Dr Andy Piper, CTO of Push Technology gives his 10 tips when developing or improving mobile or web applications for banking services

You might already have a mobile or web application for your financial organisation or you might be starting from scratch. Either way, once in the mobile and web application game you are constantly in a battle for improvement. With internet and mobile banking now being used for transactions worth £6.4 billion a week – up from £5.8 billion last year, according to BBA, you need to make sure you remember some do’s and don’ts of application development. Whether you are part of the development team or responsible for the end-user experience, these tips will help you when developing or improving your mobile application.

1. Do support real-time experiences.
Modern apps require access to real-time events from backend services. Take advantage of the volume of data generated and respond to end users in near real-time by providing an integrated streaming data distribution server. Incorporate data distribution technologies within your app development cycle that intelligently assess data to only send the most up-to-date information instantly.

2. Do ensure your app is highly responsive.
When your end-user does something with your app, you want to respond, immediately and certainly not longer than four seconds. Delivering an exceptional user experience is all about interactivity and responsiveness of the app, the timeliness and relevance of the data it presents and the cost of the running the app. Provide a development platform that enables you to build apps that can cope with speed, engagement and relevance of data.

3. Do incorporate security measures for apps.
For banking apps, with end-users accessing sensitive information on their own personal device, you will want to ensure that all network traffic between the app and the server is encrypted and includes user authentication and authorisation for access to sensitive information.

The app world has the same vulnerabilities as the desktop world. Plan to include application verification to prevent Trojan horse applications from accessing services maliciously.

4. Don’t develop for one device and platform at a time.
Use a development environment that allows developers to write an app once and deploy anywhere, whether for the browser, a hybrid mobile application or native applications for iOS, Android or Windows. Ensure that your development environment supports all push notification methods. This should include Apple iOS (APNS – Apple Push Notification Service), Android (GCM – Google Cloud Messaging), Windows notifications and even SMS.

5. Don’t assume network pressures and constraints will be blamed on the mobile operator.
It doesn’t matter if it is a network issue, if an end-user is trying to use your app and the connectivity is intermittent, you are to blame. Deliver users quality of service by ensuring that if connections are lost you are picking up exactly where the session left off upon reconnection. This capability should be incorporated into the development lifecycle so that data distributed is cached close to the end user ready for delivery. Just as important is not wasting bandwidth or infrastructure on this; you should efficiently send only the most up-to-date changed data.

6. Don’t develop an app that cannot make use of device features.
Ensure you are developing with all of the latest client device SDKs, so you can build apps that make use of device features such as GPS to enable functionality based on location to push out specific notifications. Without this functionality, you might as well just create a mobile website.

7. Don’t ignore the insights you can gain from mobile customers.
BBA reports that internet banking services typically receive 7 million log-ins a day, so it’s good to understand what your users or customers are doing with your application. Make use of comprehensive analytics to allow you to see how an application is used, what type of device it’s running on, where it is being run and what the common usage flows are through the application. All of this information should be fed back to the developers to further streamline the application for usability lending itself to better retention of users and improving revenue-generating opportunities.

8. Don’t use templates that dictate your look and feel.
You want to create a continuous brand experience whether in person, online or via your app. You should therefore look to replicate your brand on your app and should avoid using development frameworks and templates that dictate your look and feel of the user interface and the flow of the user experience. Instead, use a development environment built on top of open, standards-based technology such as Eclipse and Apache Cordova. Also, make sure it is flexible enough to allow the development team freedom to design for a high quality experience.

9. Don’t make the development environment too complex.
You want your development team focused on competitive advantages so make sure you select a development platform that is easy to use. This can include capabilities such as a drag and drop development interface based on the industry standard Eclipse IDE, coupled with a large built-in library of common UI elements. This allows impressive UIs to be built easily.

10. Do work hard to deliver quality.
The mobile app market explosion is a challenge as organisations seek to deliver the best possible mobile experiences or risk losing customers.

It is therefore imperative that financial services organisations are able to support customers with apps that deliver usable and smarter content to support this channel. The functionality of the app is pivotal. When an app crashes, it disrupts the user experience, may cause data loss, and worst of all, might even cause users to uninstall the app altogether. Capturing the market opportunity relies on technology that does not use traditional Web messaging capabilities, but instead supports a way of pushing only the data that is required, fast and to any app – not just iOS.

Dr Andy Piper, Chief Technology Officer at Push Technology

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