Banks Explore New World of Customer Convenience With Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality are poised to disrupt modern banking, offering customers an immersive experience in ultra-personalized convenience.

I put on a head-mounted device (HMD) at the recent SAP Financial Services Innovation Summit held at the SAP Leonardo Center in New York where I experienced a mesmerizing example of AR that could turn banks into real estate brokers and customers into people who can’t wait to visit their local branch.

Banks could partner with architectural firms to obtain floor plans, and use AR and VR to give customers virtual tours of property under construction or located in another country.

“Finding a property in crowded cities like New York or London is often very difficult,” said Vidya Gugnani, Partner Innovation and Engagement at SAP. “We’re co-innovating to develop solutions that provide a seamless and immersive experience for home buyers.”

Developed through a partnership between the SAP Co-innovation Lab and a global bank, the Live-immersive banking for real estate application is on SAP Cloud Platform. It consists of an iPhone app customers use it to search for a new home and mortgage, and is connected to a banker with a 360-degree view of the customer’s finances on their iPad. In no way does this buying process resemble how people currently troll through online property listings, or even attend open houses.

Augmented reality could turn banks into real estate brokers

Point and Shop

When someone finds a home that looks interesting, they simply point their phone at the property, and can immediately see important information like the current price, when and what it last sold for, and relevant neighborhood data such as comparable properties, schools, hospitals and shopping nearby. If they like what pops up, they can favorite the property, quickly compare similar houses, calculate affordability and potential mortgage payments, and schedule an appointment with their personal banker to apply for a mortgage – all on their phone.

Meantime, the banker is notified of the buyer’s interest, and has access to all relevant information on their iPad, including the customer’s interests, assets, liabilities, net worth, and favorited properties. With this data, the bank can automatically pre-qualify someone for a loan.

Take an Unforgettable Banking Journey

It’s inside the bank office where VR and AR change everything. Putting on my HMD, I experienced what future home buyers could encounter at their local banking branch. In a visually striking 3D computer-generated environment, I used gestures to easily search for specific properties by size and location, soaring above aerial views of the entire neighborhood, and lifting the roof from each building to “walk through” the homes. Gugnani told me these AR capabilities are part of a future banking display in Dubai.

“The goal is to provide consumers with an unforgettable experience,” said Gugnani. “They can use AR or VR to take a complete virtual tour of floor plans for property that’s under construction or located in another country. Banks can partner with architectural firms to make this information available.”

Gugnani thinks banks can use VR and AR to create new business models, partnering with real estate companies to sell more mortgages to qualified buyers. Once the consumer purchases the property, the bank could also provide insurance, becoming a one-stop shop. She added that “it could also eliminate the need to pay broker fees which are significant in a place like Dubai, opening up opportunities for expanded banking services,”

Gartner research predicted HMD sales of will reach almost $19 million by 2021, and has also found that 40 percent of organizations using or piloting AR discover the technology exceeds their expectations. The challenge for banks is figuring out how to use VR and AR in ways to keep demanding customers satisfied.

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