Why Financial Services Cannot Take Software QA Lightly?



Banks and other financial institutions have come a long way from acting as simple lenders, borrowers and givers. Over the past century, this sector has seen digitalisation at record speeds – where once transactions were kept saved in files and folders to now in intricate layers of code all operating in unison. But code brings with it inherent vulnerabilities that have been unfavourably exploited in the past. 

The Cost of Financial IT Disasters

In 2016, after a breach in the IT infrastructure by hackers, Bangladesh’s central bank lost nearly $100 million in one swoop. Similarly and shortly afterwards, Russian commercial and central banks announced that hackers had stolen more than $30 million. The UK’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and America’s Knight Capital both underwent fundamentally large and costly process failures in the summer of 2012.

Perhaps the most notorious incident occurred with the UK’s TSB Bank, where in April 2018, millions of users were locked out of their accounts. What was to be a routine maintenance update, led to months of disruptions to its customers. After its CEO stepped down, and nearly a $200 million loss incurred to the financial service provider, some semblance of normalcy returned. But it was a little too late for the bank’s users, stranded abroad and unable to make purchases.

In February 2020, Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee stated that he perceives the biggest risk to financial systems as being cybersecurity. And he’s not wrong. With the dependence on software and FinTech systems, problems can and do arise. Now whether the threat is due to software defects/bugs or hackers, it remains a challenging terrain even today. 

How to Mitigate IT Failure in Financial Services

So while governments can intervene and criticise banks for their failures, it’s ultimately down to the banks and their software providers to iron out the defects in their IT infrastructure. Banks should be required to adopt more data-driven service-based architectures. 

Due to the sheer volume that banks and other financial service providers have to deal with on a consistent basis, service issues do arise. But one fault can have a ripple effect on the rest of the legacy systems most banks employ. And the fact of the matter is that the longer banks wait to update their architecture, the more susceptible they become to vulnerabilities and issues. 

The good news is that some have already begun the shift. In 2018, Lloyds announced it will be investing over £3 billion into improving its digital capabilities, and an additional £11 million investment in a new core banking provider. 

Where QA Comes In

As aforementioned, banks and financial services can only do so much – especially if they rely on third-party software to run their services. Reliance on testing companies increases manyfolds and can prove cost-effective for the banks in the long run. 

Assess, monitor, optimize & leverage performance; are all needs lined up for QA testers by most banks for their Core banking applications, legacy systems, digital applications etc. For this purpose, functionality, user experience, security, performance under load and stress, are vital which are usually tested by deploying multiple techniques, tools, and experts.

Owing to its complex nature, banking applications, more often than not, continuous testing is adopted so that from the requirement stage to the development, the code is in line with what a particular function should do, how an application would behave under stress, and what the customers will face when prompted against any notification. Not just that, keeping tabs on the ever-changing versions of apps is another mountain that testers must climb for smooth transitioning apps. This is basically most important in terms of security, as hackers don’t rest and keep trying new ways to mess with the finance.

Here are a few important steps that are followed by a tester for financial apps:

  1. Requirement gathering 
  2. Understanding requirements
  3. Developing Test Scenarios & Test Cases
  4. Functionality Test
  5. Database test
  6. Security test
  7. Usability test
  8. Performance test

Depending on what kind of project is at hand, some steps might vary from one another, like in case of updates to the old versions or migration of data from old to new, reconciliation of ledger would be required and taken care of by testers. In addition to the aforesaid points, a clearly defined, end–to–end testing methodology can also take your Fintech software a long way. With software testing having the right skillset might not be enough, as banking sector requires for testers to be experts, who can gauge the problems efficiently and without a worry, have tools like Kualitee, test management, to manage changes, updates, reporting, test cases, as well as knowledge of best practices. 

The need to mention all the stages is that if banks start to second-guess software testing they suffer, at the hands of bad user experience, faulty apps, downtime, security flaws  and other many problems Be it the initial stage of information and data gathering, or assessing need, conducting tests or reporting bugs, it’s a must have to deal with the problems and deliver bug free apps.  

Aiming to implement the aforementioned practices require huge investments both in terms of expenses and efforts but the process can be streamlined by having a trusted partner. Banks end up saving a lot of money and time in addition to ensuring business continuity and the best protection.

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