RBS was the only “big-4” bank ready to register Apple Pay at launch

By meeting an aggressive and fixed delivery deadline, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), including its NatWest and Ulster Bank brands, enjoyed a significant reputational advantage by being amongst the first to allow its customers to register their accounts and use Apple Pay to pay for goods and services. The vast majority of competing UK high street banks were unable to offer this service at launch.

The engagement saw BJSS manage the testing and integration of Apple Pay across RBS including its Natwest and Ulster Bank brands, and across the operationally separate credit and debit portfolios.

This was a technically challenging project which was made even more complex by strict non-disclosure agreements, a heterogeneous mix of systems, the need to covertly test in the marketplace, and limited projections of usage estimates.

Apple goes to great lengths to maintain the secrecy of its product development. This meant that the bulk of development and testing activities with partner banks needed to take place before Apple’s global WWDC event even took place. With an aggressive timetable, driven by the rapidly approaching date of the WWDC, in addition to direct competition from other banks aiming to launch their own services, our team found itself part of a very high-pressure delivery environment.

The secrecy around this project led to the team having to adopt unconventional test techniques. While testing in confidential conditions is commonplace in highly-competitive environments, the unparalleled secrecy of this project was further constrained by a strict Non-Disclosure Agreements. And while a great deal of testing took place in a simulated retail environment, crucial field testing took place discreetly at high-traffic ‘in and out’ stores such as Pret A Manger, McDonalds and Itsu, giving merchants the impression that routine payments were occurring with regular contactless payment cards.

This was a multi-organisation, group-wide project that cut across many of RBS’ technology and business divisions, in addition to Apple’s systems and external payment processing partners

The project impacted many distributed systems across several different organisations and the aggressive deadline added to this complexity. There was also an integration requirement with the bank’s existing and complex payment infrastructure. To mitigate this, and as advocated by the Enterprise Agile approach, the team tackled the RBS Group’s individual components first, ensuring that they were fully-integrated and properly tested. The team then developed their own stubs so that services and data from third-party systems could be mocked-up and simulated.

Systematic testing (traced to requirements) was augmented by innovative exploratory testing. This was executed during the Live Proving phase and it elaborated functionality and requirements that were previously unknown to the business. The team also became heavily involved in feeding updated requirements back into the RBS business by attending internal business meetings and ensuring their understanding fully aligned with Apple’s. In turn, the team also fed RBS requirements back to Apple.

There was an internal RBS business desire to have the project’s complexities and challenges regularly reported. To support this, the team collaboratively developed and maintained a well-structured reporting pack. Over time this extended to business optimisation decisions including refining limits on various rule engines and defining the rules around lifecycle management of Apple Pay digital cards.

With Apple Pay effectively acting as a contactless payment channel, there were comprehensive fraud detection & prevention and regulatory formalities to test. The fraud profiling work was extensive, involving multiple external systems and the internal RBS fraud ecosystem. The team supported regulatory testing around the bank’s fraud rules in order to ensure they were being correctly applied. This meant that the team needed to be adaptive to the dynamic changes made to the rules, often setting up specific scenarios in the real world to simulate the fraudulent activity and trigger the fraud and regulatory rules. Based on their experience of testing this important aspect of the product, the team was able to suggest changes and enhancements to profiling rules.

RBS successfully achieved its desire to offer Apple Pay on the day of launch

As the only “big four” bank able to register its customers to the service, RBS enjoyed a first-mover advantage.

The project was delivered by an agile ‘Lean Team’ of four BJSS testing and QA professionals, which by their collaborative and multi-functional expertise, were able to adapt and take on different roles throughout the project to cover all testing areas. In spite of an aggressive delivery deadline, and the secrecy attached to the project, we successfully delivered a wide ranging, complex solution which involved close collaboration, five separate organisations and several technology platforms.

The success of the project saw the BJSS team continuing to support RBS with other mobile testing services and we continue to work on other innovative payment frameworks within the RBS Group in the UK.