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Why should payment schemes consider an automated tool to convert their test files into TSEC format?

September 21, 2022


Let us look at how Level 3 terminal integration testing was happening. Acquirers, processors, and merchants would register with the payment scheme. They buy a test tool qualified by the respective payment schemes to perform their testing.

These test tools developed by vendors were qualified separately by payment schemes. These tools were used by acquirers, processors, and merchants (we will call all of them acquirers, hereafter in this article) for their certification needs.

This was getting cumbersome. There was a need for standardization.


To simplify, EMVCo, the industry body, established a task force to standardize the existing Level 3 testing process, which would help streamline testing and certification for acquirers.

They formed a group called L3TG that standardized the Level 3 testing and certification process across payment schemes. EMVCo started to qualify the tools developed by vendors based on L3TG standards.

Tool vendors don’t have to go to multiple schemes to qualify their tools. Tool vendors will have to get their tools qualified for TSE (Test Selection Engine), TT (Test Tool), and Card Simulator (CS), as defined by EMVCo.

Acquirers can use the same tool across all payment schemes that follow EMVCo standards and specifications for their testing and certification needs.

What is the role of TSEC?

The payment schemes will generate the TSEC (Test Set File), a combination of ICS, Test Cases, Suggestions, and Errors. This TSEC file is used by the test tool for testing and certification.

Generating this TSEC file manually is a complex process. 8 CSV files have to be considered – questions, errors, suggestions, test cases, cards, pass criteria, test case selection, and information. Besides, you have the additional test reference file and manifest files.

The payment systems provide these test set files as a TSEC package. TSEC-package is a zip file that contains instructions on collecting terminal configuration information, test cases, test case applicability conditions, and pass criteria definitions.

Questions are chosen based on the context provided by the payment schemes. The number of combinations is enormous in creating the TSEC file, which, when done manually, would result in errors.

The TSEC file also contains pass/fail criteria syntax to streamline test plan processing and validation activities.

Besides the TSEC file, a test card image syntax file is also used to simulate the expected behaviour of the test card. EMVCo defines the format of the test card image file and TSEC file, and these formats are eXtensible Markup Language (XML) and Comma Separated Value (CSV).

The TSEC files are in a machine-readable format, and it is compatible with any EMVCo-qualified L3 test tool.

Card image editor

The role of card images is to simulate the appropriate responses to the terminal based on the request commands from the terminal. The card images change based on the test cases. The response of the terminal, the card, and the host messages are recorded and exported in EMVCo L3 format to process the pass criteria to be submitted to the payment schemes for L3 certification.

One critical criterion is the card id in the TSEC file; the card image should match to run the test cases.

TSEC Editor and Card Image generation tool

We understood the pain and complications in building the 8-part inter-related TSEC files manually. We decided to automate it. With our TSEC editor, these complexities are nulled as you can just sit and relax while our tool updates all the files.

The tool is built-in with details like errors, suggestions, test cards, and pass criteria automatically after you add the test cases and questions. Also, when you build a host expression, you can just focus on the expression rather than the format.

In our TSEC editor tool, the context dependencies can be managed for every edit in easy steps without manually going through each file.

And finally, our tool can compare the current version with the previous TSEC and Card Image versions. Doing it manually is like finding a needle in the hay.

Benefits of using the TSEC editor

  • Complies with the complex EMVCo L3 standards
  • Avoid human errors and saves loads of time
  • Avoid issues in the field after distribution to the tool vendor
  • Customized reference file for your specific needs
  • Hash calculation for the manifest file done per EMVCo L3 framework

Benefits of using the card image editor

  • You can intuitively create and edit L3 card image
  • You can enter both EMV and proprietary commands
  • Compare two versions of the card images to identify the changes implemented
  • Focus only on the card feature and let go of remembering EMV command hex values with intuitive GUI
  • Editing of AIP and AUC bit-wise fields is possible with their names, helping demystify features
Manikandan Vellaiyan

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