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  • Within the emerging trends in the mobile technology, Near Field Communications has made uproar with NFC based Mobile payments donning a key differentiator role for every financial institution. To accomplish transactions with a single tap is a paradigm shift in the financial world and predictions say that 1 in 3 phones would be using NFC technology by 2014 with number of annual monetary transactions via NFC would be 100M. NFC being an evolving technology, newer entities like wallet software, variations in the form factor for different mobile devices & NFC card readers are auxiliary to the Mobile transaction flow. Increase in the entity list enhances the challenges, complexities and technical intricacies for the development of the NFC technology. Testing the adaptation of the business processes on an unexplored technology becomes major challenge. This paper attempts to articulate the following:
  • Key technical complexities and challenges that could surface a QA Team testing the NFC payment transactions.
  • Mobile Banking application tester’s view to address those challenges in testing of the NFC enabled payment transactions.
  • Collaborative test model for NFC enabled payments testing.
  • Top 8 practices for mobile banking QA personnel in testing NFC enabled payment transactions.

What about NFC?

Near Field communication is a set of standards that are followed using a radio frequency to communicate with another NFC enabled devices. NFC is emerging as a popular technology to accomplish many business needs especially using the Mobile technology. Some of the typical NFC enablement techniques are

Card based NFC Form factor – NFC chip or embedded on a memory card with a dedicated slot on the device.

SIM based NFC enablement - Details are Embossed on the SIM Card of the mobile device

Sticker enabled NFC – A sticker holds the data for performing the NFC activity and typically resides on the device.

NFC’s gained popularity and momentum in Banking and Financial Sector, Insurance and health sciences, Logistics, Media and entertainment domains. Coming years would experience a lot of growth with usage of NFC Technology in almost all the verticals in the Industry.




Differences B/w Regular mobile Payment Transaction Vs NFC Based Payments Transaction with an example

Let us consider an example of a Merchandise purchase using a mobile device (smart phone) online.

The consumer browses for the best deal to buy few books online on a retail outlet’s website and sets up an alert to receive SMS on Online or Store sale and discount season.

He receives an SMS coupon for a cool deal on his favorite novels if purchased online that reads 20% cash back from the online store on which he had setup alerts.

He logs into the store’s online shopping portal using his smartphone and completes a purchase order.

He uses his credit card details (saved in his profile on the portal’s ‘My Profile’ page) to complete the payment transaction and just before submission he redeems 20% discount

He has now accomplished a payment transaction using the retailer’s mobile browser application.


Near Field Range

Differences B/w Regular mobile Payment Transaction Vs NFC Based Payments Transaction with an example

Assuming the store is equipped with NFC terminals to read NFC Cards and process payments and the consumer, a geek with latest NFC enabled device in his pocket with multiple Credit Cards in his Wallet application, would pursue the transaction in the following way

Consumer locates the store offering the discount and proceeds with his favorite books to the payment counter.

He launches his mobile wallet at the payment terminal and selects the credit card widget of his choice.

Performs all the authentication activities before proceeding with the payment.

Validates the amount displayed on the terminal

Taps or Waves his device on the Card Reader / Terminal

Completes the transaction and receives an SMS like ‘Payment Authorization confirmation’ for his NFC transaction.

The Payments are now processed by the bank as a normal payment transaction in their clearing house





Entities in NFC Eco Sphere

Business process flow

Technological Flow

Terminal Providers


Mobile OEM


TSM Vendors

NFC Chip


Payment Network

Merchant Acquirer


Complexities in NFC Eco sphere.

  • As the number of entities within any technological ecosphere increases, there is a corresponding impact on the complexity and it’s evident to expect a rise in the amount of complexities. Some of the key complexities within NFC Payments space are:
  • Multiple systems to support a payment transaction
  • Read / Write capability challenge
  • Form Factor
  • Compatibility
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Range Testing
  • Constraints testing
  • Multi-tasking Testing

Collaborative Test Model with all the entities in the NFC Space

  • Given the amount of Complexities and the technical & business intricacies involved in NFC payments, its always advised to have a collaborative test model approach to validate the flows. Initially it could start with stubbing out of certain key elements during the initial phases of the application testing within the Issuer domain, but eventually there need to be a matured model in place to have this major accomplishment. Some of the key highlights of the collaborative model include:
  • Conduct business requirement workshops and technical specification meetings including all the stakeholders in the system to arrive at a common list of feasible requirements and particularly the QA Team should have a major stake to drive the effort as the time consumed in testing such systems would definitely get longer than the development cycles.
  • Design a thorough QA Master plan to include all the minuscule events, call out the dependencies (both external and Internal), have an alternate plan for any slippages or parallel deliverable activities.
  • Start testing out the smaller stubs with dummy information and hard coded data to ensure code stability and component authenticity.

Collaborative Test Model with all the entities in the NFC Space

  • Create a mini Payment World among the stakeholders and have a QA representative in each system donning the role they are supposed to perform as in real business.
    • Include a bunch of employees from individual organizations to use the system and provide feedback on various components
    • Include variants of form factors, varied set of customer data and the different methods to capture the payment event (Tap or Wave)
    • Ensure to cover different change request events for a regular Credit card that could be a Card de-activation, dismissal, cancellation, renewal etc
    • Ensure the coverage of various BAU events for a mobile MNO like activation of a new number, replacement of a device, upgraded operating system on the device, On-Contract and Jail broken devices etc.
    • Enact a security breach and Fraudulent situations by performing various network break events, device hacking events etc
    • Perform the transactions in varied network situations and baseline the minimal network strength.
    • Accommodate range testing to ensure a minimal range of appearance of the device for the terminal to capture the credentials and accomplish the payments.

Collaborative Test Model with all the entities in the NFC Space

Organize a common test window and have representation from all the entity owners to trigger actions within their systems.

Ensure the defects are captured immediately and have a time-box fixture or hot fixes to accomplish the re-testing within the window.

Create real time data; establish field testing by implementing the beta version of the system within a couple of merchandize outlets.

Offer sample set of products as freebies to the end users and avail their feedback on usability, performance, security and implement the feedback as an immediate action item in the next release.


Top 8 practices for mobile banking QA personnel in testing NFC enabled payment transactions

  • Since NFC is fairly emerging area and there has not been much spoke about the guidelines or practices from a QA perspective. Based on the practitioners view, I would like to conclude this paper with below mentioned key elements a Mobile banking QA personnel should consider in testing the NFC Enabled payment transactions.
  • Device Diversity:
  • Strong Test Optimization techniques: Test Optimization is an important factor in mobile application testing as there is variety in
    • Device List
    • Form Factors
    • MNO types
    • Issuer product types
    • Wallet provider
  • Mobile Application validation framework

Top 8 practices for mobile banking QA personnel in testing NFC enabled payment transactions

  • Usability Testing Experience
  • Thorough Domain expertise
  • Exposure to open source automation tools & Simulators
  • Working experience on Native mobile applications
  • Field Testing Experience