Production Verification vs Synthetic Monitoring for Payments: What You Need to Know
Secret to automated payment testing for online banking

Written by Tom Rijks

Published on 28 January 2023

Production verification and synthetic monitoring are essential tools for ensuring that your payment systems function correctly. Both methods allow banks to monitor their payment systems and identify issues before they become a problem.

 Production verification is a process that verifies the accuracy of payment transactions, while synthetic monitoring is a process that continuously monitors the performance of the payment system. Both are essential for ensuring that your payment systems run efficiently and securely.

This article will discuss the differences between production verification and synthetic monitoring and explain why both are important for payment systems. We will explore the advantages and disadvantages of each, and provide a few tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of each. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to use production verification and synthetic monitoring for payments.

What is Production Verification?

Production verification checks the end-to-end process of actual transactions that go through your payment system. The bank’s verification partner will use its retail, commercial and corporate bank accounts to make a variety of payments. This allows banks to verify the full end-to-end transaction journey, even across banks. The process can be manual or automated, depending on the use case and verification solution you use. Production verifications are typically used for piloting new products or features, business verifications after changes, verifying compliance checks like AML, whitelisted pen testing and incident replication.

Production verification is best for identifying issues in production with real transactions. It is an outside-in auditing technique that can be used independently or alongside a variety of other monitoring methods.

What is Synthetic Monitoring?

Where Production Verification involves real money transfers, synthetic monitoring does not. It uses data to mimic how customers would use your payment system. Banks will create multiple test users and use them to repeatedly verify the customer journey all the way up to the real transaction. This makes synthetic monitoring suitable for non-transactional services like website availability and one-off transactions like ordering a credit card. Synthetic monitoring is especially suited to monitor online and mobile bank channels from the inside out and report on unavailability, errors, glitches and malfunctions of bank channels or availability of functional endpoints.  Also, here software is used to automate monitoring.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Production Verification

The first advantage of production verification is the experience from both payer and payee, or in the case of e-commerce platforms, multiple parties can be verified and monitored. This enables banks also to verify cross-bank and cross-border transaction services. Second, the full service and all its supporting services can be verified as it is a real transaction, i.e. transaction initiation, debiting/crediting, processing and clearing duration, reporting and billing. And third, cross-platform journeys, like sending in a transaction batch using a corporate API, and then signing using the mobile app, can be verified.

The biggest disadvantage of production verification is that it is designed explicitly for payment transactions. It is a speciality diagnostics tool which means that verifications are more complex to realize as they require bank accounts and a complete customer setup. This makes production verification more expensive and applicable for a smaller scope than synthetic monitoring.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Synthetic Monitoring

The biggest advantage of synthetic monitoring is its broad applicability in the digital domain. Synthetic Monitoring is also applicable outside the payment’s domain. As it is applied in many domains, there is a rich source of reference data allowing for benchmarking and comparing to the performance of others to improve own performance. Scale in use also brings lower prices than production. Prices for synthetic monitoring tools are a fraction of payment production verification.

The disadvantage of Synthetic monitoring is that it stops where the real transaction starts. It misses the actual execution of the transaction, limiting it to monitoring channels and the availability of function endpoints of a single bank only.

Production monitoring and Synthetic monitoring compared

Production monitoring and Synthetic monitoring compared

Conclusion

Production verification and synthetic monitoring are two essential bank tools for monitoring payments. Both allow banks to check their payment systems and identify issues before they become a problem.

Production verification and synthetic monitoring are both outside-in testing-in-production methods that strengthen the portfolio of quality assurance tools. Production verification in payments is a speciality tool allowing to verify and monitor the end-to-end payment transactions from multiple customer endpoints: cross-accounts, cross-platform, cross-bank and cross-border. Synthetic monitoring allows for a broader scope: non-transactions and one-off transactions.

For sound and adequate quality assurance, production verification and synthetic monitoring should co-exist.

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