Passport Perfects Mobile Payments With Crowdtesting On Location

We know our app works in our parking lot, but we need to make sure it also works in the multi-level city parking lot, under a bridge, or near a river in Toronto.

Brad Powers

Residents of cities like Chicago, Boston and Toronto no longer need to carry around loose change to feed parking meters and they have a company called Passport to thank.

Founded in 2010, Passport enables cities, universities and private operators to quickly launch mobile payment apps for parking, transit, citations and permits. Passport allow organizations to better serve their customers and communities by enabling them to digitally manage and make payments. When people park their cars, they pull out the app, enter their parking zone number and finalize the payment. Simple. People no longer need to dig through their pockets for change or pull out their wallets. When the meter expires, customers are able to renew the session on their phones without returning to their vehicles.

Passport has implemented its enterprise solutions into more than 2,000 different locations while building out a list of over 200 clients. In addition to cities and universities, the mobile payment solution has reached doctor’s offices, restaurants, retail centers and many other locations.

With increased success and customer demand comes increased operational complexity, especially on the quality assurance front.

As Passport continues to expand its reach and implement solutions into new locations and use cases, it faces the challenge of ensuring that its apps work consistently in the hands of the people using them. More people means more and diverse devices, operating systems and cellular service carrier combinations that Passport’s apps need to perform on.

Beyond ensuring device coverage, Passport needs to ensure that its apps perform across all of the different locations where it is being relied upon. Passport’s problems are in line with the current generation of software: multiple variables create layers of complexity. With applications installed across thousands of different locations, there simply is not a viable way to overcome the challenge internally.

“We know our app works in our parking lot, but we need to make sure it also works in the multi-level city parking lot, under a bridge, or near a river in Toronto,” said Brad Powers, chief technology officer for Passport.

Passport could easily damage the reputation of the cities and organizations its apps represent by allowing bugs and defects to reach the hands of customers. Providing a faulty product could trigger clients to abandon attempts at offering mobile payments tied to infrastructure or switch to one of Passport’s competitors. With these types of consequences, Passport decided that it needed to extend its quality assurance efforts into the hands of testers that live and work in its target markets.

Increasing Coverage Through Crowdtesting

Passport Coverage Map

Passport partnered with Applause to achieve the real-world testing coverage it was unable to establish on its own. After a quick ramping up process, Applause fitted into Passport’s multi-tiered development and QA process that includes internal testing, automated testing and, now, crowdtesting in real-world conditions with a customized team of testers.

Powers explains how Applause is an addition, not a replacement: “We utilize a variety of best-in-class internal processes as well as the testing we do with Applause in order to deliver the best app experience for our users.” Passport is able to leverage the diverse Applause community of more than 250,000 professional testers to get the device coverage that it needs to match the immense breadth of devices that people are using to make payments. With access to a community that covers over 200 countries and territories around the world, Passport is also able to quickly scale up the number of testers in key locations.

When testing the ParkChicago app, Applause was able to assemble a team of testers that simulated parking in specific locations within the city. Testers would go through the process of accepting terms and conditions when the app first starts, creating an account, adding payment details, starting a new parking session, and then finalizing the payment. Any defects that testers experienced were reported and visible to Passport in real-time.

“Working with Applause enabled us to get the best quality app to market faster than we otherwise would have,” said Powers, noting how he enjoys the speed with which Applause operates with his team.

With Applause, Passport regularly tests its apps with speed and diversity to ensure the apps work as intended in the cities where the company is offering—or intends to offer—mobile payment solutions. The added flexibility enables Passport to quickly identify high-impact issues before they escape into production and reach the hands of people that rely on the company’s apps.

As Passport continues to see increased adoption among new and existing clients, it will continue to leverage the diversity of the Applause community and ensure that its apps deliver excellent digital experiences. Through this extended reach, Passport will ensure that it maintains its reputation as the industry leader.

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Laura Gray
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