facilitate transactions any time and any way that their customers want to pay or risk losing their business to a proliferation of sophisticated competitors.
Even though the payments landscape has evolved significantly, the testing strategies used to ensure that increasingly complex payments systems remain reliable and secure have not always advanced at the same pace. In fact, many financial services providers continue to rely on testing methods that are several decades old, causing a growing discrepancy in what needs to be tested versus what scenarios actually get tested – i.e. the 80/20 rule.
A lack of modern testing tools also leads to critical security concerns. In an environment where data breaches, cyberattacks and other hacking techniques continue to make headlines, security must be a top priority. Payment systems that are not fully tested can present an easy, attractive target to hackers, making your organization attractive and vulnerable as “low hanging fruit.”
To correct this imbalance and embrace a more advance to testing, organizations should adopt a strategy that centers around virtualization and automation. Virtualization eliminates the need for testers to be attached to device simulators and machines, creating newfound flexibility. Many financial service providers have already made significant investments in virtualizing their IT infrastructure, and for good reason. Much of testing today involves QA testers manually running isolated tests from a physical lab, costing an inordinate amount of time and money. By taking tests that were once run manually and conducting them in the cloud, testers increase control, speed and accessibility of the testing process.
With a manual approach, testers often only test about 20 percent of total possible scenarios, leaving entirely too much to chance. Automation, on the other hand, liberates testers from repetitive, manual tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic initiatives and conduct tests more efficiently and quickly. Virtualization and automation of payments testing dramatically increases the number of tests that can be conducted in the same amount of time, boosting security, reliability and total code coverage.
As consumers continue to demand more numerous and complex payments options than ever before, quickly and efficiently deploying and testing these options will be a critical key to success. It’s not enough to simply make a payment option available; if the payment path isn’t properly tested, financial service providers run the potential of damaging outages or security breaches. Testing can no longer be placed on the backburner. An advanced, modern approach to testing should be continuous and agile, which can only be accomplished by leveraging automation and virtualization.
Steve Gilde is the director of global product marketing for Paragon Application Systems, the financial services industry’s leading provider of testing solutions.