Gone are the days of having to get in the car, drive to your local bank branch, and wait in line for an open teller before getting down to business. Much to the delight of millennials and Gen Z, today you can handle basically every finance-related task online-either through your bank’s online portal, or with their mobile app.
Though many still prefer to handle their finances in-person and face-to-face, the trend toward app-based financial management is established and rapidly growing. Recent research shows that 63% of smartphone users have at least one finance app installed on their device, and that 55% have a full-service banking app installed.
Fintech companies and many traditional banking companies see the tremendous opportunity here. There’s a demand for greater financial ease and efficiency, and many companies are already meeting it. But in today’s world, fraught with almost-daily data leaks and cyberattacks, the market also demands airtight security. Is it possible to check all these boxes? Yes, but not without a lot of up-front work and QA testing due diligence.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about effective mobile banking application testing. It’s a crash course that we hope brings value to you, your team, and your customers.
First, define your target audience and objectives
This is the essential first step in both development and testing. Without a clear idea of your target users and their needs, you’ll be unequipped to plan ahead (for hefty objectives like business priorities and a product roadmap) and lack the requirements you need for more tactical work, like creating effective test cases.
Many companies perform extensive user persona mapping before beginning to build or test their application. With the help of banking experts and business analysts, they learn all they can about customers - their current banking pain points, likelihood of adopting a new solution, potential use cases, and more.
This data shapes long-term business objectives, which inform a focused, priority-driven roadmap. Though tactical work may seem more approachable and urgent, it’s always a good idea to work backwards with the big picture of how to continuously delighting your users in mind.
Understand the key characteristics of your banking application
A banking app needs to be incredibly powerful to deliver everything the average customer is looking for. If you’re planning to provide a full-service experience, here’s a list of the ten most important characteristics that most banking apps should have:
- Multi-tier functionality capable of supporting concurrent user sessions
- The tier system is usually composed of a web server to allow customers to engage with the app, a middle tier for validating inputs to and outputs from the web server, a database for storing data and procedures, and a transaction processor to keep everything running smoothly.
- Support for large-scale integrations with bill pay utilities and trading accounts
- Complex business workflows
- Real-time and batch processing
- Support for a high volume of transactions per second
- Tight security to help protect user data and their every transaction
- Robust reporting features to help log and track day-to-day transactions
- Strong auditing infrastructure for troubleshooting customer issues
- Massive data storage capabilities
- Protocols for disaster recovery and version management
Again, just like knowing your ideal customers, knowing exactly what your application should do to provide simplicity and value for the end user is vital before you begin testing it.
Define test requirements and build a test strategy.
There’s a reason banking applications are so complex-they need to provide a fast, efficient way to manage highly sensitive information. And when speed and security are the two primary goals of software, a lot of behind-the-scenes work needs to happen to ensure they’re met.
Since we’re focused on testing, let’s move on to the bulk of this work: defining your test requirements and building a test strategy. The test strategy is essential, because it allows you to get buy-in and important feedback from your broader team and key stakeholders. It also informs your team which specific requirements you’ll be testing, and how to approach the actual tests.
In keeping with our list of key characteristics above, your QA team should be focusing heavily on these areas:
- Functionality testing to ensure a proper user experience
- Automation testing to help reduce manual work and human error, and drastically cut testing time
- Load and performance testing to guarantee that it can handle session and transaction volume
- Security testing to ensure that the application is as safe as possible for users
- Regulatory compliance testing to certify that it meets all of the industry-specific measures
- API and integration testing to check that the app works properly with any connected apps, services, or utilities
- Mobile testing to check that the app functions well across all supported mobile and tablet devices
Your QA team, or QA partner, should be able to lead the way with all of these testing initiatives, providing guidance to the rest of the team and delivering status reports to key stakeholders along the way.
Be prepared for challenges
Preparation and planning is the best way to turn major, unexpected problems into tiny speed bumps. Some of the most common challenges that may pop up prior to the start of testing include:
- A lack of production data. One of the biggest challenges faced by teams new to software testing in the finance space is a lack of existing process. This can take a long time to figure out internally, which is why many companies turn to experienced QA partners for help in defining testing, debugging, and reporting processes.
- System migration. Maybe your testing strategy requires you to switch systems mid-stream, deal with legacy platforms, get used to a new testing environment, or manage some other complex change. This is yet another area where QA testing experts can provide guidance or manage the change for you, so you can focus on other critical areas of business.
- A lack of domain knowledge. If your QA team has limited experience with the financial space, or isn’t particularly fluent in regulatory compliance testing, it may be a good idea to contract the help of an outside vendor. There is basically no margin for error when it comes to testing your banking application for security, compliance, and performance, so it pays to have help from experts. This space is competitive and your brand perception depends on it.
Execute your test strategy and review
Now that you know what you’re testing (and what to watch out for while you’re doing it), it’s time to get started! Though many companies are still using the waterfall approach, which treats the testing workflow step by step, the Agile process allows for greater collaboration, transparency, and efficiency.
In an Agile model, dev and QA work together in pursuit of a common goal: meeting the specified testing requirements and shipping a high-quality product that’s ready for the market. One of the major benefits of working this way is that review and acceptance happens on an ongoing basis, alongside development - it’s not stuck at the end of the workflow, where countless issues and errors can be uncovered.
Though adopting the Agile process does require some change management, a trusted QA partner can help you learn the ropes and successfully navigate the switch.
As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Technology companies focused on the banking and financial markets as well as traditional banks and brokerage companies have a huge opportunity to reinvent an age-old process, but they need to be extra careful as they work toward that goal. Forward thinking, plenty of planning and organization, and strong teams can help you avoid common missteps.
And if you’re feeling out of your league or continuously stretched for resources, you can always call on a trusted QA partner to help you navigate the world mobile banking application testing. Though the partnership may seem like an added up-front cost, it can actually be more cost effective as well as save you headaches, frustration, and even your product’s reputation down the road and that seems like a worthwhile investment to us!
If you're interested in launching more successful financial applications that meet growing regulatory, data security and user experience requirements - with little to no errors - our webinar Foolproof Your Financial Application Testing - Everything You Need to Know is for you.
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