Quality Assurance In Multi-Channel Banking Era

vivek

There has been a significant rise in demand for software quality assurance (QA) technology in India’s rapidly changing banking sector. Many banks can be seen committing serious investments in software quality assurance and software quality engineering technologies to stay competitive. The growing importance of quality assurance needs to be viewed in the context of how the sector has been evolving over the last three years.

Multi-channel banking—consumer banking via multiple channels such as ATM, POS, net-banking, and mobile banking—which was once a great-to-have capability, became a prerequisite during this period. In August 2015, 11 payment banks became operational with an approval by Reserve Bank of India (RBI). While helping the Indian government further its financial inclusion goals, payment banks created a new competition to existing banks. Entry of Reliance Jio in August 2016 was another disruptive event. As 4G internet became affordable, it provided a fillip to consumer adoption of mobile apps for financial transactions. By then, the government’s Make in India programme had started showing results with mobile makers starting to sell affordable smart phones manufactured in India.

Demonetisation that sucked out 85% of cash in circulation was the next disruptive event of this period. While demonetisation adversely impacted business sentiment, it triggered an explosive growth in digital adoption. This period saw an entry of multiple fintech start-ups in India’s financial services sector. All these developments collectively prompted banks to focus on multiple channels for transactions and customer-engagement.

With multi-channel banking turning into an irreversible trend, the smooth functioning of the backend IT ecosystems has become critically important for banks today. That has led to a strong growth in awareness and demand for quality assurance (QA) solutions as witnessed.

State of digital readiness

Different types of organisations are active in India’s banking sector today: payment banks, fintechs, and legacy banks. Payment banks are born digital with their business models being driven by digitalisation. Fintech start-ups are agile tech-shops that specialise in niche areas within banking. By creating competition to existing players, fintechs and payment banks have been catalysing a wider adoption of digital technologies in the banking sector. Even as there exist a few digital technology laggards, most legacy banks have started building multi-channel banking capabilities by creating suitable technology stacks for their sustenance.

Growing complexities

From the IT systems perspective, core banking was the only key enterprise application that banks had―traditionally. However, with multi-channel, multi-modal banking becoming a reality, a plethora of systems have been added to a bank’s application infrastructure. At the bank’s backend, the monolithic APIs are fast being replaced by microservices that facilitate delivery of specific services such as location based offers, balance inquiry, funds transfer, credit card payment, etc.

Add to this the overabundant installed base of user devices, OS flavours, screen sizes and internet options, and a banking CTO has a highly complex multi-channel banking ecosystem to manage. Ensuring smooth functioning of such complex IT ecosystem that enables multi-channel banking, therefore, calls for strong QA efforts on part of the banking CTOs.

Starting from development testing which checks software for robustness and scalability of architecture through validation of functional correctness and performance perspectives, quality assurance incorporates system integration testing to ensure that multiple banking services delivered work smoothly across channels. The QA testing ensures the software that enables multi-channel banking passes on the parameters of reliability and functionality besides a look-and-feel.

Continuous quality engineering: The need of the hour

The digital experience that a bank creates is determined by the quality of software that powers it. A true quality-test of bank’s software happens when consumers use its services. Given the hyper-impatient nature of the modern customer, a bank needs to focus on continuous quality improvement through regular quality assurance effort even after its services go live.

Today’s banking customer is spoilt by digital choices. For instance, just for transactions there are a range of choices including RTGS, NEFT, IMPS, UPI, and multiple mobile wallets. Consumers expect a bank’s user-experience to be comparable with the likes of Google, Amazon, WhatsApp and Uber in terms of speed, choices, interactivity and convenience. A customer may simply switch to another bank if a bank’s service delivery is not glitch-free, or if the user-interface is not adequately intuitive, or if it does not meet her/ his own expectations.

In multi-channel banking, the customer also demands a uniform and seamless service experience across channels―ATM, POS, net-banking, phone banking and mobile banking. Lastly, this user-experience also needs to be the same for users from remote locations vis-à-vis the metropolitan centers. A bank’s brand promise is lost if its systems are not up and running in remote locations. Continuous quality engineering that factors in all these parameters while building and modifying the software proves to be the right solution given this context.