Bloaty banking app? There's a good chance it was written in Britain

No wonder they're constantly going TITSUP

App developers in the UK banking sector are lagging behind their European and US counterparts in tools and methodologies, according to a new study based on code reviews.

According to the survey, most British banking apps are developed using three old-school technology stacks including COBOL and Oracle Server. European apps, by contrast, use approximately 17, while eight are in use in the US, which uses a wider range of technologies.

The study, by software risk prevention and analysis outfit CAST, further concluded that the global leader in UK coders need more code than their European and US equivalents for financial apps. The average lines of code (LOC) for both US and Europe is under 440 KLOC (thousand lines of code), compared to over a million LOC for the UK.

CAST’s study (PDF) is based on the code submissions of 53 financial sector organisations from 13 different countries, spanning consumer finance and investment banks.

The financial sector-specific CRASH (CAST Research on Application Software Health) report is involved analysing 241 MLOC (241 million lines of code), across the 430 enterprise applications in the anonymous CRASH database.

The report also noted that "Organizations from the United Kingdom deliver applications at the highest risk (lowest security scores)" and said that smaller teams tended to deliver more secure apps.

The research involved an analysis of the structural code quality of five core characteristics, or “health factors”1 (robustness, security, efficiency, transferability, and changeability) to benchmark the application software performance of various financial sector firms. The UK falls short compared to with their counterparts in Europe and the US on security best practices, with one in four (25 per cent) of the worst overall offenders based in Britain, according to CAST.

CAST argues that its findings highlight the potential reasons UK banks continually suffer outages and failures, performing much worse than their foreign counterparts. Code quality may be one of the factors in play here but networking issues, the reliability of power supplies, server reliability and other issues also play a part.

Lev Lesokhin, executive vice president of strategy and analytics at CAST, commented: “This CRASH report has highlighted the apparent need for the UK Financial Sector to modernise and improve its application software performance. With UK banks falling worryingly short in robustness and security capabilities, a considerable concern for the sector in the modern age, application developers need to up their game to rival European and US organisations. Doing so will ensure high quality of the software produced in the UK, which in turn will reduce the amount of damaging outages the banks suffer and help deliver a greater service to their business-critical customers.” ®


1 These health factors are defined as qualities of engineering soundness of IT software in terms of its architecture and code. The report defines quality as how well code is written - recording and measures violations based on standard industry practices. These flaws are the defects most likely to cause operational problems such as outages, performance degradation, unauthorised access, or data corruption.

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