Fintech application development and financial services industry
Over the last few years, Fintechs have brought about a much-needed disruption to the global financial industry. Since then, they have been competing with banks for a larger share of customer wallets with applications that fare far better in terms of customer experience, ease of use, and frequency of releases with improved functionality. Being digital by design, Fintechs are not bogged down by the legacy architectures that prevail at their competitor banks and are able to drive changes across their application landscape much faster to gain market share.
User experience is key to the success of any Fintech application. Several factors like intuitiveness, ease of usage of the interface, integration to other systems to drive information, and analysis for decision making are instrumental in driving stickiness with the brand. The margin for error is quite low when competing against banks that are traditionally known to be strong when it comes to safety. Any glitch in the application, even a minor one, related to the finances of a consumer throws doubt in the mind of the user and leads to a dip in brand reputation.
When combined with the need for speed in terms of application releases, application quality becomes critical in Fintech’s way of working. Banking being a highly regulated industry, Fintechs also needs to adhere to a wide range of data privacy rules and regulations. All of these bring to the fore the need for Fintechs to adopt robust quality assurance frameworks and methodologies in ensuring faster application releases at quality and scale.
Areas of focus for superior quality assurance
Similar to testing any other application, Fintech applications also need to undergo functionality testing, UI/UX testing, performance (stress, load, etc.) testing, security testing, device-led testing, usability, compatibility across multiple OS as well as vulnerability and threats. The sections below outline in detail some of the more critical QA streams in the context of Fintech.
Customer experience testing
Having an agile infrastructure that helps to iterate, shorten build times, and launch releases faster is key to a better user experience for finance apps. Multiple Fintech players have mastered this by implementing mobile DevOps into the development process, thereby decreasing the time spent on testing.
World quality report 2020-21 also indicates many Fintechs adopting agile and DevOps methodologies to achieve high results on application quality. Some others have adopted techniques like incorporating user feedback into feature planning, prioritizing accessibility testing for the widest audience possible, and visual UI testing for capturing bugs on the visual front ends or pages in addition to app functionality.
The rate of transactions is extremely high in Fintech applications. Hence, analyzing the app performance across varying loads, gauging performance, and understanding breakage point is extremely important. Many of the apps depend to a considerable extent on a plethora of plugins aimed at giving a truckload of features. Performance testing techniques need to be flexible enough to accommodate and test across these plugins.
Further, Fintechs apps are characterized by large-scale integrations – third-party applications, heterogenous environments spanning multiple OS, devices, platforms, etc. Choice of the right performance testing platform with the ability to accommodate a wide range of ecosystem integrations is paramount.
Confidentiality is key since Fintechs deal with the financial data of consumers. Any breach can lead to loss of reputation and penalties that can be costly. This underlines the need for assuring data security, right from onboarding sensitive data to managing and transferring it across systems. Security testing needs to happen across multiple layers be it application, infrastructure, data storage, APIs, authentication systems, or information exchanges. Simulating system attacks that include data leaks, application code manipulation, sensitive data access, etc. has been adopted by many organizations to test the mettle of their security systems.
Equally important is the need to test multi-factor authentication systems. These bring into the picture a wide range of interfaces, customer actions like fingerprinting, security code receipt via messages, etc., as well as the complexities involved with a multitude of user identity certificates. Furthermore, penetration testing is key to identifying vulnerabilities, not only with respect to risk areas within the application but also with respect to calls made between multiple systems and information exchange between sources.
One of the key features that sets Fintechs apart from its competitors is the ease with which it can integrate with larger financial ecosystems and marketplaces for third-party services. To guarantee such integrations, testing interfaces be it APIs, connectors or services are key. In addition, testing the security of APIs to which the app has access is equally important. It might so happen that the APIs expose the app to vulnerable libraries which can adversely affect app performance or compromise user security.
Equally important is the need to evaluate if the data provided by third-party services is being interpreted correctly. This can be cumbersome especially during the app development phase when the external ecosystem may not be available for testing. In such cases, stubs or simulated environments for testing, act as the way to move forward. Generation of mock data and using that to populate scenarios for integration testing is another approach that can be adopted for a faster testing process.
The secret to success for the Fintech industry lies in the ability to release innovative, CX-rich, and secure financial products to consumers much ahead of the competition. Integration of these products to a functionality-rich financial ecosystem is equally important for creating phenomenal user experiences – aggregating useful financial data across systems and displaying them in easy-to-use, responsive, and collaborative visual dashboards, that new-age users have come to expect.
The role of QA is extremely important and needs to give due emphasis on a wide range of testing techniques ranging from CX and performance to integration and security testing. For better results, QA can be embedded in the design and development stage itself with testing being done earlier in the application development lifecycle to uncover errors much ahead of application release.