Payment options have multiplied and significantly increased in sophistication. As new digital channels emerge on the scene, the choices available for how to pay will only continue to become more numerous and complex.

Despite this evolution in payments, a recent global CapGemini survey revealed that 47% of organizations don’t have the right process or method to test mobile applications, and 46% lack the proper tools.

Instead of investing in updated payment techniques, many financial service providers continue to rely on dated methods that were developed in the 1980s. These methods typically involve quality assurance (QA) staff manually leveraging desktop tools to conduct isolated tests in physical labs. These tests may take anywhere from four to six hours to set up, and only around 30 seconds to run, resulting in steep overhead and labor costs.

In addition to being inefficient and costly, this method is also risky. Testers are forced to run a wide variety of tests in an attempt to find specific critical errors, similar to shooting in the dark, hoping to hit something. As a result, only around 20% of total desired scenarios are actually tested, leaving entirely too much to chance.

These antiquated testing strategies result in code being deployed with a variety of vulnerabilities and bugs. These methods have never been desirable, but are especially dangerous today given the current payment landscape with its expanding number and variety of endpoints, consumer devices and payment apps.

When transactions fail, cardholders can experience a variety of emotions based on their situation. Maybe it’s a minor annoyance when a payment fails while trying to buy a latte, but a cardholder paying for a client’s dinner on a business trip may react to the same payment failure with embarrassment that turns into rage against the card issuer.

The most important asset any financial service organization possesses is its reputation, and reliability is the cornerstone of that asset. Organizations that provide payment services to consumers put their reputation on the line every day by compressing testing cycles, failing to invest in modern technology platforms and being satisfied with what they believe to be “good enough” testing.

The financial service providers that understand how difficult it is to recover from brand damage are already taking steps to assess their testing methodologies and utilize a next- generation strategy that’s a better fit for today’s complex landscape. Next-generation testing solutions leverage automation and virtualization to boost efficiency and comprehensiveness of the testing process.

Testing in a continuous, virtualized environment aligns more closely with the agile development strategies many financial service providers use today. And, virtualization frees testers from being glued to device simulators and machines, like ATMs, that come in many varieties. The cloud presents an ideal avenue to deploy these next-generation testing options. Cloud environments can revamp the testing process by delivering more efficiencies, access and collaboration than tests that are isolated in physical labs. This approach empowers financial service organizations to leverage and coordinate with teams regardless of their location, which is also helpful for recruiting top talent.

Embracing a next generation of testing must be approached as more than an IT replacement project. It should be an overall change in philosophy toward an agile development approach. Without a coordinated strategy across application development, testing and release disciplines, new solutions will be piecemeal at best. This change is one that must be approached at all levels of the organization, from the C-suite all the way down.

Despite the risks associated with relying on antiquated testing practices, all too often, testing is a topic put on the back burner and forgotten about until something goes wrong. And at that point, it’s unfortunately too late. Financial service companies must give testing the attention and resources it requires, or risk facing failed transactions and diluted customer loyalty. Adopting a next-generation strategy isn’t a quick fix; it will require a change in mindset and practices. But it is a strategic initiative that will reduce inefficiencies, boost risk management and ultimately allow for better customer service.

Mark Medlin

Mark Medlin

Mark Medlin is chief technology officer at Paragon Application Systems.