The banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry works with sensitive information — and this makes it a prime target for cyberattacks. That’s why any piece of technology that the BFSI sector uses — banking applications, banking systems, and other software — calls for thorough testing.
But testing banking applications is challenging because of their complexity. A lack of strategy can result in significant catastrophe. TransUnion SA experienced these consequences firsthand when the credit union lost the data of three million customers to a cyberattack.
Having strong protocols in place is only one piece of the puzzle — testing your applications and ensuring they’re up to the task of guarding against hackers is even more essential.
The path to successful testing starts with gaining banking domain knowledge and understanding how to create a strategy for banking application testing. Thorough testing of banking domain applications reduces the threat of breaches and cyberattacks, making online banking services safe and reliable.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the details of banking domain testing, why it’s essential, and how to implement it.
What Is Banking Domain Testing?
The word “domain” in software testing refers to the industry in which the testing process is carried out. If a team tests banking software, they would refer to their software testing procedure as a banking domain. Other domains include the gaming domain, retail domain, and telecommunications domain.
Specifying the domain is important because each industry requires a unique approach. For example, banking software must be highly secure to protect user data while allowing users to see their minimum balance, transfer money, and view account details.
Developing and testing these features requires teams to create custom scripts, so most companies working on banking software will hire a person with domain knowledge.
When working on banking application testing, teams work with two types of banking sectors:
The traditional banking sector includes core banking, retail banking, and corporate banking.
The service-based banking sector includes service software used in banking, such as loans, trade finance, private banking, and consumer finance.
Whichever sector your banking domain application belongs in, testing its functionality, usability, and security is crucial to its success.
Why Is Testing Important for Banking Applications?
Quality assurance teams test to ensure that software meets compliance and industry standards, maintains the reputation of the banking organization that will use it, and creates a leaner development process. The goal of testing is to ultimately roll out a banking domain application that works well, is user-friendly, and secure.
Some of the top reasons for banking domain application testing are to ensure that:
Application activities and features work well and can be executed while maintaining security standards.
Application parts work with each other, and one feature won’t create additional bugs and glitches in another.
The application is built according to industry guidelines and applicable laws and regulations for financial transactions.
The application can perform well even during peak business hours without disruptions or problems through performance testing.
The application meets all privacy and security laws and regulations in the geographies where it will be deployed.
The application is integrated with the necessary systems to provide an excellent user experience.
Common Features Tested in Banking Applications
Banking domain knowledge is specialized, but when you test banking domain applications, you’ll encounter common features across different software.
So before you start creating a list of features to test and creating sample test cases, take a look at some of the most common features you might need to build and test in software developed for the banking industry:
Support for thousands of concurrent user sessions
Integration with other applications, giving users the ability to pay bills, make credit cards transactions, and more
Fast and secure transaction processing
Massive storage system
High auditing capability to troubleshoot customer issues
Support for complex workflows
Support for multiple platforms, such as Mac, Windows, Linux, and Unix
Support for users across multiple locations
Support for multi-lingual usage
Support for multi-currency
Support for various payment systems, such as MasterCard, Visa, and Amex
Support for multiple service sectors (if it is a service-based banking application)
Robust disaster management features
The Main Banking Domain Testing Phases
Starting your software testing project for a banking application is a daunting task. It requires thorough knowledge of financial transactions and the banking software industry in general.
It also calls for testing knowledge as you’ll need to carry out valid and invalid tests, use existing branch test data to ensure all code is executed, and use existing test data to determine test cases.
End-to-end testing requires several steps, but in the end, you will have created a banking application that meets banking requirements, supports complex business workflows, is secure with confidential financial data, and provides a great user experience.
Let’s go through each of these phases and understand what they entail.
Phase #1: Requirements Analysis and Review
The first step is to gather and review the requirements for the banking application. The requirements outline the functionality that a particular banking app must have to be usable.
Business analysts gather requirements based on research from banking experts and documented customer needs. The banking expert specifies the types of modules that must be tested for the banking application, such as credit cards, transfers, loan accounts, and reports.
They also specify which business scenarios must be supported so they can start creating sample test cases.
After that, QA engineers, development leads, and peer business analysts review the requirements to ensure that all existing business workflows and new workflows are supported and validated. The requirements document may be revised at this point.
Finally, quality analysts, business analysts, and development leads review the requirements document again to ensure that all necessary workflows are supported and cross-check to verify that one workflow doesn’t interrupt the business scenario of another.
These business requirements will serve as test cases. And once your requirements document is ready, you can then proceed to gather test data that you will use for your different test types. If you already have various test data, you must sift through them to determine whether they are valid or invalid.
Phase #2: Database Testing
The first test you should implement on your newly acquired test data is database testing. Databases in the banking industry are complicated, and that’s why testing should be done by database specialists. Database testing ensures that:
The banking application can store and retrieve data from a database without losing the data.
The application can commit to completed transactions and revert aborted transactions.
Only authorized users and applications can access the database.
Some of the testing techniques that experienced QA engineers use to implement successful testing are:
Testing Stored Procedures and Functions
Testing Database Schema and Datatypes
Phase #3: Functional Testing
Once it’s clear that the back-end or database portion of the banking application is working well, you should test the functionality of each business scenario.
Because banking applications are so complex and deal with personal financial transactions, testing must be thorough and done by QA engineers with banking domain knowledge.
The following is an example of a functional test.
When you do an online money transfer or fixed deposit, the sender’s account must be debited, and the recipient’s account must be credited with the same amount. If, for some reason, the transaction fails, then it should be reverted, and the sender’s account must not be debited or credited back.
You can go through functional testing by using black box and white box testing. Once you have the right test cases and the right stakeholders completed the test case review, QA engineers can go through test case execution with manual or automatic techniques using tools such as QTP and QC.
Phase #4: Structural Testing
Structural testing involves tests that ensure all data types in tables and databases are in sync with the variables that correspond in the application. This is also called validating data and referential integrity in database tables.
QA engineers test various database objects, such as the entire databases, schemas, views, tables, triggers, and access controls. Structural testing basically ensures that the banking application is structurally sound.
Phase #5: Non-functional Testing
Non-functional testing involves load testing, stress testing, and performance optimization. This type of test helps identify the maximum number of transactions that can be performed in the app concurrently without negatively impacting database performance.
An example of this type of testing is usage during peak business hours. If too many transactions happen simultaneously, then the banking application must add more resources to function well, and vice versa.
When a banking application works well under stress, it allows the banking organization to use its resources more efficiently.
Phase #6: Integration Testing
Any banking application will have different modules related to payments, deposits, and transfers. All these modules must be integrated. Some apps might even have external integrations with other applications, depending on the complexity of business requirements.
Integration testing involves making sure each module works well with the other and that integrating one component or feature doesn’t introduce new bugs or glitches to the others.
Phase #7: Usability Testing
One of the critical business requirements of any banking application is its usability. This means that different types of users with different levels of technology proficiency can successfully use the app.
Usability testing involves a variety of test case execution steps to understand whether the app’s interface is simple and efficient enough to be used by anyone.
If the application is easy to use, it can be ready for the market. That’s why this type of testing is not only implemented by quality assurance teams but by business users as well.
While not all banking applications go through usability testing, it is important. The main benefit is the feedback you get from business users and end users, which can help you modify the app to make it more attractive and ready for market.
But, you should be aware that considering too many end-user opinions can derail development and testing as new requirements surface. This may influence the roadmap and could eventually delay the launch of the application.
If you choose to go through usability testing, consider the following types:
Comparative usability testing is where your banking application is compared with the main competitor to ensure the best user experience.
Explorative usability testing aims to identify new features the application should have to meet customer requirements.
Phase #8: Security Testing
One of the essential aspects of testing banking applications is ensuring that the security of sensitive financial data is top-notch. Security testing does precisely that.
This testing process is usually done at the end when the teams have gone through the non-functional and functional testing checklist. The main goal of security testing is not only to prevent unauthorized breaches but also to comply with privacy and security regulations.
Most teams use tools such as IBM AppScan or HP WebInspect to scan the application and find vulnerabilities. When undergoing test case preparation, quality assurance teams include valid and invalid or negative and positive test scenarios. By doing so, they break into the banking application and find loopholes in the security stance that the teams can fix.
The QA team reports vulnerabilities to the development team for them to fix. This goes on in several iterations until all teams are satisfied with the security performance of the application and are sure that sensitive data cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties.
In addition to using automation tools for security testing, many teams go through penetration testing for all platforms, networks, and operating systems that the application will be used on.
Other techniques for testing banking applications from a security perspective are:
A security audit is where teams audit the application and its associated networks for security loopholes.
Risk assessment is where the QA teams assess the level of risk if the application suffers a breach or a hack. They categorize the risks into low, medium, and high levels and prepare various measures to take in case there is an issue.
Ethical hacking is where a third-party organization tries to actively hack into the application, effectively identifying security vulnerabilities so development teams can fix them.
Posture assessment is an umbrella assessment that combines security scanning, ethical hacking, and risk assessments.
An SQL injection happens when testing teams execute queries in the database to ensure the code is working well. The queries are based on user inputs, such as brackets, commas, apostrophes, and quotation marks.
Successful testing teams use various security testing techniques to ensure the fortification of the app. By using a combination of methods and continuous security monitoring, organizations can create banking apps that stay one step ahead of sophisticated hackers and protect sensitive user data.
Five Challenges of Testing Any Banking Domain
Understanding how to test a banking domain application and going through the process are two different things. Testing a banking application can be very challenging, mainly due to the lack of data, the legal landscape and regulations that financial services must meet, and how difficult it is to pass user acceptance testing.
Here are the five most common challenges of testing banking applications.
1) Incomplete Requirements Documentation
Beginning the testing phase for any banking application becomes more challenging if there are gaps in documentation.
Without proper documentation, quality assurance teams may not create the right test cases and will lack test data. As such, there will be functional gaps in the test plan, which may lead to a failure to test essential features.
The best way to overcome this challenge is to ensure that all teams are aligned when it comes to documenting requirements, and prior to testing, the requirements document is vetted and approved by relevant stakeholders.
2) Replicating Production Data as Test Data
Accessing production data for any banking application is difficult because teams cannot launch the app, obtain data, and then go through test preparation.
Even if you manage to get production data, replicating it as test data can be complex. You’ll have to account for regulatory compliance requirements and guidelines, which require you to protect the confidentiality of real-world data.
To overcome this challenge, try to use techniques such as data masking, testing system integration, and synthetic test data. These techniques will help you keep sensitive data anonymous and have good testing results.
3) Staying Compliant
Developing, testing, and launching a banking application that is compliant with federal and state privacy and security regulations is becoming more difficult. That’s because the legal landscape for protecting customer and user data is extremely complex.
A great way to win the compliance challenge is to include banking domain and legal experts in your testing process. They can advise you on the steps needed to be compliant. You can create an excellent banking application and avoid fines that result from noncompliance.
4) Extending the Banking Application to Mobile Banking
Most application users today rely on their mobile devices to check their balances, make transfers, pay bills, and take care of other banking needs. So when you create a banking application, it should work both on desktop and mobile devices.
But extending an application to mobile has its own set of challenges, taking into account the number of mobile devices present in the market and the different types of operating systems.
The best way to overcome this obstacle is to allocate time and budget for mobile testing and follow mobile testing strategies.
5) Migrating the Banking Application to a New System
If you already have a live banking application and want to test it in a new system, you’re in for a large and arduous project. You’ll have to get the new data uploaded and transferred to the new system without breaking the app completely.
To migrate your banking app successfully, make sure that you go through regression testing and execute the same cases in the old and new systems. Ensure the results of each test in each system match.
Tips to Improve Testing in Any Banking Domain Application
With so many challenges and phases to consider when testing banking applications, ensuring success lies in creating a specific testing strategy and continuously refining it as you gain more insights and feedback. Here are a few tips that can help you improve your strategy for testing banking applications:
Use regular testing with a banking domain team.
Involve a high enough number of end-users for feedback.
Combine automatic and manual testing techniques.
Use real devices instead of emulators to test in a real-world setting.
Banking applications are necessary for allowing end users to interact with their financial data. But creating and testing a well-functioning application takes time, patience, and domain knowledge.
You’ll want an expert team with banking domain experience, a thorough collection of business requirements, and the use of various testing techniques. All this can lead to the launch of a banking application that works well and is secure.
Because testing banking applications is so challenging, having an experienced software testing company can help resolve each issue that can arise.
XBOSoft specializes in providing quality assurance services with comprehensive strategies that complement your in-house development needs. Our software testing teams have deep expertise across domains, platforms, frameworks, and mediums, so they can help you test and launch a successful banking application.
Known for being a great singer at Karaoke, Amy also likes to listen to hard rock music. Her favorite TV Show is the Incredible Hulk, and she loves suspenseful movies. After working at XBOSoft for over 4 years, she is constantly trying to improve her testing skills.Her most favorite thing at work is working with her team as she loves working together and feeling the team spirit at XBOSoft, also known as "XBO Family". She's known amongst her teammates as an excellent functional tester with great attention to detail.