Will TV banking ever become a reality?

A few months have passed since Apple launched the latest version of its Apple TV box.

Will TV banking ever become a reality?

With this in mind, we explore whether ‘TV Banking’ is ever likely to come to fruition.  

Way back in April 2000, The Independent ran an article entitled “TV: the new interface of banking”. It announced that “Banks are hoping that digital television will put their interactive services into millions of lounge rooms” and that “HSBC predicts that 71 per cent of retail banks will either offer interactive TV banking within the next six months or are negotiating with digital providers to develop such products”.

Then in 2001, The Guardian predicted similar TV banking services.

Here we are 15 years later … with TV banking still nowhere to be seen.

Will Apple’s new tvOS SDK make any difference?

Even with the huge leaps that have been made with digital TV technologies over recent years, we’re still waiting.

Maybe that will change with the launch of the latest Apple TV last autumn.  Unlike its predecessors, third parties can develop apps for the newest device in the Apple line-up.

The company has introduced a new operating system for the Apple TV called tvOS.  It’s very much based on iOS and built for the living room. Developers can build their apps using the Apple TV development kit and users can download them from the tvOS App Store.  While Apple are remaining tight-lipped about volumes, many large publishers have released the likes of BBC iPlayer, flickr, Vimeo, Airbnb and Rayman Adventures onto the platform.

I’ve yet to see a bank or financial services provider follow suit and probably for good reason.

The pros and cons of TV banking

To answer that question, we need to look at it from the user’s point of view. What benefits does TV banking have to offer? What issues would hinder its adoption?

If we compare TV banking to the highly popular mobile banking, its pros and cons become quite clear. Firstly, while TV banking would be great for sharing information with family and friends, there aren’t a huge number of banking scenarios where we would actually want to do that.

Input devices for Smart TVs are also poorly equipped for that kind of task – they’re optimised for channel hopping, moving through menus and playback control, not for entering login credentials.  While the Apple TV ships with a beautiful Siri enabled touchpad remote control, it’s lacking any biometric support which might help overcome this issue.

Privacy is key

When it comes down to it, it’s really all a question of privacy.

If we look at the different devices available today – or that might become available in the near future – it’s easy to spot the more personal ones that offer the greatest levels of privacy. Maybe these will be the most popular banking interfaces of the future:

  • A device that stays mostly in direct contact with your person offers the greatest privacy. Today’s smartwatch or tomorrow’s augmented reality goggles are prime examples. They are very personal and users will probably feel quite comfortable with any banking information being shared through their interfaces.
  • A personal device that you keep with you most of the time, but also put down from time to time, would offer the next level of privacy. Most people are quite comfortable with mobile banking these days, provided simple security measures [PDF] are in place to protect access to their account.
  • Tablets and other computing devices shared within the household offer less privacy. Whilst phones and watches tend to belong to individuals it’s not uncommon for one tablet to belong to everyone in a household. Like phones though, and unlike TVs, tablets are optimised for personal use. If you do access banking on these types of device, you’ll no doubt ensure you log out each time you put it down and that your kids don’t get access to your login credentials.
  • Your smart TV offers the lowest level of privacy within your home. You can only access systems or information in private if no-one else is at home and if no-one can read the screen through your windows. Only by encoding the data in a way that ensures the information is only meaningful to you, the account holder, could you ensure privacy.

So, after exploring our original question of whether TV banking is ever likely to become a reality, it would seem that its limited privacy might prove to be an inhibitor.

What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on what might emerge as the first killer banking app for the smart TV?