The security and integrity of payment systems is paramount. Testing your payment system using test cards is imperative to ensure your systems are reliable, secure, and compliant. But what is the best way to test payments, and why is it crucial for fraud prevention?

What is Payment Testing?

Payment testing refers to testing the functionality and security of a payment system or application. All components of a payment system can be tested, such as the payment processor(s), payment gateway, and payment methods, to ensure that they are working correctly and securely. Test transactions are needed to test payment systems properly. Test cards and environments allow developers and payment processors to simulate transactions without real-world financial implications.

Testing becomes even more vital as digital transactions become more frequent and numerous. The recent rise in the prominence of generative AI has been particularly influential regarding fraud. Testing is not just a technical procedure; it’s a commitment to ensuring systems are secure, safeguarding both businesses and their customers in the broader context of fraud prevention.

Take a deeper dive into these topics below:

How Do You Use Test Cards to Test Payments?

Test cards are used as the payment method for test transactions instead of active payment cards to verify the validity and functionality of payment systems. You can use test cards in several test scenarios, such as

  • Successful payments by card brand or country.
  • Card errors due to declines or fraud.
  • Invalid data disputes and refunds.

This procedure is almost always conducted in controlled environments, such as a sandbox or non-production setting, ensuring that the simulated transactions have no real-world financial implications.

Why Is It Important to Test Payments?

Fraud Prevention

Our world is becoming progressively digital, and along with an increase in digital transactions comes an increase in fraudulent activities. The tools available to scammers are also becoming more and more sophisticated. Generative AI, in particular, has increased the opportunities for fraudsters via deepfakes, voice spoofing, email phishing, synthetic identity fraud, and document forgery fraud.

The primary goal of testing payments is to prevent fraud and ensure smooth transactions. Fraudsters continually seek out opportunities to exploit weaknesses in the digital payment process. Testing helps businesses keep up with the latest fraud techniques and technology. Companies and dev teams can simulate various transaction scenarios to anticipate potential fraudulent activities, refine their security protocols, and enhance their fraud detection mechanisms.

User Experience and Trust

A great payment processing system isn’t just secure; it should also be reliable and provide an intuitive experience for users. Frictionless transactions are paramount, as even the smallest frustration can result in an abandoned cart and loss of sales. Testing systems can catch bugs or errors that might result in a less-than-satisfactory customer experience.

Plus, while the end-user, a customer or client, may not be aware of the time and resources invested in rigorous testing, they will likely notice if a security breach or error occurs. Companies can build trust by proactively implementing payment testing to prevent security breaches or errors. Consumer trust is invaluable, fostering loyalty and encouraging more end-users to engage in online transactions without hesitation.

The Benefits of Testing

Risk Mitigation

Testing in a controlled environment ensures that any errors or issues do not have real-world financial consequences. Testing protects both the business and the end-users from potential financial losses.

Maintaining System Integrity

By verifying the validity and functionality of payment cards, businesses can ensure that their payment systems are working as intended. This is crucial for maintaining the integrity of transactions and ensuring that customers have a consistent payment experience.

Identifying System Vulnerabilities

Testing in a sandbox environment helps developers identify and address potential vulnerabilities in the payment system. This is a proactive approach to ensure vulnerabilities are corrected before the system goes live, enhancing the overall security.

Performance Evaluation

A controlled testing environment allows businesses to assess the performance of their payment systems. They can evaluate how the system handles high transaction volumes, latency issues, and other performance-related factors.

Enhanced Development and Debugging

Developers benefit greatly from sandbox environments. They can simulate various transaction scenarios, identify bugs, and rectify them without the fear of causing real-world disruptions.

Maintaining Regulatory Compliance

Many industries have strict regulations regarding payment processing. Testing in a controlled environment ensures that businesses meet these regulatory standards, reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential legal repercussions.

To learn more about digital transaction compliance, read our article about payment security and PCI DSS.

Building Consumer Trust

As we previously mentioned, consumers may not be aware that they are benefiting from testing specifically, but they will notice the negative impact of security breaches and errors. Businesses can build trust with consumers by offering a payment process that is smooth and consistent. Consumer trust is paramount for creating repeat customers and driving sales.

Cost Savings

Identifying and rectifying issues in a sandbox environment can lead to significant cost savings. Addressing defects during the early stages of development is much less costly than in the late stages or post-deployment. Plus, once your payment solution is deployed any errors can result in reputational damage and possible loss of sales.

Facilitates Continuous Improvement

A controlled testing environment promotes a culture of continuous improvement. Developers can regularly test and refine the payment system, ensuring it remains updated with the latest technologies and security protocols.

Prevents Real Data Exposure

Using card details from unverified test cards can expose sensitive data to potential threats. Though it is unlikely, a randomly generated number may be tied to an actual payment card and can result in charges. Payment processors like Stripe® provide approved test card data for testing payment systems. We recommend using test cards provided by trusted financial institutions.

Additionally, testing in ‘test mode’ using a sandbox environment ensures that potentially sensitive data remains secure. We do not recommend testing cards in a live environment when possible. Sometimes, live testing is necessary. Be sure to check with your payment processor to make sure they allow live testing. If they support live testing, they may provide additional guidelines and require businesses to use specific test cards.

What Could Happen if You Don’t Protect Your Business?

If you don’t implement the appropriate protective measures, your business could experience negative consequences such as a surge in chargebacks. Lapses in security can also result in the accrual of unwarranted fees, accepting high-risk transactions, and even jeopardizing your ability to process payments.

Failure to implement proper testing procedures can result in:

  • Facing a surge in chargebacks.
  • Incurring unwarranted fees.
  • Accepting high-risk transactions.
  • Jeopardizing your payment processing right.
  • Becoming a conduit for more severe criminal activities.

Beyond Basic Payment Testing—Negative Testing

Negative testing is the deliberate input of invalid or unexpected data to evaluate how a payment system responds. The primary goal of negative testing is to ensure that the system can handle incorrect inputs or scenarios gracefully without causing disruptions, vulnerabilities, or exposing sensitive information.

Methods of Negative Testing

The two most common ways to conduct negative testing are:

  • Using generated test card numbers to elicit a particular negative response.
  • Pairing test card numbers with transaction amounts within specific ranges to trigger specific negative responses.

Most payment processors and gateways provide ways to simulate card and ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments. Additionally, there are several universally recognized test cards available you can use for testing.

See the table below for some of the most commonly used test cards and accounts.

Negative testing isn’t just about identifying errors but anticipating them. By simulating negative responses, such as credit card declines or gateway errors, developers can better prepare their systems for real-world scenarios.

Clear Function’s Unique Method For Testing Payments

Testing should always be restricted to a non-production environment to prevent live card entries. While most payment pros are accustomed to testing with payment gateway sandboxes, we use a “fake gateway” we created to add a layer of security to our test environment. We do so because the testing methods employed by payment gateways can vary greatly. Using a fake gateway allows us to provide a consistent test environment using consistent methods that guarantee our clients receive accurate responses.

By understanding our clients and markets, we can tailor testing to include specific scenarios and rules, enhancing the overall security and efficiency of the payment process.

Our innovative payment solutions protect against a variety of fraud issues. Book a call with ustoday and see how we can help!

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