The QA Financial expert interview: Maksim Evdokimov, Tinkoff Bank

Maksim Evdokimov (pictured), Head of Mobile, talks about the projects he is working on, how automation improves quality, the downsides of outsourcing, and cloud testing.

Maksim talks to us about modile app development at Tinkoff Bank

Maksim Evdokimov, Tinkoff Bank.

Maksim Evdokimov is the vice president of mobile services at Tinkoff Bank, which was launched ten years ago as Russia’s first digital bank. Based on the model of Capital One in the US, Tinkoff now claims more than five million customers and offers a range of financial products including cards, current accounts, and e-wallets. Evdokimov joined the bank in May 2013 after previously working for a telecommunications provider.

What mobile apps is Tinkoff developing right now?

In May we released a financial marketplace app. We’re still launching functionalities, and soon you will be able to find a wide range of financial products: insurance, mortgages, peer to peer lending, credit cards, and so on. It’s called the Tinkoff Platform and it is not only for Tinkoff products – customers will also be able to access services provided by our partner banks.

The end result will be a sales channel for a wide range of finance products that lets you do on your smartphone anything you can do on a desktop.

We also have a range of stand-alone apps that are available for the public at large. Our most popular app is the Traffic Fines app. It is a service that checks if you have any speeding violations. If you do, you get a push notification and you can pay with your card. It’s been downloaded four million times.

How do you assure the quality of your apps?

Most features go through comprehensive automated testing. The first time around, when a new feature is developed, testing is performed manually, but we do our best to make it automatic for the next release. Having said that, it does depend on the resourcing. It takes a lot of effort to write these automatic tests, so there’s a balance between prioritising developer time for manual testing, versus working on automated testing mechanics. If we are testing a big release we will always make sure we have regression and smoke testing in place.

Core app development and testing are done in-house, with as little outsourcing as possible.

Why not outsource?

Keeping things in-house ensures that the ideas, technologies and methods we use are consistent in the long run. The truth is that no subcontractor understands our customers like we do.

It’s also about quality. When you are working with your own developers you can foster innovation within the team. Outsourcing creates intermediaries. There is always a manager between you and the development team, the person whose job it is to relay tasks from the business owner to the developers. When you do it internally, as a business owner, you are always in contact with the team lead. I can go to his desk and tell him what I want to get out of the product. We can have a cup of coffee and talk about the app’s UI, animations and functionalities. I think that to make a high-quality product you need to foster a culture of engagement.

What are the challenges in testing mobile apps?

It is crucial to have the right smartphones available for testing. As soon as a new model appears you need to have it in your test department, and unfortunately almost every different smartphone behaves in a different way. It’s impossible to know how they will react to your app. You can get feedback from your customers – customers are actually quite patient, but you do need to have the model to get a feel for how your app works on it, and that means you cannot just rely only on customers.

Is mobile cloud testing a solution?

We’ve tried testing mobile apps on the cloud, but that only covers UI issues. You can’t test interactions at the back-end. For that you need to have a dedicated test area. We upload the latest version of the back-end and then we play with new features and see how it affects the API and if any errors come up. It might be a mistake on the front-end that sends the wrong data to the back-end. The point is we cannot outsource our back-end infrastructure which is where the most crucial interactions take place. Testing UI covers only 5% of our needs and we can do that by ourselves, which is why we don’t use cloud testing.

What we do use are test groups. Apple has a special store called TestFlight. It lets you upload an app for a closed test group that is only available to a select group of people. We use it to get feedback from members of the test group, these could be journalists, employees, sometimes even competitors. Android also has a similar feature.

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