The Next Stage in the Financial Revolution: AR and VR Solutions 

This article is written by Daglar Cizmeci, a serial investor, founder and CEO.

Technology-enabled financial solutions have undergone an evolution over the past 130 years. We can consider the late 19th century to have given way to financial globalisation. Starting with technologies such as the telegraph, railroads and steamships that enabled rapid transmission of financial information across the globe. 

Since then, rapid technological developments have enhanced the way financial institutions can deliver their services. Traditionally, the financial sector has depended largely on human input to collect, manipulate and use data to serve the financial needs of consumers. From investment banking, accounting and wealth management, to insurance, regulated advice and retail banking; human involvement has always been necessary. 

Then came Big Data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). AI has become an integral part of our daily lives. From powering what we see on social media, activating facial recognition and suggesting the music we want to listen to; it seems fitting that artificial intelligence also contributes to our financial sector. 

Machine learning as a subset of AI is constantly changing the way we make decisions. Unsurprisingly, managing our finances and machine learning is a natural combination. Thanks to machine learning, functions like fraud detection and credit scoring have become automated. Banks have also come to leverage machine learning and predictive analysis to offer customers personalised user experience. Whilst startups are hitting the market in abundance with new solutions to managing our wealth. Consider ARQ’s technology enabling you to connect investments and see how you’re performing with actionable insights generated from vast quantities of data. 

AR and VR in the Financial Sector 

The next step in the financial evolution has welcomed the applications of immersive Augmented and virtual realities. Before we explore the ways in which these technologies have spun the financial sector on its head; it pays to have a good understanding of what these realities are. 

Virtual reality (VR) is essentially an immersive and multi-sensory computer-generated experience – allowing users to interact with a simulated environment. Users can sense and perceive realities around them through a VR headset.

Augmented reality (AR) is the technology that overlays a digital perception over the actual real world. It’s immersive and dynamic that ultimately enhances the real world with information through a smartphone, smart lenses, and tablets.

Revolutionary capabilities of AR and VR in Finance 

A report by investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates that augmented and virtual reality is set to become an 80 billion-dollar market by 2025. Financial institutions are experimenting with the implementation of these technologies with a focus on increasing value and propositions by making the user experience more personalised and accessible.

Simple but effective applications of AR and VR have thus far, included basic apps that use location services to help deliver updates on the nearest ATM and bank branches, for example. More dynamic 3D solutions have promoted investment advice and banking solutions.

Augmented reality has a track record of exciting and hooking its users. It can be said that the fact 1 in 10 Americans were hooked to the virtual world mapping application – Pokemon Go – serves as a testament to the scope for applying such technology to other areas of everyday life. Like banking, managing wealth and payments.

AR and VR can transform traditional banking and financial services into staggering, visual experiences by developing a personalised, face-to-face virtual environment. As such, these reality technologies are transforming the way financial institutions show empathy with customers by making the experience more personal. For example, Fidelity Investments developed a VR agent named ‘Cora’ to interact with users and recommend stocks based on big data and the individual’s portfolio. Users can even interact with Cora by asking questions in a VR chat room. 

Adding Value to the Financial Sector with AR and VR

Part of revolutionising the financial sector over the past 130 years has been to add value to the services provided, to enhance efficiencies and propel the sector forward. As such, the application of AR and VR is expected to deliver on each evolutionary point. 

Virtual trading 

Advanced AR-backed stock trading and investing let users track and visualise the financial markets at depth. Flat images and charts have been replaced with holographic visualisation, 3D structures and intuitive heatmaps. Trading decisions can be made based on real-time data

Both AR and VR have assisted in strengthening the concept of ‘workplace anytime anywhere’. Users can now work on laptops and mobiles as well as switch to virtual rooms to collaborate with and seek advice from virtual agents. It helps to strengthen the decision making process by jointly analyzing financial data

Swiss bank Swissquote introduced a VR app, using a VR helmet to create a 360C trading wall for users to monitor markets and trade with all information in front of them.

Security 

With unprecedented levels of collecting, storing and managing mass data, many institutions are turning to tech-driven options to boost their core systems. Since biometrics is central to the augmented reality framework, financial service institutions propose more secure and sustainable protection against identity theft and data breach – which may have never been high on their priority list. 

In the advent of behavioural biometrics; iris detection and voice recognition are being integrated with AR to build secure options and maximise security. 

Data visualisation

Advisors, investors, traders and individuals now have access to simplified breakdowns of mass data and information to make informed decisions. AR and VR have both improved access to such useful information. Fidelity Labs used Oculus Rift to create an immersive 3D environment to analyse data and stock portfolios with accurate measure. Within this realm, ‘Stock City’ can be accessed to view a 3D reality for insights and data immersion.

Retail banking 

Virtual retail banking has been at the forefront of Fintech over the past 10 years, running concurrently with the shift towards a digitized ecosystem. Chatbots and virtual assistants have added an extra element of making the customer experience more personalised. Face-to-face time from anywhere at any time is a key-value addition that AR is facilitating.

The future of an immersive financial sector 

AR and VR technologies are already being rolled out and incorporated into everyday financial activities. There are some exciting developments in progress. In June 2020, Apple had been granted two new patents for its head-mounted vision correction devices that remove the need to wear prescription glasses while interacting with AR and VR devices. This is a massive technological advancement which raises the question of when, exactly, will Apple enable mixed reality eyewear that is capable of retina scanning and authorise payments. 

AR and VR developments we see in alternative industries like healthcare, education, construction and beyond; can all contribute to the future development of an immersive financial sector.

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