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WHAT MAKES QUALITY ASSURANCE (QA) ESSENTIAL IN A BANKING BLOCKCHAIN

"Even as the acceptance of blockchain as a reliable technology widens in the banking sector, software quality assurance will be a must to ensure these projects succeed"

 

Perceived to be used only for the trading of cryptocurrencies initially, the decentralised electronic ledger technology, popularly known as blockchain, is being employed for multiple purposes by organisations world-over. From insurers (and hospitals) sharing patient health records to consumers sharing excess electricity with each other and with the power grid, to the casting of votes in an election—blockchain offers limitless possibilities to transferring information (or money) securely and transparently.

According to a report published by Grand View Research, the global blockchain technology market is predicted to touch $7.59 billion by 2024, growing by 37.2% year-on-year. The industries driving growth in adoption of blockchain technology include banking and financial services, consumer or industrial products companies, information technology, media and telecom, healthcare, transportation, and public sector undertakings. As per a study conducted by 6Wresearch, India’s blockchain technology market is predicted to grow by 58 per cent annually from 2018 to 2024.

 

Blockchain in banking

One of the key sectors that can leverage blockchain technology to its fullest advantage is banking. According to a study by Juniper Research, blockchain deployments will help banks realise savings on cross-border settlement transactions of more than $27 billion by the end of 2030.

While multiple use cases are available in banking, as per a Reserve Bank of India report by the Working Group on FinTech and Digital Banking, the banks in India are permitted to set up permissioned blockchains for centralized KYC, cross-border payments, Trade finance and syndication of loans, besides for their internal purposes.

Starting with ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and Axis Bank in 2016, more and more banks are looking at examining blockchain’s potential. Given this scenario, as a technology, blockchain is here to stay. For example, in an industry-wide private blockchain deployment, multiple banks can be the participating members. Using such a network, customer KYC documents can be safely shared with each other for cross-validation and to avoid duplication of document processing. Similarly, a blockchain network can be deployed at a global level with participating member banks using it for executing cross-border payment transactions securely. Quality assurance (QA) testing becomes essential in each of these applications of blockchain to ensure that the technology works smoothly delivering the desired benefits.

 

Industry-wide blockchain

Consider centralised KYC as a hypothetical use case example to examine the role played by QA. In an industry-wide permissioned blockchain in which several banks are participants, the process begins with a bank registering itself as a participant. Upon registration, it starts onboarding its customers by uploading their KYC documents to the blockchain network. This data gets converted from images to Hex format at the blockchain level. The bank also whitelists a few other banks on the network it is willing to share its customer KYC data with. Functional and workflow testing become crucial to ensure that the entire process is followed methodically and without errors.

When a whitelisted bank requests for another bank’s customer KYC data, the requester bank is then provided access to that data for a consideration in a currency accepted by all participating banks which could be a virtual currency. The system also needs to be tested for access rights, data privacy, authentication, and transaction consideration.

The data access request and retrieval involve data conversion (to Hex format) and reconversion (back to images) for retrieval, making checks for data sanctity and fidelity (accuracy, protection from loss or tampering, etc.) essential. Auditability, authenticity, data ownership, and Blockchain security controls are other important areas QA testing addresses. As the process is driven by API integration between blockchain framework and application and hence API testing,  business rules & workflow at applications layer and data conversion at blockchain layer are important functions fulfilled by QA.

A few other areas where QA testing plays a major role include usability / Compatibility testing, privileged access management testing, ensuring low response time (performance testing), data encryption, storage and retrieval testing, and security testing.

 

Blockchain adoption considerations

Even as banks look at investing in the permissioned blockchain model, there are a few critical elements they will need to consider to keep risks under control. Examining a few critical aspects beforehand may help a bank conduct quality assurance for any permissioned blockchain implementation successfully.

  • Architecture assessment: Examine the technology architecture and design to be used for the Application presentation layer, API layer to integrate with blockchain framework and the blockchain platform (like Hyperledger Fabric, R3 Corda, Ethereum, Mutlichain, etc). Consider whether nodes are to be hosted on public or on-premise (private) cloud which  consensus mechanism are used.
  • Use Led QA: Consider the end user of application from the perspective of Bank to cover the Bank end QA of app and from Consumer perspective cover the User Experience led QA to ensure that no compromise of quality, Speed of delivery and end User Experience due to technology stack. It is expected to be even better experience then having traditional multi-hand shacking apps.
  • Process flow and integrations: Examine how the existing interfacing systems are connected with blockchain framework. Assess whether the solution is geared to work seamlessly with the bank’s internal systems.
  • Data encryption: Ensure the data and images are encrypted and stored in blockchain and decrypted & retrieved in an error-free manner. The privilege controls within the network and the access provided to other participants nodes need to be clearly defined and tested.
  • Compliance testing: Ensure the regulations related to customer data privacy and other aspects such as storage, authentication and verification are being complied with.

 

An ongoing process

Software quality proves essential not just at the beginning of a blockchain-based centralised KYC, remittances, clearing and settlement, trade finance, loan syndication, etc., but even afterwards. The use of blockchain by banks may be limited in the initial days. However, as the technology matures, banks will expand the scope of blockchain projects, further making quality engineering an essential component of these initiatives.

 

~ Written by Vivek Porwal, Sr. VP & Delivery Head - Banking, ‎QualityKiosk

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: LET’S GET THE FUNDAMENTALS IN PLACE.

 

 

In current era where business cycles are rapidly transforming, and digitisation being a common denominator the variable’s for success that we convey to our clients are more and more becoming acutely tied to their Business sustainability plans and not limited to operational metrics in routine.

 

Within just one of our verticals – BFSI, With 9 out of top 10 private banks that we consistently work with in India alone, we have realised that Business Imperative’s have become more decisively a technology directive that we need to fulfil to ensure our clients and there customer success. With Digital platforms and programs becoming waypoint’s for most organisations on their journey towards digital transformation, one thing is clear, no single path exists that will meet every institutions needs.

 

In fact, in most cases we have observed the choice is not in digital transformation itself but the degree or extent of risk that organisations are willing to take to take the journey. Startups and ecommerce platforms represent one skew of the platform with a higher risk appetite and at the other end traditional organisations and industries are scaling steps towards digitisation through events themed like devops, automation and Customer experience programs.

 

Where is the balance? there is probably none and that probably speaks a lot about the conundrum that many sectors face in the next few years with the decisions they have to make. In our view their will be only two best cases of sustainable business’s: born digital or re-born digital organisations.

 

With our Global clients, Digital Transformation is a organisational wide phenomenon where the business fundamentals are also being looked at and deployments are broken into agile sprints. In the Indian context while agile approaches are being adopted, the transformation is mostly being run through specific programs, with the obvious front-runner being Automation. In both cases the natural progression observed has been from Digitisation, to digital optimization to digital business.

 

A key driver for lot of consumer products and services organisations, like financial services, besides sustainable future ready business footprint, is customer experience. It is evident that experience is no longer just a differentiator but something that defines the business itself and is disrupting business models and created impending risk for the traditional organisations.

 

One of the valuable lessons we have learnt through deep engagement cycle for digital transformation programs is that creating Frameworks around key variables is critical to improve predictability of success. With no clear paths available these frameworks act as guidance maps for enabling right future outcomes and right-sizing of goals from the outset.

 

For example, our Data science lab, advises clients to ensure a day zero data governance and data repository framework. As the use cases for analytics change the fundamentals around data will not, and framework for the same protects client interest in the long term. Further, Most Independent studies predict that almost 90% of organisations will be moving to hybrid cloud infrastructure by 2020. So this affects the fundamental’s of any frameworks will build and design for our clients as we have a lesser risk of adoption. With the data logistics managed upfront, an organisations ability to mature any machine learning or artificial intelligence based decision analytics has a higher success ratio. With the fundamental premise of the framework in place, future agile adoption of technologies and use cases is possible and helps.

 

Another good example for creating predictable outcomes through robust frameworks is observed by us in banking. Globally ‘Open banking’ norms are being adopted and this is not restricted to compliance but also better business practices where the underlying customer adoption cycle is being shifted to a more on demand distributed architecture where banks and financial services organisations will have to serve the outcomes there clients desire at there convenience of platforms. In india we already have a multitude of partnerships between licensed banks and ecommerce players like amazon, flipkart etc and also social platforms like whatsapp and facebook to seamlessly integrate a customer acquisition journey’s. In fact the reverse is also happening where the born digital platforms are taking a bite into the traditional banking transactions through micro-lending and digital wallet platforms they have setup. Amazon has applied for Insurance license and flipkart is predicting there lending products platform will account for 20% of there business.

 

Adopting a more holistic approach by investing in broader programs to re-invent, re-engineer and re-imagine business processes using the most appropriate technology adoption curve for business success is the best case scenario for any organisation.

 

PREPARING FOR BORN DIGITAL FUTURE

 

 

 

Improving Quality of life is a value each of one us carries, and Digital technologies are one, if not the most fundamental drivers of this change in current era. Our team at QualityKiosk has for the past two decades prioritised efforts to enable Digital Quality Engineering, as we pave way for a Born Digital Future.

 

Whether we are buying a home, a car, a mobile or food, one thing we expect in every interaction is Quality and Digital apps are no different. How do you maintain Quality of Experience on Digital Apps which need to work Anytime, Anywhere and on Any device in a fast paced world? An average user spends 4 hours per day on various Digital Apps, it is the job of Quality Engineering teams to see that those 4 hours go glitch free.

 

Further as the touch points expand, digital is no longer just another channel, but becomes the platform around which online and offline world’s converge for a user to create a Omni-channel experience. This is the stage at which the rise of the ‘Born Digital entities’ takes place. It is predicated that in the future there will be a ‘Digital twin’ – a virtual replica of the physical entities including people, organisations, places etc that will seamlessly interface across the divide of real and the ‘digital reality’. You are already experiencing some aspects of this through Virtual Reality and digital assistants.

 

To manage a Born Digital entity we need a Digital Workforce. A workforce where Human associates and software robot associates work together. We at QualityKiosk have been pioneering the use of Robotic Automation and Artificial Intelligence to deliver Digital Quality Engineering at Speed, Scale and Securely.

 

There is little bit of QualityKiosk in your everyday life. Whether you are booking a flight, paying for your coffee through a digital wallet, or simply connecting with your friends through social channels, we have 1500+ Human and Software Robot associates who work in the background to enable this digital life that we are experiencing. Our clients are our partners in delivering this transformation.

 

We are excited to work with our partners across the globe on Digital Transformation projects including using our Data Science Lab for performance, automation and Quality engineering practices. In the Indian context while agile approaches are being adopted, the transformation is mostly being run through specific programs, with the front-runner being Intelligent Business Automation.

 

SHIFT LEFT WITH SERVICE VIRTUALIZATION

06 September, 2017

In the world full of technological changes and disruption, speed to market is crucial for companies. Today, service virtualization is a buzz word because it enables QA and development teams faster and easy access to desirable test environment anywhere and anytime. Implementing service virtualization removes the need of setting the environment, enabling teams to deliver quality product on time.

Service virtualization’s capability to shift left the testing process is widely acknowledged in the software testing industry. With a simulated test environment, you can eliminate constraints delaying the testing of crucial aspects, thereby ensuring early testing. It definitely yields significant benefits in the form of accelerating the time to market, reducing the risk and curbing down the cost associated with setting up the testing environment.

SO, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘SHIFT LEFT’?

Shift left testing is nothing, but the integration of testing activities with development, commencing sooner in the SDLC, unlike the traditional testing methods. You simply move left to the left in the project lifecycle. The aim of service virtualization is to compress the defect curve and deliver quality products to the end-users.

Here are a few reasons why shift left with service virtualization will create ripples and will bring about a landmark change in the testing and development procedure.

REDUCTION IN THE COST OF TESTING AND DEVELOPMENT

Bugs and errors are cheaper when caught young. The older they grow, the more and money they consume. When testing is done with every build, detecting errors is simple and the bugs found are smaller and easier to tackle with. It eliminates the tremendous cost and unnecessary hard-work to re-doing things again and again. According to a survey, companies implementing service virtualization have witnessed a 67% reduction in the overall cost.

PROVIDES A COMPETITIVE EDGE

‘Shift Left’ will give your team competitive edge by speeding up the time to market. It rightfully accelerates the entire SDLC by increasing the speed of development without compromising on the quality. Furthermore, service virtualization allows studying of behavior of connected components in a demo environment, instead of the live one, thereby saving a lot of time. With the rising competition rushing the product out of the door is key to entice the end-users.

INCREASED LEVEL OF AUTOMATION

With ‘shift left’ you can easily increase the level of automation, which will reduce the potential human errors and increase the test coverage by running more test cases at the same time. Furthermore, it will curb the issues resulting due to issues during the production. It will increase the scope of automated testing because testers do not have wait for the configuration.

ENHANCES EFFICIENCY

Shift left with service virtualization enables monitoring the performance over time, focus on code quality check, frees up time for testers to focus on more challenging and rewarding task. Furthermore, with service virtualization, you can focus on built-in security checks.

REDUCTION IN THE BURDEN DEVELOPERS

With the virtual assets available allows the developers to test their own data set to use. It empowers the developers to perform better and more comprehensive task before releasing the software to the test environment.

The biggest advantage of using service virtualization is the reduction in time to complete one test cycle – from five to six weeks to 2-3 days.

FUTURE OF SERVICE VIRTUALIZATION

With digital and instant gratification on a rise, the new mantra for IT companies is providing flexible and scalable solutions. In traditional testing, once the components were deployed, future testing was impossible. This was especially true for XML, HTML pages and database components. Storing duplicate copies of the deployed components is a costly affair. Virtualization will help you overcome these roadblocks and will facilitate testing along with project management.

Shift left is more than a process change – it will bring a cultural shift in the testing methodologies.