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Mixed realities becoming a reality for banks in 2019

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We believe Mixed Reality (MR) – a blend of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) – will emerge as a popular human-machine interface technology in the near future. Integrating real-world things and virtual objects, MR will enable incredible immersive experiences to users who will switch seamlessly between VR and AR scenarios. What trends do we see in 2019 and how can banks leverage them?

The first trend is that devices from the key players in this space – Google, Apple and Microsoft to name a few – will include AR features in their hardware by default. With these companies investing big in AR and VR, mixed reality will hit the mainstream quickly. In a few years, a small but significant proportion of early adopters will even offer 3D interaction interfaces, making the tablet passé. These evolved devices will introduce a rich visual element to the current text and voice-dominated interactions with chatbots and virtual assistants, to radically transform engagement. Today when you pass by some of your favorite stores and brands, you see holograms of personalized propositions displayed onto your real-world surroundings. Someday soon the technology will find application in visually interactive chatbots.

However, at present, mixed reality use cases are in a nascent stage. Enterprises, including banks, are making a slow start with a few pilot projects which usually include AR apps that help customers with information about the nearest banks, ATMs, shops or restaurants. Hence heading into 2019, every business with a play in AR, VR or MR, will qualify as an early adopter.

But watch out for new use cases in the coming twelve months. In banking, these will primarily be about enabling immersive customer experiences. Banks will have virtual branches where customers can transact using smart devices.

A blend of AR and VR technologies will create avatar assistants that use icons and characters to represent real-life bank executives in a mobile app or other virtual space. The mobile app itself will be augmented with MR so that customers can take pictures of real-world objects (apartments, cars, restaurants, etc.) to have useful financial messages (cost of property, insurance premium, promotional offers) pop up on their screens.

Payments will turn virtual, to enable the required financial transactions in purchase and consumption experiences that are purely virtual.

Even security will benefit by using mixed reality to authorize and authenticate users. A mobile app can potentially be configured to use a smartphone’s dual cameras for creating a 3D image of physical objects, which can then work as a factor of authentication. With open banking gathering momentum, expect to see third-party providers of AR, VR and MR solutions join the open economy with innovative applications to spread financial inclusion, education and awareness.

How can banks capitalize on these trends in 2019?

We recommend that banks scout for partnership opportunities to accelerate the adoption of mixed reality. Apart from specialist FinTechs, banks will also consider partnering with technology giants such as GAFA in the next two to three years for innovation in immersive solutions.

In 2019, customer experience and not technology will be the prime consideration in mixed reality pilot projects at banks. A major challenge that must be addressed at the outset is the lack of good user experience design. There is no point creating a glitzy virtual branch if it comes with an inconvenient wearable device that no one will use. User experience needs to be rid of friction and as far as possible integrated with the existing lifestyle and devices of consumers. Quality of customer experience is possibly the most critical factor in the success of mixed reality. Banks will need to look at every aspect of their MR projects through the lens of customer experience for success in the long-term.

“I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.”
– Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Inc.

 Banking Trends 2019

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