In February this year, a leading bank in South Africa faced what it termed ‘technical issues’. Both mobile and internet banking apps were inaccessible on smartphones and web browsers, and ATM and card transactions were affected as well. A similar issue faced by another European bank in April 2018, saw 1.9 million of its mobile and internet banking customers were locked out of their accounts.
The above examples are just two of the many high-profile IT failures that have been affecting banks and in turn their customers all over the world. In most cases, the so-called technical issues always boil down to the inadequacies in the software testing process. According to the PwC Report ‘An Ounce of Prevention, Why Financial Institutions Need Automated Testing’, 21% of defects are not identified until after the software goes live. This puts the onus on organizations to ensure foolproof software testing. For banks to facilitate smoother functioning of programmed systems and applications, the only way forward is a platform which automates testing of software applications. Here are three reasons as to why automated financial application testing is a vital requirement that cannot be overlooked.
- Changing CX trends need test automation
Digital transformation trends such as mobile, social, web and IoT together are determining the customer experience landscape in the current banking and financial services industry. A 2018 study reported that more than half the banks in North America, Europe and Australia have achieved digitization and mobility. With the share of digital interactions reaching a new high, and omni-channel customer interactions becoming the norm banking application testing needs to be accurate and fast. Additionally, regression testing to ensure that new code changes don’t affect existing functionalities will increase—especially considering the complex integration points between customer-facing digital touch-points and legacy back-end applications that exist in most financial institutions. Robotic test automation then becomes the only solution as it facilitates rapid and accurate execution, with the higher degree of consistency that is required.
- Robotic test automation reduces risk aversion to post-production defects
The need to update applications with constant patches and improvements has become a mandatory requirement for BFSI. This increases the risk of post-production defects, which can result in loss of reputation, time and costs. However, manual testing which lacks in consistency and speed cannot provide the comprehensive financial application testing needed to mitigate the inherent risk. To provide quicker deployment into live systems, banks and financial institutions need to seek a platform, which can identify errors earlier in the development cycle. A plug-and-play intelligent test automation framework for banks significantly reduces regression and integration testing times enabling organizations to gain the agility they require.
- Evolving regulatory requirements call for automated testing
The Banking and Financial Services industry in particular is subject to rapid and complex regulatory changes. Take for instance, the recent Reserve Bank of India’s orders to upgrade ATMs running on Windows XP and/or other unsupported operating systems, or the European Union’s directive asking banks to create a dedicated interface to let third parties access accounts on behalf of clients. Faced with such changes that mostly have to be completed within a stipulated time, banks and financial institutions are seeking rapid test solutions that aid the iterative nature of agile application development. Test automation works in sync with the agile process by quickly and consistently confirming if applications are still working as the code is being produced.
Automation testing for banks is rapidly becoming the industry standard as it ensures overall application quality and efficiency—a key driver for the highly competitive and fast-paced environment of banking. Banks implementing financial application testing can not only avoid headline-making errors but gain added opportunities to increase revenue and improve customer experience.
As banks and financial institutions battle a variety of external and internal changes, including the pressing need for digitization and the rapidly evolving regulatory changes, software test automation becomes the only way to provide the speed, agility and consistency that continuous testing requires. The World Quality Report 2016-2017, complied by capturing the responses of 1,660 executives from 32 countries points to organizations recognizing the increasing importance of testing. The proportion of IT budgets allocated to testing is expected to rise to 32% by 2020.
However, banks and financial institutions leveraging financial application testing often face several challenges and limitations. Banks using generic tools or those without a well-defined test automation vision are left to improvise and adopt solutions leading to the lack of proper test validations, greater maintenance effort, and low ROI. Robotic test automation for banking needs an end-to-end, highly advanced and seamless solution that can navigate the rapid changes that BFSI needs.
The checklist below serves as a guide to the right way to deploy automated testing for banks.
Choose the right test cases to automate
There are several criteria that can help choose the right test cases to automate. The need to run repetitive tests for multiple builds, tests which are prone to cause human error, and tests that require running on different configurations all provide better results with test automation. Since banking applications require functionality in high-risk conditions and need the speed and consistency to meet regulatory requirements, it is vital to choose the right test cases for robotic test automation for banking.
Choose to create automated tests resistant to UI changes
The costs, effort and time required for re-scripting and maintaining your test automation artefacts is probably the biggest reason for abandonment of test automation initiatives. The seamless deployment of automated testing for banks depends on automated tests being resistant to user interface change between builds. Banks constantly deal with periodic updates of applications, leading to a high possibility of UI changes. In order for automation to be effective, it should eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of effort required to continue in light of such application changes. This will ensure that financial application testing is resistant to evolving UI changes enabling robotic test automation for banking to be seamlessly deployed.
Choose to test early and often
Since confidential financial data is integral to banking applications, it is vital that applications for banking are tested early and often. This will ensure that bugs are detected early in the testing cycle. The advantage of progressive software test automation tools are that they can be implemented on day one and built gradually. The repetitive tests conducted ensure that all changes are progressively, automatically and intelligently incorporated in different test scenarios by using the same module as a basis for improvisation. Testing thus proceeds at higher speeds and with greater coverage.
Choose to create good quality test data
A common challenge for banks and financial institutions with automated testing is gaining access to production data and replicating it as test data. Test data has to meet two separate objectives—one, it has to represent the test cases in an exhaustive manner without duplication and two, it must be easy to maintain and re-set in case of repetitive rounds of testing. To illustrate further, it would require the skills of an Excel Master to be married to a banker with intimate knowledge of the business data.
Choose to test interfaces
Banking applications are no longer the monoliths they were a decade ago. Today, banking landscapes are a network of varied specialized applications inter-connected via sophisticated interfaces. In such scenarios, the robustness and accuracy of the interfaces across builds needs to be validated. In solutions where the APIs and UI are independently developed, usually at different points of time, the UI and the APIs might offer the same business operations but enforce a different set of checks and controls. Such applications make it imperative to ensure consistency across both these channels.
With banking application being one of the most complex applications in the software and testing industry, the seamless deployment of automated banking application testing becomes a vital need. The right deployment strategy will ensure both seamless and successful testing for maximized ROI.