Business, Development, News, Software

A Developer’s Checklist In Building A Secure Payments App

Developers Checklist

Mobile devices have become more popular than any other electronic devices as they come along with a sense of comfort, whether it is shopping online or paying bills. They have become an essential part of our lives. Especially, after the outbreak of covid, more and more people are choosing online payment methods rather than the traditional ones. With the growing demand for payment apps, the one thing that concerns the developers and users is the application’s security, especially for small businesses. Cybercrimes are growing day by day and thus, securing a payments app is not a feature, it is a necessity.  

Mobile app security is extremely crucial nowadays as applications are often available over multiple networks and are even connected to the cloud, increasing vulnerabilities to security breaches. Moreover, hackers are going after payment apps with their attacks more today than in the past. There is an increasing incentive among developers to not only perform app security checklists at the network level but also within payment applications themselves. Here a good mobile app architecture can play a vital role in beefing up the security. On that note, app security testing can bring forth weaknesses at the application level and help developers prevent these attacks. 

Mobile payments app security checklist

When it comes to mobile payment applications, mobile devices transmit and receive data across the internet as opposed to a private network making them more prone to attack. Developers perform application security testing as a part of the software development process to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities in the new or updated version of the mobile payments app. Let us walk you through the mobile app security checklist.


The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council was developed by international payment network companies including MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Initially, the primary goal of the PCI was to provide protection to worldwide card users and prevent credit card fraud online. 

The latest versions of PCI are a comprehensive set of guidelines aiming at mainly security systems and data transmission of credit cards. One of the latest versions is PCI-DSS 4.0. PCI-DSS can be applied to any payment app that processes, stores and transmits cardholders’ data. In order to comply with PCI, they need to fulfill a couple of requirements such as ongoing monitoring, integrating strong access control, protecting cardholder data, and much more. 

Third-party payment gateways

Third-party payment gateways are an integral part of any payments application. These gateways play the role of a digital terminal that processes card data and transmits it to the processor and verifies it. This process takes place before the funds are deducted from the users’ account or charging interest on the balance if required. 

Full stack payment platforms are one of the most popular choices among business as it offers more advanced features than just basic transactions. Along with merchant account service and processors, these applications come with an all-in-one payment gateway. This attracts users as they can handle and store data on behalf of the merchants. Although such payment platforms lower liability, they make PCI compliance seamlessly possible. 

In such cases, it is vital to choose a platform that fulfills the needs of your business and payment objectives. Moreover, third-party gateway platforms charge monthly or annually and may demand a share from every transaction made. 

Network tokenization

Network tokenization is the method of replacing sensitive data with nonsensitive counterparts for the betterment of data security. It is one of the few technologies that developers are turning to in a bid to strike the correct balance between a seamless payment experience and high security for users. 

Network tokenization is often confused with existing third-party proprietary tokens. However, these tokens don’t offer end-to-end security and tokenization differs as it ensures that the card data is secured throughout the transaction lifecycle. Additionally, it brings improved credential lifecycle management to keep current card details along with an enhanced buying experience across multiple emerging payment channels. 

Penetration testing

A security audit ensures that the payments app is in compliance with a selected set of security criteria. After the application confirms the audit, developers must ensure that only authorized users have access to it. In simple words, through penetration testing, a developer thinks like a cybercriminal and finds ways to break into the application. 

This type of testing may include social engineering or trying to fool users into allowing unauthorized access. Developers usually test both unauthenticated security scans as well as authenticated security scans. This helps to detect security breaches that may or may not show up in both states. The process of penetration testing involves the following 

  • Encryption of data
  • Third-party app permissions
  • No password expiry protocol
  • Evaluating password policies

Understanding multiple frameworks and platforms

In order to implement security across the application, the developer must understand the use of various frameworks and platforms including Android and iOS devices. They need to build the security systems keeping in mind more than one operating system. To achieve this, they must fully grasp the security management systems targeting each OS and the risks that come along with them.

Development communities are always helpful to know whether or not certain technologies have known security vulnerabilities and their acknowledgments as well as implementation. Developers can thoroughly research various technologies and evaluate them to build a robust security system including Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) software libraries, cross-platform frameworks and software development kits. 

Strong authentication and authorization

At the very core of software testing and cyber security is the implementation of strong authentication and authorization. It reduces the risk of password guessing attacks and unauthorized access. Developers must create a multi-factor authentication system that provides a secret code through SMS, captcha code, OTP, etc to reduce the risks of data breaches.  

When it comes to banking applications user experience, securing authentication and authorization is vitally important. For enhanced app security, you can also use biometric authentication tools such as retina scan and touch id. Additionally, location-based authentication or time execution can also be integrated into your payments application. 

Secure communications

During the process of payments mobile app development, when the data is transferred from the users’ side of the application, there are many possibilities to be hacked. A hacker can take advantage of such a situation and attack over cellular or WiFi connections. Therefore, it is crucial to secure the data of a payments app while communicating. 

While in transit, securing valuable data and information involves encryption techniques such as SSL, HTTPS, TLS and VPN tunnels. 

Protect app data on mobile devices

Developers should avoid storing sensitive data on the device and assume that IT can reimburse any data written to a device. Moreover, they must encrypt it whether in the database, file or any other data stores. There are various proven encryption technologies available in the market such as the 256-bit Advanced Encryption standard symmetric key algorithm. They can also utilize factor key management in the payment app security strategy in order to protect the data significantly.  

Closing words

It is no secret that the use of payment applications has grown exponentially in the past few years. Therefore, the breaches and security risks associated with a payment app can not be ignored in the process of mobile app development. To protect the application truly, necessary security measures must be taken beforehand. 

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