In February, the release of Google Glass to developers was greeted with much fanfare in the press and excitement in the blogosphere. So, was this all puff? What has happened since?
Well, there is no doubt that it is still early days. After all, the actual device is not going to be commercially available until 2014. However, there are already some interesting signs of activity. In fact, a few banks have already announced Glass applications
– and we can glean some insights about the likely direction of future Glass based banking applications.
That doyenne of Iberian innovation, Banco Sabadell has been one bank to announce Glass-based innovation. Sabadell will be launching a Glass app that can display the nearest ATM, allow the viewing of accounts and support 24/7 video conferencing. The bank
has in effect focussed on customer service rather than transactions – and specifically placed emphasis on customer communications. This is a great start - but with references to future ATM functionality, the bank is already hinting at a different direction
for the future.
PrivatBank in Ukraine was one of the first banks to state their intention to launch a Glass based app (as was reported by Finextra back in April (https://www.finextra.com/news/fullstory.aspx?newsitemid=24730).
They have now launched a video of their proposed service on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEzXIYu2gII). Their video of the application includes QR code reading for bill payments and in-store
purchases, transfers to contacts initiated by voice, replacing cards at ATMs and even integration with petrol station pumps to decide how much fuel to put in your car. It also includes some interesting perspectives on gender stereotypes, but that is beside
the point. The PrivatBank proposition is all about making transactions easier – and for me this is where any Glass proposition will be at its most valuable to a customer.
We also know the world’s banking goliaths are working on their own Glass apps. Miranda Hill, vice president and manager for digital innovation capabilities at Wells Fargo went on the record to this effect back in August. Patents lodged by Bank of America
back in September 2012 also suggest that the bank is looking at how to use mobile technologies based on device cameras for object recognition and live video stream analysis. This could have a significant impact on personal financial management applications
deployed through Glass, making them more immediate and accessible to customers.
So whilst progress is still slow, the current still seems to be flowing in the direction of Glass. It will doubtless accelerate as soon as the Glass devices are commercially available in 2014. Once banks are in a position to offer customer service
and transactions through Glass, I believe we will see a significant shift in customer banking habits. The Google Glass is definitely half full.