Wearable banking: Google Glass

Apple's CEO Tim Cook sees 'wearables as a very important branch of the tree', and Google Glass is one of the first technologies to have blossomed into this space. The ground-breaking wearable technology, Google Glass, a computer integrated into a pair of spectacles, promises to re-define our relationship with the digital world. Using touch controls and voice recognition, Google Glass 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 the world of banking, writes David Webber

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook sees ‘wearables as a very important branch of the tree’, and Google Glass is one of the first technologies to have blossomed into this space. The ground-breaking wearable technology, Google Glass, a computer integrated into a pair of spectacles, promises to re-define our relationship with the digital world. Using touch controls and voice recognition, Google Glass 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 the world of banking, writes David Webber

New research by Intelligent Environments reveals that one in six (16%) 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 experience to wearable technology.

Wearable technology has interesting implications for how consumers may continue to manage their finances. Our research shows that only 19% of British consumers like to manage their money via a branch, compared to 76% who prefer to use digital means. As such, if Google Glass does indeed form an ‘important branch of the tree’, it is likely that consumers will choose to manage their finances using the new technology.

A simple wink could allow wearers instant access to a chosen bank account, giving consumers the opportunity to make payments on the train, view loan options while they’re walking to work, or browse the latest insurance offers as they prepare dinner. It could also bridge the gap between physical and digital banking with wearers using traditional branch banking in a more digital way. For example, the Google Glass wearer who sees a simple screen inside their peripheral vision may use the technology to navigate around their local branch, for instance the technology could tell them which queue will be the quickest. Wearable technology will open up the world of digital banking and has the potential to re-define the role of the bank.

This is a snapshot of how we will start interacting with our bank within 12 months. Of course, security will be a big issue. A debate, still raging 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, on the move. Providers will need to have a sophisticated security system in place which works across all banking platforms and can deal with the potential vulnerabilities presented by Google Glass.

However, what’s clear is that Google Glass and the products it will inevitably inspire will open up a new and thrilling world for digital 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. We’re already seeing an increase in multi-channel banking with mobile banking apps for smartphones and tablets, alongside online web browser banking and I can’t wait to explore the possibilities that this new technology will bring to the digital banking world.