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A Glass Act: Google Glass and the Wearable Bank of 2014

After many long months of hype, discussion and the occasional real world sighting, Google Glass is rumoured to finally be hitting UK stores this summer. Currently still only in the domain of the select few, the technology has been the subject of much debate and speculation. However, now Google seems to be nearing a UK launch date, it’s time to take a look at the real world implications of a technology that’s promising to re-define our relationship with digital banking and new and evolving financial services platforms. 


Google Glass has the potential to bridge the gap between physical and digital banking in a truly meaningful way this year, in part by vastly enhancing wearers’ traditional branch experiences, but also by opening up a wealth of new payment options. One example is Google Glass’s ability to recognise when a wearer winks, which could provide 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.


Another interesting Google Glass application is the QR code scanner with its mobile banking capability, as was recently demonstrated in the latest development from our Innovation Lab. Using the device’s built-in camera to scan QR codes, Google Glass can understand which account to pay. Once the account has been selected, the user can finalise the payment by authenticating on a smartphone device paired to the headset. It has the potential to completely transform how people make payments and the overall role of personal finances.


Existing systems don’t necessarily need to be overhauled to successfully migrate digital banking onto Google Glass. Most digital financial services providers will be able to use existing banking apps and technology on the new platform.  Although there are undoubtedly certain challenges for financial institutions, Glass, and the products it will inevitably inspire, open up a new and exciting world for digital banking.


The demand for wearable tech has not only been fostered by the hype around Google Glass, but also by the success of the Pebble and Samsung smartwatches and the increasing expectation of Google’s Android Wear and the Apple iWatch. Research by Intelligent Environments reveals a third (33%) of 18 to 24 year olds are interested in using Google Glass to manage their finances, without having seen or tested a working prototype. Banks and financial services providers need to ensure they have a clear strategy in place, before the technology is available to buy this summer.



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