Goldman Sachs Group believes that virtual and augmented reality will make up an $80 billion market by 2025. Until then, we will be seeing steady adoption as the technology evolves and gives birth to a new market of business and consumer applications.
Furthermore, in the case of an accelerated uptake, the market will hit as much as $182 billion, says Goldman. Considering that enormous potential, banks and financial institutions are among the first to test VR/AR technology and see how they can benefit from it. Now let’s look at some of the opportunities in detail.
Tech-savvy millennials are the core of banking consumers and staff, and this core is eroding. According to the Millennial Disruption Index, 73% of surveyed millennials are looking to new offerings from Google, PayPal or Apple rather than from their local banks, whereas 33% say they won’t need a bank at all in the near future.
With their penchant for new technologies and video games, as well as little tolerance for unexciting and complicated content, millennials have a hard time engaging with traditional brick-and-mortar banking activities. So why not immerse this new generation of customers and workers in a more familiar environment, transforming financial data into a visual, engaging experience?
Finance and trading have evolved to an extent that makes figures and columns indigestible not only for millennials but for most humans, including trained professionals. Imagine simultaneously viewing thousands of derivatives coupled with historical and predictive data on a 2D screen – nearly impossible, right? With a headset on, you can embrace these data sets all at once, zooming out to see high-level patterns and zooming in for a closer look. Now you may be wondering if there are real-world examples of this technology in use.
Citibank traders have been testing Microsoft HoloLens as a virtual workstation that combines 2D and 3D to complement the bank’s existing devices and workflows, including proprietary trading software, news terminals, and more. With a colorful bubble-map of the market in front of them, traders can detect holistic patterns in the trading environment at a glance. This augmented setting addresses traders’ most painful experiences such as navigating through windows and tabs, prioritizing data, recognizing critical market changes, and collaborating with clients.
Fidelity Investments have come up with StockCity for Oculus Rift, a tool that applies virtual reality and data visualization to help investors manage their finances. It turns a portfolio into a virtual city where each stock is a building with the height and footprint representing the price, trading volume and outstanding shares.
This way, Fidelity tries to connect with younger generations. “If you want to deliver a great customer experience, you have to be in the same kinds of environments where they are,” says Seth Brooks, Director of Product Management at Fidelity Labs.
Financial education has the potential to become one of the main applications of VR/AR. Think of the educational value of animated, game-like content versus a book. When studying something like risk management, the technology seems to be truly disruptive.
Sebastian J. Kuhnert, Founder and CEO of Tradimo Interactive, an online trading school, puts it this way:
If we can design one ultimate immersive educational experience, mankind can afford to invest as much as tens of thousands of individual “teacher years” into it, because it has the potential to replace the majority of these other classroom experiences where millions of teachers deliver essentially the same education in a million slight variations from each other.
VR can also be used by banks and financial organizations as a recruitment and internal training tool. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has built a VR application to attract technical talent by showing them through Google cardboard goggles how innovative and agile the bank is in addressing customer and employee needs. In this virtual journey, users are invited to join a project team creating an app for one of the bank’s business customers.
EON Reality, a 3D software provider, has taken recruitment a step further with a virtual job interview simulator, where real candidates face several avatars controlled by a single, real recruiter or department representative. Here, in an immersive environment, everything seems real – the life-size and multi-dimensional jury ask questions based on the candidates’ answers. This way, there is no need to mobilize many people in the panel as a single operator can control all the reactions.
Several banks have created AR apps to help consumers find the nearest branches and ATMs. While navigating through the city and looking at their phone screen, a user can see real-time information on the nearing location, including the distance and additional details, and book an appointment.
In the same way, banks such as Halifax and Australia’s Commonwealth Bank leverage real estate data in their apps that enable potential home buyers to view detailed profiles of properties for sale as they pass them in the street. A user might find an app like this even more engaging if it provides a mortgage calculator or shows a 3D overlay of the interior in a virtual environment.
For consumers who can’t visit their branch due to traveling or simply need more privacy, virtual banking will come in handy. Picture an avatar controlled by your personal banker being able to present advice, offers and complex financial data in a single, visualized setting.
Emerging innovative banks can introduce VR banking instead of building traditional brick-and-mortar branches, thus saving time and capital while providing consumers with the same banking experience.
The technology brings in cost saving for traditional banks as well. With VR in place, they can cut down on traveling for meetings and training, as employees will be able to share insights virtually everywhere and in a life-like way.
Though now all this might seem a little far-fetched, it is clear that the ability to merge the virtual and physical realities will transform banking and finance. As the technology matures, financial institutions should be ahead of the curve, carefully analyzing their processes for areas where immersive experiences can improve customer relations and sales.