Credit card

Bharath Kumar Mani, Client Director, Expleo

Quality assurance provides guardrails for banks against the reputational damage of systems failure, says Bharath Kumar Mani. In the complex industry of cards and payments, it pays to double check you’re doing it right.

It’s not so long ago that most customers selected their bank for practical reasons such as family loyalty or locality. Customer service was a free parking space or a cup of tea. Nowadays, of course, many of the local branches have gone, and it’s the customer experience that dictates whether we stick with the bank we know, or switch to a more tempting offer.

In today’s aggressive sector, banks live or die by their reputation. To retain current customers and attract new ones, banks must keep improving their customer experience. But this constant battle for competitive edge requires a double-edged sword. Get it right, and the praise will quickly spread across the review sites and consumer magazines that your bank is setting the pace. Get it wrong, however, and the bad headlines and tweets will follow. A major systems failure, for example, can cause devastating damage to your brand’s status that will take many months to redeem.

Cards and payments are some of the most important touchpoints for a frictionless customer experience. This relies on rock-solid back-end ecosystems of applications that comply with new regulations, support innovative payment applications, cut costs and reduce time to market. Quality assurance (QA) is your guardrail against disaster. So, why is it that banks will risk cutting corners in quality, when there is so much at stake?

Make haste slowly

To stay ahead of competitors, banks must both respond quickly to changes and threats in their end-to-end (E2E) ecosystem, and implement new digital channels to improve banking access for customers, whether through mobile or web-based apps, smart watches or new facial recognition technologies. All the same, launching into new technologies and FinTech solutions requires a robust QA strategy and a specialised QA team, if banks want to deliver consistent quality products on time and within budget.

In particular, the migration, transformation and innovation of card payment solutions such as TSYS or FirstData (now FiServ) platforms bring immense challenges and opportunities. These market leaders provide excellent platforms, creating opportunities for banks to shift away from inefficient in-house legacy systems to shared service models in the cloud. But they are highly complex, demanding a high degree of domain and platform expertise to deliver quality service without which you’ll end up with a poor piece of software that fails in production , that sort of attention to detail and rigour can be off-putting. Is it worth the risk?

Resist the squeeze

Banks face severe challenges in defining and managing the ever-changing scope of requirements that must be delivered to successfully complete a new platform implementation or upgrade. This is down to the lack of documentation that’s available for the legacy applications. To make matters worse, the test window is always reduced to cover delays in design and development, often resulting in poor test planning, coverage and execution thereby reducing the quality of the product and increasing the risk. The quality becomes squeezed.

Data migration can be an undervalued part of the process when it comes to adopting new systems. The new application you’re adopting is often seen as the actual investment. Conversely (and wrongly, in my opinion), data migration planning is then considered as an “action of less importance”. But if banks skimp on aspects such as source data quality, volume, governance and reconciliation, then the consequences of system failure in the future could make that upfront expenditure feel like loose change.

Regulatory compliance is another bear trap. The card payments business is already a highly regulated industry and the loopholes will continue to tighten. Banks will need to spend an increasing segment of their discretionary budget on staying compliant, and on building systems and processes to keep up with the escalating requirements. Quality assurance can help treat headaches before they develop. Prevention is always the best cure.

Expleo brings extensive experience in cards and payments, in particular across card payment solutions such as TSYS or FirstData platforms. We provide the people, processes and tools to accelerate delivery and reduce time to market, while maintaining highest levels of quality assurance. Contact us to find out more.