Iflexion
3 Pillars of App Development for the Banking Industry

3 Pillars of App Development for the Banking Industry

Developing a mobile app for any industry is a serious endeavor, but the banking industry is on a whole new level. Web app development is to banking as runs are to baseball and once an app that covers all the necessary bases is created, you’ll score a home run.

Banking is on the forefront of many technologies such as cyber security, online payment integrations, authentication, UX/UI and many more, and when these are properly blended, the end result is a functional banking app.

But how do great banking apps actually get to that ‘Hall of Fame’ level? How can you, as a decision-maker within a bank, make sure that your app performs just the way you want it to?

When communicating your requirements to the developer of your future app there are certain things that you have to keep in mind. But what’s more important is that you have to keep these things in the developer’s mind. The method is not important: whether it’s user stories, technical documentation or a presentation of your app requirements, make sure that the following requirements are met and understood by the developer right from the start, as these are the pillars of app development for the banking industry.

Security

Security

You might think that making your app secure is just common sense. But depending on the dev team that you want to go with, it’s not always about the app’s code. If you don’t personally pick the developers, you need to be able to stress the importance of security. We’re talking about secure coding and secure coders.

The app may be ‘unbreakable’ once it’s released but you never know what coding practices were enforced by the team or its separate individuals. A breach within the team means a possible breach within the app. Yes, the scenario is improbable, but you have to be prepared for anything when millions are at stake.

Security is a multi-dimensional issue, and that’s why you also have to keep in mind your end users when working on a banking app. Let’s face it, people are really bad with online security, and some don’t even know basic things like what a truly secure password looks like.

You have to account for these things and not let your potential users control the security of the app. This means that you have to control the password that they create, possibly to the point of generating it for them. Consider multi-level authentication login options, tracking suspicious IP activity, and so on. Sure, this makes the app less usable in certain cases, like when a person has a habit of using public networks and the usual authentication might take longer. However, in the end, you’ll be sure that the human factor doesn’t play such an important role in your app’s defense.

Future-Proofing

If you already have a complete set of technical requirements for your banking app, then I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news: it’s likely that they are already outdated. There are thousands of security breaches happening around the world every year and unfortunately, hacking and intrusion methods are becoming more sophisticated. It’s only a matter of time until the hackers start employing AI in their operations.

The same goes for the underlying technology for an app and its possible functions. You absolutely have to account for obsolescence when discussing the requirements with the app’s developer. It’s either your job or theirs to ensure that the technologies used for the app are not just simply industry standards, but also go above and beyond in terms of being future-proof.

For example, it’s pretty obvious that traditional banking is reaching the end of its life cycle. With fintech companies taking over banking services, it’s imperative to be able to compete with them. A banking organization has to follow the market and the market is clearly going for convenience, accessibility, mobility and functionality. Does your banking app reflect that? If the answer is ‘no’, then it will be obsolete before it even debuts in your preferred app store.

Testing

Testing

Every app goes through a round of testing before going live, however, with a banking app you have to test it more rigorously than other apps. It has to support thousands of users simultaneously, integrate with numerous third parties, perfectly report user activities and be able to handle a large database. There’s a long check list of things that have to go smoothly within the app and that’s why your testing routines and KPIs have to be as extensive as the actual development process. Consider this a heads up for why you should include all of this testing in your development budget. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s not redundant: you’re paying for the future stability of the product, as well as potentially avoiding lawsuits.

Words like security, future-proofing and testing can be intimidating, but the first step is ensuring that your testing requirements are clearly communicated to the development team. Write this down and obey it: do not accept the final product until all of your testing requirements have been met. Encourage your IT experts to rip it apart and find every potential problem. Finally, be sure that your banking app is secure, technically advanced and that your development team has done everything to fully test the app and its features before it goes live.

Once you’ve checked everything off the list, go ahead hit one out of the park with your new banking app!

Darya Shmat

Darya has spent over a decade in the banking industry, working on various projects and in multiple capacities since 2003. In the early 2000s, a lot of the processes were manual, and no one had even conceptualized mobile payments and other technologies that are prevalent in the niche today. Darya witnessed the technological growth of the industry from within, as banks digitized and embraced mobile technology. Over the span of her career she has participated in a variety of projects that deal with operations automation, analysis, beta testing, auditing, efficiency evaluation, and other modernization efforts undertaken by banking institutions. She knows firsthand about the technological transformation that the banking industry is steadily going through. Today, Darya works as a business development representative at Iflexion and expertly applies her practical experience to help our banking and financial industry clients find the right development or QA solution.

  • Hannah Thompson

    I’m so glad you touched on both security and future-proofing because I feel like some banking apps don’t emphasis these enough.
    I get so frustrated with apps that require ridiculous standards for a password, (we’ve all seen the meme: 1 uppercase, 1 number, 1 symbol, tears of a unicorn and 4 leaf clover, etc), yet have no two-factor authentication.
    I also read that in South Korea banks are still using ActiveX for banking platforms. I’m not sure how much this carries over to their banking apps, but talk about lack of future-proofing. It’s like having a Ferrari but only being able to drive in 1st gear when you want to go to the bank.

  • Micheline Logan

    Retail banking is not a complex process, traditional banks have made it so, and are grappling with legacy systems at the back end. Very few of them run genuine omnichannel environments, but tack on a mobile app through which the customer can engage, in the belief that it is just another channel to add, like Internet banking. The frightening reality is that the banks really believe they are at the forefront of digital disruption: I was at an event a couple of months ago, where a very bright young man was talking about how the bank was using design thinking to bring exciting new products to market. Unfortunately he works at my bank, where the card division, mortgages, current accounts and retail asset finance have been in silos for the last 30 years and show no signs of consolidating.
    Another problem with security of banking mobile apps is that there is a 3rd party in the loop, the telco. When something goes wrong, and it does, there is much fingerpointing between the bank and the telco, with little relief for the customer.