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According to PwC, the accelerating pace of technological change is the most creative and destructive force in the financial services ecosystem today. With fintech now valued at around £20bn, it's become one of UK's fastest growing industries. As new challenger banks catch up with mainstream rivals, this trend will only heighten.

Regulation, on the other hand, is changing nearly as fast. All the way back from Y2K, to Brexit and the credit card fee ban, financial services providers have had to change and adapt their software.

To stay afloat, companies are feeling forced to accelerate their software releases to keep up to date with the competition and make their software compliant and secure to operate. Timelines are changing from what were previously months, to now weeks or even days.

As a result, automated testing has become key to stay apace. Here's why and how you should be using it.

It gives developers time to focus on innovation

With so much disruption, the main thing financial services companies need to focus on is creating the best product available to stand out from the crowd. At present, software developers spend around 20% of their time testing.

If this task was outsourced to automated testing services, developers would have more time to create more innovative software, which in turn should help companies achieve better results in the long run.

It keeps customers happy

Once upon a time, the market only had a few competitors, which meant speed wasn't a 'must' of consumer experience, rather, the quality of the services was more so. The landscape has changed now.

With the rise of challengers, the ability to innovate fast has become a key determinant to safeguard your business. Customers want to make sure they're getting their money's worth and that in addition to the best quality they are also getting the latest software updates. If they don't get this, they can easily move to a rival company. This in turn, is forcing software developers to work at hyperspeed.

Consider the millions of lines developers have to test every time they make a change - it's just not viable for them to test manually. The solution? Automated testing. By outsourcing the burden of regression testing, manual testers are freed up to focus on exploratory testing, providing a better product and user experience.

It keeps their data safe

Financial applications hold particularly sensitive information due to the nature of the industry. They have access to consumer information ranging from names, home addresses and banking details, all of which would be incredibly detrimental to business if they fell in the wrong hands.

Remember Lloyds' massive cybercrime attack earlier this year? In case you don't, 20 million bank accounts were targeted. Luckily, none of the accounts were accessed — likely because of the security in place — but imagine if any of their testers had missed a glitch in the system? Game over.

Automated testing can reduce the burden on programmers, and means that businesses have to worry less about the safety of customers. There's less risk of missing something that could leave an opening for those attempting cybercrime.

The testing can also be set up so that it adheres to all the security standards across networks, platforms, and OS. Think about times when this could have helped in the past. Y2K would have been over in minutes!

It helps companies keep up with the times

The financial services industry moves fast, and it's affected by current affairs at every turn - over the next few years, elements like Brexit and EU regulations are due to change many of the current structures in place. Only this September, the UK government told the industry that it's highly likely EU regulations will be abandoned post Brexit in finance, leading to many deep-seated changes.

Moreover, due to changing regulations, the financial services companies must also constantly work on compliance. A 2015 PwC report showed that 77% of financial institutions planned to expand their compliance within the next two years. Manual testers can implement these changes, but again, this is a gruelling process that involves hours of their time and effort that could be better spent elsewhere.

Once automated testing software is taught what needs to be changed, financial services companies can put a solution to this problem quickly and effectively.

Modern automated testing tools can provide testers with the extra time to innovate, leading to a better, stronger and more creative financial services company. The tools don't just run tests that were written by a human, they can write test scenarios themselves. What's more, they can also help improve customer experience and overcome critical issues such as compliance and security.

Some people might currently be indifferent to automated testing, but trust me, it is set to change the financial services scene (and that of many other industries!). It will finally give providers the tools they need to keep up with this fast-paced world we live in.

So, what are you waiting for?

Daniel Kroening is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and founder of AI company Diffblue