Imagine walking into your favourite clothes shop and, as you do so, a simple screen, which only you can see, appears inside your peripheral vision. As you step across the shop’s threshold, several options pop up onscreen. These vary from the shop’s new clothing range, items on sale and your bank balance. While browsing the clothes rack, you spot an item you like. You wink to access your online bank account and check your current account balance. This allows you to instantly decide whether you can afford the item, or wait until next month.
This isn’t some Minority-Report-style look at the future – it’s a snapshot of how we may interact with our banks within 12 months. The groundbreaking wearable technology, Google Glass – a computer integrated into a pair of spectacles – promises to redefine our relationship with the digital world. Using touch controls and voice recognition, it will allow users to capture photos and videos, view emails, use apps and surf the web on the move. It marks a fundamental shift towards a more digitally connected future, and it has big implications for financial service providers.
New research by ieDigital reveals that 16% of British consumers are already interested in using Google Glass to manage their finances, without even seeing or testing a working prototype. This figure rises to 26% for 18-to-24-year-olds, which means once the technology is available to buy, banks will need to ensure they have a clear idea of how to extend their digital banking software to include wearable technology.
We’re already seeing an increase in multi-channel banking with mobile banking apps for smartphones and tablets, alongside online web browser banking. The challenge for the financial services industry will be to ensure the experience between all platforms, from web browser to smart TV and Google Glass, is seamless.
Of course, security will be a big issue. A debate that still rages among mainstream commentators focuses on the security and privacy implications of Google Glass. Similarly, financial sector firms will need to consider how privacy of financial transactions can be maintained if they’re taking place on a wearable technology platform, and on the move.
Providers will need to have a sophisticated security system in place that works across all banking platforms, and can deal with the potential vulnerabilities presented by Google Glass. However, what’s clear is that it (and the products it will inevitably inspire) will open up a new and thrilling world for digital banking. I can’t wait to own the UK’s first pair and explore the possibilities for financial institutions and their customers.