Testing and Developing Open Banking Apps
The integration of open source services into everyday life represents a huge opportunity for both companies and consumers. Companies can increase engagement with users, while customers benefit from increased accessibility and efficiency. It’s no surprise that the finance industry would be interested in exploring these software solutions as alternative channels to bring services to customers that they could once only get at a physical location. From mortgage lending to money transfers, the potential to capture customers is huge. But what are the actual benefits? What are the risks? Open banking is the future, but today we have to be strategic about laying a secure and functional software foundation.
What is Open Banking?
Over the past few years, the concept of open banking has emerged as a defining trend in the financial industry. Through open source development, open banking seeks to provide a safe and trustworthy digital environment to share personal information, whether it be for customers to check their balances or complete external transactions.
Open banking can also mean allowing third-party developers to build apps around banking organizations, mainly through usage of Open APIs. This would include applications such as Mint.com, which allows users to track savings and spending by linking all bank accounts in their proprietary software. From a distance, this kind of data sharing certainly seems like a no-brainer, but with the sensitive nature of financial data, these kind of programs need to be carefully strategized, developed, and tested.
It’s paramount to consider that customers are putting faith in your platform as being a reliable and more accessible alternative to traditional banking. With that in mind, any inconsistencies in the app’s performance will likely lead to people ditching the online services or, worse, finding a new banking institution. There are several areas where functionality and performance could be strained, creating a dire need for extensive testing.
Many banking apps are integrated with third-party applications, such as e-commerce or tracking of spending. The wider a banking app’s ability to work with other programs, the more successful it likely will be. As new third-party apps are integrated, there will be a need for exhaustive regression testing to ensure all portions of the software are operating correctly.
As banks and third-party companies encourage their users to switch to an online application, any success in that area will inevitably lead to increased traffic and a heavy load on the app. While it may be no big deal if, say, your Facebook app crashes while you’re in the middle of liking a status, the same can’t be said for financial apps. In these cases, users may be in the middle of transferring funds or making a credit card payment, so any breakdowns in performance could be hugely impactful. Another point of consideration may be peak times during a day or week, such as paydays or the holiday shopping seasons. An app’s ability to perform under heavy weight and usage is going to be make-or-break in determining its success.
When it comes to the sharing of data, few other categories are strongly guarded as financial information. Logging in to a bank’s website often requires multiple levels of verification, and sometimes a false fraud alert can be triggered by signing in through an unknown IP address. Companies like PayPal or even cryptocurrency standard BitCoin have been developed specifically to ensure that bank information need not be shared online, so as to avoid the possibility of any identity theft. Any banking application, be it from a financial institution or a third-party company, will need vigorous security testing to avoid any possible hackers from gaining access. Additionally, banking is an industry governed by a long list of legal requirements. Any application designed to share bank data in any way needs to be certain that it meets all laws set forth by regulatory authorities.
A main selling point of open source banking applications is the ability to manage funds while on the go. Commercials for such products usually depict a busy adult working hard at the office suddenly receiving a notification from his or her bank. With a couple quick taps on their smart device, the pending issue is handled and they can return their focus to work. This is certainly an ideal concept, but it cannot be achieved without being as close to device agnostic as possible. Not only are there a huge number of device types and operating systems, but each one will be using a slightly different version of their specific software. If a bank wants their customers to take advantage of online tools, they can’t risk alienating a portion of users because the newest version of the iPhone doesn’t work with their software.
Overall, these apps can deliver a more personalized and relaxed banking experience. That being said, there are multiple areas that will require an emphasis on testing for quality assurance. The safety of the information, the usability and functionality, and the ability to access from all mobile devices will determine the success rate of these applications. Just be sure you’re partnering with the right people and using the right tools to build software your consumers can trust and rely on.