What Virtual Reality Means for Your Credit Union17 June, 2022
By now you've seen them: people with giant pieces of plastic and glass strapped over their eyes, their arms flailing in the air as they navigate a virtual world inside a pair of VR goggles.
What you might not have seen: this person with the VR goggles is your customer.
VR ("virtual reality") and its cousin AR ("augmented reality") are fun and revolutionary ways that people are beginning to interact with brands, information, and the world—and as these technologies become more prevalent, they will also start to disrupt business-as-usual, both online and in the "real" world.
VR and AR will also change the ways people do their banking.
You’ll be forgiven if you're struggling to imagine how this technology will help your credit union. Until recently, virtual reality—the ability to experience internet content inside created, immersive 3D worlds—has mainly been used for video games. Augmented reality—where the camera inside goggles, glasses, or smartphones is used to superimpose an interactive layer of information on top of the real world—is something you're more likely to see in a sci-fi movie than in your hometown.
But banks and credit unions are already capitalizing on this powerful new tool for reaching and serving customers.
Here are some of the ways financial institutions can take advantage of VR and AR:
These past two years, we've learned a lot of things can be done virtually instead of in real-life, and banking is no exception. With VR, a customer can "visit" your credit union and interact with a teller—without leaving their home. Community is the backbone of what makes your credit union special, and VR allows you to stay connected with your customers across any distance. One credit union already taking advantage of VR is Park Community Credit Union in Kentucky: their ITMs ("interactive teller machines") allow customers to interact with live bank tellers from any ATM location.
Banking is full of abstract concepts that can be hard for customers and even employees to understand. VR and AR turn out to be great tools for teaching—so much so that Bank of America is creating VR training for employees in nearly 4,300 locations. VR's immersive environment is being used to mimic real-life customer interactions and can even provide real-time feedback. GTE Financial has created an entire VR library of their expert guides, giving customers an immersive new way to learn about financial services.
VR and AR graphical interfaces are able to show data models in three and even four dimensions, which is a powerful tool for traders and bank customers alike: imagine being able to show a customer the benefits of refinancing by literally showing them how quickly two different stacks of money pile up. 3D and 4D visualization helps people understand their investment portfolio, too—which is why Fidelity Labs recently created a virtual world called "StockCity" where stock portfolios can be explored by investors in 3D.
Events and Member Perks
Your credit union probably sponsors community events—but have you ever wished these events could reach more people? Citi recently hosted a series of live concerts as a thank-you to their cardmembers, and for people who couldn't make the live events in Rockefeller Center, the banks also gave out 30,000 VR headsets. The VR experience was a customized deluxe "backstage experience" where people could interact live with the artists.
One of the newest, most beautiful bank branches in the world was built by Bank of Kuwait—virtually. The bank worked with designers to create the "bank of the future," where customers could experience what banking might look like years from now, and where the bank could modify and test out new designs at almost no cost. It's easy to imagine that, when VR is used as widely as computers, we will access these virtual branches for all of our banking needs.
One way VR worlds will always resemble the outside world: commerce. MasterCard, BNP Paribas, and other financial institutions are creating technology to allow people to make real-life purchases without leaving the virtual world. As this catches on, more and more retail will happen in the "metaverse"—including retail banking.
At Vibrant, it's our job to understand new trends and how they might affect your business—and it's our pleasure to work with you on innovative ways to take the best advantage of emerging technology like VR and AR.