Artificial intelligence is now leveraged in a number of different ways, such as personal financial management (PFM) tools, fraud monitoring and alerting systems and customer service chatbots.

In these fintech examples, AI is helping to aggregate customer and marketplace data, providing a more relevant experience for consumers and boosting the efficiency of back-office operations.

However, other areas are starting to leverage AI that haven’t been getting as much attention, such as payments testing.

When payment systems aren’t properly or completely tested, financial services organizations make it easier on fraudsters to identify and exploit vulnerabilities at ATMs and other venues, according to Paragon's Steve Gilde. IMAGE: Getty Images

Today’s consumer has a seemingly endless array of ways to pay available to them. As the number of payment platforms, apps and consumer endpoints continues to increase, the entire payment ecosystem is growing more sophisticated and complex.

Unfortunately, many organizations’ testing capabilities have not kept pace. Too many financial services providers are still largely relying on dated testing systems developed in the 1980s that depend on manual testing in physical labs. As a result, this testing takes entirely too long, covers only a fraction of the possible test scenarios and leaves the organization vulnerable to outages and failed customer experiences.

From massive data breaches to jackpotting at the ATM, it is clear that fraud and cyberattacks continue to permeate the industry, making any vulnerability a significant problem. When payment systems aren’t properly or completely tested, financial services organizations make it easier on fraudsters to identify and exploit vulnerabilities — a direct consequence of how much time and effort legacy methods require during testing.

And, as consumers expect increasingly more from every service provider, failed transactions may be viewed as an unforgivable mistake, putting the institution’s brand at risk. In order to stay ahead of the criminals, financial services providers must ensure that their testing is efficient, comprehensive and secure. Intelligent testing with next generation tools can play a large part in this ongoing battle.

“Intelligent” testing procedures are already available today, as some testing providers are delivering systems that can behave intelligently and autonomously. Testing technology has already evolved to a point where test systems can be configured to automatically accept an inbound request, identify where it came from and what test needs to be run, then run the test, respond appropriately and log the results. And, these automated processes can be available 24/7, every day of the year. This intelligent behavior increases speed, efficiency and accuracy of the overall testing process, freeing up QA staff from having to manually manage and sort test results. Instead, testers can shift their time and focus to more strategic and higher-value activities, like relationship management or developing new products and services.

While there is much more to be done, this type of intelligent testing can provide a significant edge. Over time, AI tools will have the ability to analyze the experiences of consumers as they pay and then predict and prioritize payment testing scenarios to deliver more accurate and efficient testing scenarios. Clearly, an intelligent testing approach will allow financial services organizations to be more agile, enabling them to quickly and securely introduce new payment innovations with confidence.

Organizations that fail to update and enhance their testing platforms and policies will fall further and further behind.

In today’s landscape, where customer expectations are higher than ever and security threats continue to proliferate, financial services providers can no longer afford to leave payments testing on the back burner. Transforming payments testing through new technologies, like AI, should be embraced as a necessary evolution in an overall testing strategy.

By investing in next-generation strategies and shifting their mindsets about testing, organizations can better safeguard and control the payments process, providing a more reliable customer experience and better protecting one of their most important assets — their reputations.

Steve Gilde

Steve Gilde

Steve Gilde is director of global payments for Paragon.