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Is virtual reality the future of financial services?

If you’re pretty clued up on tech news, you’ll be familiar with the terms virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

If not, don’t fret.

These hot new trends involve changing the world around you in real time, whether you’re looking at it through a screen or a specially designed headset. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to say AR adds a little extra to the real world – think Pokemon Go! which adds characters to real life locations  – whereas VR adds you to a simulated one – think the Matrix but less freaky.

Either way, it’s the next big thing in tech and is forecast to hit revenues of $120 billion or even more by 20201. That’s up from the $5 billion that it showed in 2016. Quite a leap.

A large amount of that revenue may be from the systems’ applications to the gaming industry, but some companies in the financial services industry are starting to think about how they can use these new technologies to make banks and building societies more accessible for everyone.

We’ve already seen some financial institutions make great strides using this new technology. Take, for example, BNP Paribas, the French bank that recently introduced a VR app for customers to access their account information.

Citibank traders have been testing VR capabilities when it comes to visualising stock market data, trading software and market news2

Though just experiments at this stage, it still highlights some of the possibilities for other banks and building societies. It will be a few years before any of this is ready to be properly introduced and, even then, we can be sure there will be backlash from consumers.

There are concerns regarding both the privacy of virtual banking and what it could mean for the already dwindling number of branches available.3

With tighter regulations than ever, banks and building societies are going to have to make sure VR and AR is fool proof before introducing it to the public.

At the Family Building Society, we don’t have any immediate plans to dabble in virtual reality, but we’re always looking for ways to improve the level of service we provide, especially with regards to how you access your accounts online.

That’s why, later this year, we’ll be introducing some upgrades to our Online Service that will make the experience easier and more useful than before. We hope to reveal more information soon, so keep an eye out for what’s in store.

And, who knows, maybe someday soon you’ll be drawing your money out of a virtual cash point.


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Family Building Society
Ebbisham House
30 Church Street
Surrey KT17 4NL
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