Mobile Applications

Abra Goes Global, Leverages Crowdtesting

For technology startups looking to expand their reach, crowdtesting has become a key resource to ensure operability on the global market.

FinTech Abra, for instance, looks to change the way people around the world send and receive money. Founded in 2014, Abra now supports more than 50 currencies to help users move money virtually anywhere.

Many of the world’s unbanked and underbanked cash holders today rely on informal networks to transact in and transfer funds, said George Chlentzos, Abra’s director of engineering. Abra helps bring these users into the global financial marketplace through a growing network of tellers where users can easily deposit and withdraw cash.

“If you look at global consumer transactions, 85 percent are still cash-based,” said Chlentzos. “If you really want to have a global solution with a global reach, you need to be cash-based too.”

Users can transfer funds in-app in more than 50 fiat currencies, as well as in digital currency bitcoin, to anyone on Abra anywhere in the world. The goal is to have the process be as easy as sending a text message.

“If you have your smartphone, you have your funds,” Chlentzos said. “One big thing that’s got us particularly excited is that we’re expanding the use of bitcoin beyond its core set of users. You can send and receive bitcoin to people who don’t even know what bitcoin is — for them, they’ll be transacting in their own currency.”

But creating a mobile-native global network comes with a broad set of challenges, especially when it comes time to ensure that the application runs smoothly across devices.

“There are very different performance and display characteristics all over the world, with devices that are manufactured locally or simply unavailable to us,” said Chlentzos. “You also have the different OS versions and the influence of different carrier-installed apps.”

The enormous diversity of devices and operating systems available across the globe is extremely difficult for internal testing teams to reproduce.

The challenge isn’t unique to Abra, Chlentzos noted. Any Android application with international or global reach in mind will run up against this. Even traditional testing companies with access to phone farms still don’t cover the full breadth of global devices the startup’s target markets would use.

Abra leverages crowdtesting enabler Applause to test software functionality and updates as they roll out. The software testing, usability and marketing research solution provider enables local testing on local devices in 200 countries and territories worldwide. While many major companies rely on crowdtesting for global tech, Chlentzos noted that the benefits of crowdtesting may be even greater for small technology startups.

“It provides us with real-world, international testing capabilities that would normally be out of our reach,” he said, noting Abra likely wouldn’t have the resources to do it otherwise.

But crowdtesting has been instrumental for Abra, playing a key role in a pilot test the startup ran in the Philippines prior to its global expansion. Beyond pre-release testing, leveraging Applause allowed Abra to address issues raised by users after going live with the app or an update in a local market.

“Local environments with local devices are our reality check. Say there’s a certain subset of devices we’re concerned about because we’ve received feedback from our users,” Chlentzos said. “Applause canvases testers to find those devices for us. As we expand, we’ll be able to do that in more countries.”

Applause’s systems are integrated with Abra’s, noted Chlentzos, including their preexisting bug tracking and internal chat software. Abra draws on Applause’s test managers with a knowledge of Abra’s products to answer technical and procedural questions for locals.

Moving forward, Abra wants to keep learning from their users and improving the functionality of its application. Chlentzos said that Abra will continue to leverage Applause as a crowdtesting resource as it expands its services on the global market.

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