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Banking Domain Testing: Why This Is Necessary and Challenges in App Testing in Banking Domain

Sep 3, 2019
12 min read

Banking domain applications have a complex structure, multi-layered workflows, and a broad range of features. On top of that, as most of them deal with sensitive data, the level of data protection should also be impeccable. 

This post is a checklist for anyone involved in banking domain application management. After finishing the article, you’ll have a better understanding of why it’s so challenging to test banking domain product, what steps to take, and the best ways to approach the process.

Banking Domain Knowledge

A banking domain is comprised of all the components needed to run a financial service end-to-end. It covers the transaction and distribution process; the ways in which customers interact with the system, products, and services the organization offers; and the technology involved. 

By combining all these components, a financial specialist can create a bank operating model. Let’s take a closer look at this framework:

  • Segments
    The niche a banking institution occupies (e.g. retail banking, private banking, investment banking, etc.);
  • Customers
    Organizations and individuals that use the services or products an organization promotes;
  • Services and products
    All operations that a bank charges fees for or sells to a client (a loan, a deposit, an investment, equity training, and so on);
  • Distribution and sales
    How the bank engages with the visitors, the ways to sell a product or a service to a customer — branches, software, email or mobile outreach, etc.;
  • Processes and technology
    This is the broadest component of the banking domain. It includes the way the company manages its employees, their role and responsibilities, the technology used to hit performance benchmarks, and the workflows customers have to follow through to complete a transaction.

Seeing a banking system as a framework helps company managers define the checkpoints needed to improve the performance of the institution. Financial application developers and testers also heavily rely on the banking domain knowledge components described above. 

Characteristics of a Banking Application

Implementing technology in the finance sector is no longer optional. As banking users become significantly more technology-reliant, financial service providers have to adapt. That’s why the last decade has marked the starting point and sprouting growth of online and mobile banking. 

The reduction of operating costs, improved user experience, and an opportunity for companies to build a lasting bond with visitors are lucrative opportunities. On the other hand, if not done properly, a banking application can exposure a financial service provider to a handful of risks — security breaches, faulty transactions, and increased bounce rates. 

To follow industry standards, a development team that works in banking domain needs to be aware of the must-have characteristics a successful software tool has to offer. 

1. Secure user authentication mechanisms 

As banks deal with sensitive information like credit card numbers, personal documents, and so on, having an attack-proof user data protection is crucial. In fact, it is an obligatory step for legal compliance according to GDPR and the Payment Service Directive 2. 

To be considered secure, a banking system authentication needs to use at least two of the three protection mechanisms:

  • ‘Something you Have’;
  • ‘Something you Know’ (a login-password combination or a PIN);
  • ‘Something you Are’ (a physical attribute of a person).

2. Built-in account management system

It’s crucial for a banking application developer to provide users with a robust platform for account management. A user should have no problem when checking their balance or performing a transaction via the app in a fast, error-free mode. 

When testing accounts, QA specialists need to ensure a separate database ID is assigned to each system user.

An app visitor should also be able to see their real-time debit and credit account balance. For security purposes, developers need to disable idle accounts automatically after a selected time frame is over. 

3. QR payment support

According to the latest statistics, around 25-30% of the worldwide population uses QR codes for payments. While in Europe and the US, QR scanning is still an emerging trend, it has the consistent following in leading Asian markets — China, Japan, and Singapore.

That’s why QR payment support is no longer optional for a modern-day banking app. Its efficiency, however, depends on the placement of the code and the speed of a QR-based transaction. 

To ensure they got it right, the members of the application development team needs to thoroughly assess the functionality of the QR payment feature before adding it to a permanent build. 

4. ATM locator

An ATM locator is not a challenging feature from a technical standpoint — nevertheless, a lot of companies neglect it. By helping users find the nearest ATM in the area, you’ll be able to significantly increase the value provided by the app. 

The implementation of an ATM locator by the Royal Bank of Canada is a poster case that proves the success of GPS-based technology in finance. According to the bank’s official data, 90% of their app users upgraded the client to a newer version to get access to the feature. 

What’s more impressive, RBC managed to attract over 25,000 new users by adding an in-app ATM locator. 

5. Real-time payment processing and batch processing

The real-time payment (RTP) system is considered the first major improvement in the American financial transaction framework in the last 40 years. RTP is not something new for over 20 countries, including the UK, Singapore, and others. 

For banking app developers, real-time payment processing comes with a sack of benefits: 

  • Improved efficiency;
  • Satisfying customer needs 24/7;
  • Secure, traceable payments;
  • Reduced anti-money-laundering and fraud risks.

By 2020, instant payment processing will be considered an industry standard. That’s why it’s important to ensure the feature works like clockwork in your company’s app. 

6. Large-scale integrations

To leverage the benefits of banking technology, financial service providers have to integrate with other payment solutions. Naturally, the wider the list of available integrations, the broader the organization’s range of features will be. 

Here are the most common platforms your banking domain app seeks integration with:

  • Movie booking services;
  • Food order management platforms;
  • E-commerce websites.

During testing, a QA manager has to ensure the app behaves consistently when summoned by a third-party payment gateway. 

7. Bots for customer support

High-quality customer support is imperative for banking service providers. However, hiring enough workers to consult users 24/7 would be too expensive and challenging to manage. That’s why banking service providers use intelligent chatbots to tailor to customers’ needs. Unlike a human assistant, a bot runs around the clock, doesn’t get irritated or lose concentration, and is easier to maintain in the long run. 

Speaking of successful chatbot implementation, Wells Fargo is worth mentioning. The banking company used a Facebook Messenger bot to provide users with around-the-clock assistance. With the newly implemented innovation, Wells Fargo managed to successfully answer over 5,000 customer questions. 

What is Banking Domain Testing?

Banking Domain Testing is the process of assessing the facets of banking software. In the era of online and mobile banking, having an application with stable performance, secure transactions, and one-click access is crucial. 

That’s why development teams closely collaborate with QA specialists to test the software before releasing the final version. The testing process starts with developing a framework. There, all steps of the process are outlined and complemented with time and budget estimates. 

A brief checklist for banking domain testing process looks as follows:

  • Identifying requirements
    On this stage, a tester documents each requirement and sorts them as Use Cases or Functional Specifications. Requirements are usually divided by modules, each of which covers an aspect of the application — money transfers, bill payments, mortgage, loans and deposits, etc.
  • Reviewing requirements
    After the list of application requirements is ready, it requires additional refinement. To review workflows and scenarios, all stakeholders arrange a meeting. It’s important to ensure cases don’t compromise with each other and can drive the app to its peak efficiency.
  • Building a test case suite
    At this stage, automation engineers select test cases, decide which of them can be automated and create custom scripts. A QA specialist can also opt for manual testing in banking domain — in this case, one has to assemble a team of testers and allocate responsibilities to each specialist.
  • Functional testing
    A QA specialist runs tests to ensure main user workflows can be carried out without bugs or errors.
  • Database testing
    During these types of testing in banking domain, a tester ensures that the app has data integrity, while QA specialists assess the database schema and data types, stored functions and procedures, data loading speed.
  • Security testing
    Due to the sensitive nature of banking applications, developers have to put in extra effort to protect user data from hacker attacks or fraudulent activities. Running security testing, a QA team needs to ensure the application is compliant with security regulations and standards like OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) and exposes no sensitive data for public display.
  • User acceptance
    Last but not least, a development team needs to be confident that real-world users will be satisfied with the application’s functionality. That’s why QA specialists assess the user acceptance of the tool by asking a focus group to test it out.

Why Do You Need Banking Testing?

Banking domain application testing is crucial as it provides business owners with insights they might not have noticed previously. Instead of fixing bugs in a rushed environment when the app is out, it’s better to take your time and pinpoint all issues when the project is still in development. 

There are other banking and finance domain testing benefits that encourage company managers to treat this stage of product development with their full attention. Let’s examine them closer:

  • Detecting and fixing performance issues
    Testing helps the project team predict user behavior and pinpoint issue the app visitors are likely to encounter. This way, once an actual product is released, the company owner will have confidence that the tool is bug-free.
  • Provides a development team with a better understanding of workflows
    Through testing, you will be able to verify that banking modules don’t clash between each other, all important workflows work independently, and that they are secure and transparent.
  • Helps deal with technical debt during maintenance
    Tech debt is an inevitable side-effect of any legacy code. Testing will not help developers avoid it completely. However, being able to come back to old logs, a programmer will be able to remind himself what his train of thought was during development. Using unit tests as documentation is a common tech practice that comes in especially handy for something as complex as a banking tool.
  • Improves the quality of managing complex systems
    Usually, banking systems are highly complex, with multi-layered workflows and thousands of dependencies. Only through testing can such a system be fully assessed and monitored.
  • Improves user retention
    After software testing in banking domain, a developer will know for sure how many users the system can accommodate, how much time it takes for a page to load. This way, developers will be able to optimize the performance of the tool so that it provides high-quality financial services to the entire user base that are fast and easy to use for beginning PC users. Compared to a product that hasn’t been tested, your application will be more thought out and transparent — thus, user retention rates will increase.

Use Cases and Challenges in Banking Domain Testing

Testing applications in the banking industry doesn’t come challenge-free — after all, assessing the performance of tools this complex requires a high level of financial expertise and a strong command of QA instruments. 

Let’s take a look at the most popular challenges QA specialists confront when testing products in the banking domain:

  • Implementing a strict security system
    Banking applications need to have a secure system for private information and asset protection. During testing, a QA specialist needs to create a secure environment. Also, the development team has to implement additional security measures — one-time passwords, access validation codes, etc. As a result, banking domain tester’s toolkit is full of security instruments — including IBM App Scan, HTTP Watch, and HPWebInspect, among others. Security testing a banking app is usually more time-consuming and expensive than any other project.
  • Complex databases
    For one thing, a testing team needs to have a broad account pool to test a banking domain application. Also, a QA specialist has to use automation tools to check database connectivity and control its logical functions. As all the user datum testers rely on needs to be protected, using a VPN to ensure security is a common practice among QA specialists.
  • Integrations with other tools
    Testing third-party integrations is full of issues and bugs. QA specialists have to be prepared to deal with access issues or the incompatibility of the integration with the app’s native UI.
  • Real-time data support
    Providing users with real-time access to the app’s features is challenging. To ensure the banking tool visitors can access their accounts anytime, a QA team has to pay extra attention to testing network connectivity issue.
  • Active device support
    Testers have to ensure the application works smoothly on mobile devices with different screen dimensions as well as low-end smartphones. This requires a wide range of physical devices or emulated environments that will run banking domain performance testing.

Banking Domain Testing Use Cases

Preparing test cases, QA specialist examines both positive and negative scenarios to check all the facets of the system for vulnerabilities. Take a look at example test teams for banking domain quality assurance teams usually include into the suite. 

  • Creating a database for a new branch and ensuring it’s updated in real-time
    Also, a tester needs to ensure that user data will be shared between all the branches of a single bank.
  • Verifying the security of admin and customer logins
    This includes user identification method monitoring, blocking access if the identity is invalid, creating login reports, and keeping identification logs.
  • Delete user accounts and all related data
    To stay compliant with GDPR and other data protection regulations, the company manager needs to be able to permanently delete all user records and account details if asked to.
  • Implementing the time-out feature
    After not using the app/platform for a selected time frame, a user is automatically signed out of the system;
  • The confirmation of all financial transactions
    A user shouldn’t be able to perform any transaction or a financial operation without confirming it at least once. There are several ways to confirm a valid transaction — via phone, QR code, email, etc.
  • A user should only be able to transfer money if they have enough of an account balance
    It’s a tester’s job to ensure an application user cannot transfer an amount of money that exceeds the current balance. If the user attempts to do so, the system should stop the operation and inform the app user that there isn’t enough money on the account.

Banking Domain Testing with PFLB

At PFLB, we have completed dozens of projects in the banking domain. That’s why our testers are well-versed in industry standards and trends. When working on the project, we place emphasis on the following points:

  • Security
    Our QA specialists conduct thorough pentests to discover vulnerabilities and complete detailed reports for the development team. Together with the main office, we actively participate in bug fixing. The PFLB banking domain security testing toolkit consists of top-tier tools — Nessus Vulnerability Scanner, MaxPatrol, Metasploit, and others.
  • Transparency
    We ensure the banking application keeps logs of all operations, the way it processes and uses personal data, and protection means. This way, our clients’ projects are security-compliant and ready for audits.
  • Efficient mobile performance
    We recognize the importance of mobile banking as an emerging trend. That’s why PFLB testers use proprietary solutions along with renowned testing tools to ensure the app is smartphone- and tablet-responsive.
  • Collaboration
    Our testing team includes all the stakeholders of the project in the decision-making process. We’ll provide you with comprehensive status updates that fully cover each testing stage.

After the build is fully tested and approved by all the project stakeholders, PFLB provides assistance during the release process and maintenance. We offer continuous consultancy and support — the company’s experienced testers will regularly follow up on the state of your project, and offer tips and assistance.

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Banking domain applications may be vulnerable in terms of performance and security issues. That’s why project teams should be extra thorough when testing these systems. 

A detailed testing framework allows company managers to avoid compliance issues and penalties, improve the efficiency of bug fixing, and facilitate future maintenance. 

Most importantly, a well-tested app will be attractive to users and will become an efficient conversion boost. 
To get high-quality banking domain testing, contact PFLB. Check out our services to learn how our testing team can improve your product. Contact us to discuss the details of your projects — PFLB is looking forward to working as a part of your team.

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