Four Common Problems in Mobile Payments and How to Solve Them

A good customer experience is the fundamental core of contactless payments, especially mobile payments. However, that payments experience is often not what it should be. Here, you will learn how to tackle the four typical problems of mobile payments.

1. Variable Customer Behavior

In contrast to contact-based payments, customers using contactless payment systems can approach the point-of-sale terminal with their card, smartphone, or wearable in many different ways. Often, the POS terminal design is optimized for use with cards and by right-handers. If the mobile or wearable is held at an unfavorable angle, or if the user is wearing large pieces of metal jewelry that interferes with the magnetic field, then communication problems can disrupt the customer payment.

Even at early prototype stage, varying customer movements can be simulated in testing. Afterwards, these movements (including different directions, speeds, angles and proximities) can be systematically measured and evaluated by a robot solution. Oscilloscopes are adept at recording the signal behavior to instantly identify weaknesses, offering the chance to make design modifications prior to deployment.

2. New Kid on the Block

Cards and POS terminals were designed specifically to work in harmony. Adding new devices such as smartphones and wearables into the mix gives rise to interoperability issues. This can be caused by new antenna designs or sizes or by the communication behaviors of smartphones and wearables which differ significantly from cards. Especially in the startup phase of a transaction, these devices will repeatedly transmit commands that are not always interpreted correctly by their POS counterparts.

A software update and possibly recertification of older POS terminal models does the job. To find the cause of the problem, the communication activity should be recorded in situ and meticulously evaluated in the lab afterwards. The typically smaller antennas often mean that configurations might have to be adapted on the physical level. Here, an oscilloscope can also provide very valuable information. In the process of adapting the POS solution, it can be very helpful and time-saving to conduct inhouse tests, (pre-conformance tests) because conformance tests in accredited test labs are very expensive.

3. Many Stakeholders – Nobody to Blame

Payment transactions are complex and involve a large number of players in each exchange: smartphone and/or wearable, POS terminal, bank, credit card issuer, app or wallet provider, as well as merchant. If something goes wrong, the finger pointing starts and everybody looks for a culprit. Naturally, everyone has tested before and usually also has a certification. What now?

Here, only communication tracing in situ and reliable, detailed analysis will help. It may happen, for example, that a wallet implementation is missing a data element. Or apparently identical smartphones have been configured for different countries so that their timings and signal properties are slightly different. Therefore, it is important that such a trace includes both digital and analog data.

4. Conformance Testing Is Not Enough

Standards are very important; however, conformance testing can’t cover every characteristic of every application or deployment. For instance, an already certified contactless chipset could be integrated into a POS terminal, vending machine or turnstile. But, it is still possible that something in situ (e.g. metallic paint, an unfavorably positioned PIN pad protection, other radiating devices in the proximity) could impair the magnetic field. Even if some emitters of electromagnetic disturbance have been taken into account, you don’t know ALL environmental factors.


It is often impossible to carry the complete machine or turnstile including their surroundings into the lab. But many conditions can be simulated through simple measures, (for example, by applying a foil with metallic paint in the proximity). Measuring the electromagnetic field strength and sensitivity in 2D or 3D can help to find out how to fine-tune the antenna design or to modify the integration of modules into the terminal. More than that, requirements that are specific to the individual application can be verified by creating customized test cases using an API.

Do you need support?

You have a special issue in mobile payments?

Let us know which bug is bothering you and we will help you to chase it.

The earlier you find issues, the cheaper and quicker the resolution and the less chance there is of failing to meet customer expectations.

Dr. Torsten Maeser, Managing Director at COMPRION

Chase the bugs – early in the development phase!

Once bitten – twice shy: If customers have had a bad payments experience, they may not return, and everyone loses out. Using a test tool that can simulate and assess a wide range of user behaviors in the early phase of prototype development can help prevent these issues – protecting customer relationships, costs and brand reputation.

COMPRION offers very effective test solutions for every stage of payments system development:

Identifying and removing bugs early

  • Protects your customer relationships
  • Avoids expensive call-backs
  • Saves time for after-launch amendments
  • Retains your good brand reputation


Contact us!

You have a specific question or you would like that we solve your issues for you?
We are happy to answer your questions.

Test Solutions For Every Product Development Phase

CL Development Line

CL Development Line

Prototyping, Design Validation and Certification Preparation

  • Field strength measurement 2D/3D
  • Reader sensitivity test in 2D/3D
  • NFC oscilloscope
  • Automation using robot
  • EMVCo and NFC Forum tests
  • APIs for programming your own tests

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Conformance Test Solutions

Conformance Test Solutions

Solutions for the Test Lab

  • EMVCo: PICC, PCD, Level 1 (analog, digital)
  • NFC Forum: analog, digital, LLCP, SNEP, tag

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Tracing Mobile Payment Transactions

  • Discreet communication tracing in real life
  • Unique evaluation of digital and analog signals

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