Mobile phones have changed the way many people do banking and led to the creation of many “virtual” banks that provide their services only online. In this case, the mobile app is one the key element for customer contact. In this article, Pavel Novik outlines the main software testing activities to deliver successful mobile banking apps.
Author: Pavel Novik, A1QA, http://www.a1qa.com/
There is no question about how smartphones and mobile devices have significantly changed the way we do our banking. A simple one-click app download can give us access to services that were once available only in person at a bank branch. A decade ago, the idea of accessing banking account information on a smartphone would sound suspicious and too risky. Today, most people feel completely comfortable with being dependent on a mobile app to transfer money and pay bills.
Every year, more and more people install apps to manage finances. According to a 2016 survey conducted in technologically advanced countries, 62 percent of respondents from the United States  prefer to make payments via mobile or online banking (compared to only 51 percent in 2015). The same kind of change is true for Great Britain where branch visits keep falling. The British Banking Association (BBA) revealed  branch interactions decreased 32 percent in 2016 compared to 2011.
It is no wonder that nearly all banks are now committed to developing a user-friendly app to meet the ever-growing needs of mobile users who want secure 24/7 access to their banking accounts from anywhere at any time. Seeing that a banking app gets high ratings in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, one will be further confident to download it and trust their money to a one-stop, mobile banking platform.
Common Features of Top Banking Apps
A bank’s mobile application can be the main interaction point between the bank and the customer. But what app characteristics are crucial to find favor in the eyes of mobile users?
The app should be fast and easy to use, allowing customers to check their balances in three seconds rather than the 30 seconds actually necessary to login to internet banking, or half an hour to travel to the nearest ATM or bank branch. Some will implement the fingerprint ID, a feature that started to appear on mobile apps not too long ago, allowing access to the app with a single tap of the screen.
If you analyze the top ranked mobile banking apps, you will see that they all enable users to do the following:
- Check account balances and transactions
- View statements
- Make payments (with an option to automatically withdraw funds for monthly payments)
- Send and get money using just a mobile phone number
- Receive notifications about completed transactions and alerts for any suspicious activity
- Apply for a mortgage, credit line, and other financial products
- Find the nearest branch or cash machine of your bank
- Get in touch with customer service
- Use a loan calculator
- See exchange rates
Moreover, the app is expected to support customers on various payment systems (MasterCard, VISA, etc.) and on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone).
If you have developed all these functionalities, you will have delivered a competitive mobile app leaving one key step before your product can go live.
Mobile App Testing Is of the Utmost Importance
The banking app features you have carefully developed can be left unnoticed if there is no detailed QA testing in your plan.
To increase the apps credibility, it should work smoothly anytime and anywhere. In this context, banking or financial institutions that want to be successful in the market and receive positive user testimonials should include a software testing team in their development plan. This team should be expected to perform testing of the mobile banking product under real user conditions, on multiple types of devices and in a timely manner before releasing the app to the public. Professional testers will also make sure that all confidential information/data is secure.
The Stages of the Successful Mobile App Testing
Requirements testing. The QA team reviews and tests against the requirements gathered and documented by a business analyst.
Analysis of marketing trends and defining the most popular devices. As there are thousands of available devices on the market, it is crucial to define the target audience/region and select those devices that are expected to be most likely used by the end-clients.
Configure devices for unit testing. When selecting a QA company to test your app, find out whether they run their own mobile testing lab equipped with the latest device units. The set of the devices should be constantly updated to include the latest advances in the mobile industry.
Introduce test automation. Test automation allows the tester to achieve several important objectives: speed up testing by increasing the amount of tests performed in one build; help to detect and fix bugs faster; avoid human-factor errors and run more precise tests on various devices, browsers and operating systems.
Usability testing. Identifying usability issues is the first step of making the application easier to use. In the case of banking apps, QA teams should make sure that people of different abilities have the opportunity to successfully use the app (e.g., aurally or visually challenged users may search for ATMs with hearing or Braille aids).
Database testing. This ensures data integrity, loading and migration.
Performance testing. This type of testing detects weak spots and confirms the speed and effectiveness of the app (e.g., login process, purchase or funds transfer completion) corresponds to high standards.
Testing under external interruptions. Imitating real world user environments validates the app will work despite any disruptions such as network and location settings change, phone call interruptions, low battery alerts, and other apps running in the background.
Security testing. Security is a matter of primary importance for any banking app. The QA team should write negative and positive test scenarios to detect all bottlenecks and guarantee the app is well protected from hackers – at least as much as is possible.
It is simple to switch banks for better mobile payment services. If a bank’s app is not working properly and performance issues arise frequently, sophisticated mobile users will not think twice before switching to a more mobile savvy competitor. Paying close attention to customers’ needs, and building a high quality mobile app with advanced functionality can help banks avoid this fate.
About the Author
Pavel Novik manages the mobile testing department and the Center of Excellence at A1QA. With more than six years of experience in the software quality assurance industry, Pavel focuses on technologies and approaches that enable seamless and efficient testing of mobile applications, wearable technologies and IoT objects.
1. Bank of America, “Trends in Consumer Mobility Report,” 2016, http://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/files/press_kit/additional/2016_BAC_Trends_in_Consumer_Mobility_Report.pdf
2. British Banking Association (BBA), “The Way We Bank Now: Help at Hand,” Summer 2016, https://www.bba.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/TWWBN3_WEB_Help-at-Hand-2016.pdf