Tuesday, 28 April 2015

How wearables could revolutionise online banking

Wearables have, until recently, been associated mainly with getting in shape: pedometers, calorie counters, and other methods to help you monitor your health.

Wearable fitness band (image courtesy of Griffin Technology via Flickr)

But in recent years, this area of technology has seen major developments not only in terms of personal fitness goals, but as a practical addition to the modern lifestyle. They are no longer simple wristbands or tiny devices to clip on your clothing: in essence, wearables are shaping up to be the next step up from a smartphone, but we’re going to expect them to go beyond smartphone functions.

The rise of the smartwatch
According to the Wearables Report, the global wearables market will increase at a compound annual rate of 35% over the next five years. And it should come as no surprise that the smartwatch will be the leading product category, thanks to the Apple Watch. 

The Apple Watch (image courtesy of Ryan Ozawa via Flickr)

However, even with this steady expansion within the market and all the hype surrounding the Watch’s release, there are mixed feelings about wearables: while 40% of consumers surveyed in the UK want to buy a smartwatch, 35% said they would feel embarrassed or self-conscious about wearing one. In order to overcome these reservations, wearable tech needs to significantly improve the quality of life of the wearer.

Wearables could change our way of life
With this whole mobile revolution, one of the key features that’s being marketed is its convenience: everything you’d normally head to a computer or laptop to do, you can easily complete on your smartphone with a few simple taps. And in the case of wearable technology, everything you need is already strapped on to your body. As Otabek Saydikaharov, Business Analyst with Misys Financial Software, says in a recent article: ‘For wearables to be adopted, they should deliver a value proposition which mobiles cannot.’ Smartwatches, wristbands and other wearables eliminate the customer’s irritation with having to dig for their phone in their bag or pocket, and provide a smooth transition to productivity.

Banking revolutionised
Mobile banking should be preparing to take advantage of this wearable craze, as it could enhance the user experience and strengthen ties with customers. Surveys have shown that consumers are checking their accounts via mobile banking with increasing regularity, and wearable banking could make this even easier.

Wearables also have the power to reverse the common that mobile banking is less safe than internet banking: with Halifax trialling technology that uses the heart beat as an identification device, wearable banking could actually be the safest option of all. 

Card machine with Google Wallet capabilities (image courtesy of denebola2025 via Flickr)

Another feature of wearables that banks could capitalise on is easy payments – the ability to purchase using only your mobile device. With Apple Pay, Google Wallet and soon-to-come Samsung Pay, customers can make contactless, hassle-free payments with a simple wave of their smartwatch, enabling a seamless, quick shopping experience.

Better relations, better results
Wearables are poised to completely change the mobile banking game, if banks wise up and invest in the proper technology. We might even see an improvement in customer relations if they use the mobility as an asset: for example, Oscar Health Insurance paired up with wearable fitness device company Misfit to reward healthy customers with gift vouchers. If banks adopted a similar technique, general attitudes toward their company will improve.

Whether you like them or not, wearables are here to stay. They’ll revamp and restructure our attitudes towards what we can accomplish with technology – and banks should position themselves to take advantage of its success.

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