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The ultimate guide to payments testing

Today’s online businesses are wrestling with 20+ forms of payment, from traditional e-transfer to cryptocurrency to afterpay programs. Globalization adds different currencies, languages, and privacy concerns not present in real-world transactions.

Payments testing follows the money from when the customer decides to pay to when the money arrives in a business account. Performance issues in the payment flow at any point in the process can cause you to lose a sale or even a customer – whether it is B2B, B2C, or any other model. Both e-commerce sites and game apps on phones need reliable payments. The methods may differ, but the goal is the same.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about payments testing, including test strategies, use cases, and what to expect for results.

Table of Contents

What is Payment Testing?

Every step in the payments process must be checked individually (e.g., with unit testing) and as a whole (e.g., end-to-end testing). This can include testing the various components of the system, such as the payment gateway, payment processors, and payment methods, to ensure that they are working correctly and securely.

Chart showing the transaction flow of a payment processor

Payments testing aims to ensure that the payment system is reliable, secure, and compliant while providing an intuitive experience for users.

Types of Payment Testing

It can be wide-ranging, depending on what types of payments the software supports. Some software is released as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before additional iterative updates add more functionality. An MVP payment system might help a smaller set of payment types with others added later. E-commerce QA testing must have this information to provide the proper testing at the right stage of the deployment. Documenting these requirements is a necessary step, to begin with.

Specific types of payment testing include:

Functional testing

Usability testing


Protecting and encrypting financial data and personally identifiable information (PII).

Integration Testing

This is the phase of software testing where software modules are combined, requiring group testing. Integration testing evaluates the compliance of software or apps with specific functional requirements. Integration tests segment components or modules and verify the functionality of each one individually and as part of the group. 

Performance testing

Load testing

Testing with large numbers of simultaneous transactions to verify system capacity and reliability when under stress

UI testing

User interface testing (UI functionality, specifically. UI and UX testing is another 3,000-word guide) primarily seeks to validate the function of two types of user interactions: inputs and visual elements. Can your web app accurately read a mouse click? Does a user keyboard integrate into your app and perform as expected? Are buttons/links/submission forms functional?

Localization testing

Localization is the process of ensuring an application looks and feels right to the target user. Localization testing verifies an application’s functionality and usability in a specific region. It checks native UI, language, currency, date & time formatting to meet the standards of that country. It must use language correctly and align with cultural norms. 

Payment Testing on Real Devices

Many test plans rely on simulated testing environments using isolated systems or device farms. Credit card payment testing scenarios cannot be tested as easily through these methods. It’s challenging to set up a simulated financial system, including banks and credit card companies, and have their behavior match the systems you will be working with. While supporting testing on real devices in various locations requires additional work, it returns more benefits than a potentially flawed or limited test environment.

Testing teams worldwide can assess usability through various languages, currencies, and location-dependent factors (taxes, shipping, etc.). Credit card payment testing with real cards allows for tracking payments from the card company to the final bank. The best way to know if your payment system works is to use it.

The Rise of Digital Payment Methods

  • Online E-payment Systems: Bank transfers, e-checks, and wire transfers
  • Mobile Payment Apps: Venmo, PayPal, and others
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Point-of-Sale financing
  • Contactless Payment: NFC and MST technology for tab-enabled cards, smartphone digital wallets, or smartwatches
  • Digital Wallets: Apple Pay, Google Pay, or others
  • Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, or others that are not tied to banks or national currencies
Decorative photo of people with a globe connecting them

How to Test Payment Functionality

  • Scope: Detailing what payment types are supported, in what currencies, and from what locations to allow a test engineer to set the scope of the testing necessary
  • Use Cases and User Profiles: They create use cases and user profiles from there. ADD HERE 
  • Test Cases: The engineer then creates test cases detailing a step-by-step operation a tester will follow to test the function
  • Runs: The tester records the results each time the test case is run, specifying if it passes or fails and documenting any defects found
  • Data Analytics and Reports: As the tester gathers this information, analysis systems and reports use the data to report on the overall stability of the software

Payment Gateway Testing Use Cases

and third-party businesses. These five payment processing use cases illustrate the complexity of ensuring functional financial transactions across many payment platforms.

  • Credit Card Validation: Depending on the scope of support for credit cards, it can be necessary to validate different information depending on the location, currency, and banking system. When a user enters their information, various checks can be performed before processing to be sure it matches the expected formats.
  • Connection Status: When initiating a payment, the software must connect to an external processing system and maintain that connection until completion without time-outs. In case of disconnection, messages must be sent to both the user and external system, with a simple method, to resume the transaction.
  • Payment Confirmation: Once complete, the transaction must be confirmed and reported to the user. Additionally, the software for your company must record the payment confirmation.
  • Verify Other Transaction Data: All other information supported by your systems, such as taxes, legal requirements, and platform billing standards, must be checked after completing the transaction.

E-Commerce QA Testing

Photo with text that describes an ecommerce payments testing case study

Manual vs. Automated Payment Gateway Testing

On the other hand, manual testing of the user experience cannot be replaced with automation. Automated tests only compare the expected information, while manual testers can deliver a more subjective assessment of how smooth and friendly the process is. Another advantage of manual testing lies in using real payment methods worldwide. While designers creating automated tests try to simulate a variety of user paths, actual testers will be using paths presented by the software and appropriate to their location.

End-to-End Coverage

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to deliver a superior final product to your customer/client. Once you’ve planned out the scope, recruited staff, and run initial tests, it’s time to take hold of the E2E process. Delivering a world-class digital experience requires a consistently performant application across various end-user traffic patterns, network access locations, and device configurations. How will you maintain quality as you add new features, develop your product further, and expand your user base?