Banking on your wrist? At the start of the year, many industry pundits were sceptical about the potential of wearable tech. After all, do millennials even wear watches?
But once Apple rolls out its Apple Watch next spring, I suspect wearing watches will be cool again. And practical. After all, you’ll be able to discreetly check your bank account balance to see if you have enough cash to cover the tab for dinner — with a quick glance at your wrist.
That’s now a reality with Scotiabank’s new Quick Balance app, the country’s first wearable banking technology. The app, available on the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear S, allows you to check your balance by swiping the screen on your wrist.
The velocity of the shift from online to mobile has been “spectacular,” Jeff Marshall, vice-president of the self-service customer experience with Scotiabank, told expertIP. “It’s a true hockey stick in terms of that growth. … We want to stay ahead of that.”
That means jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon. But that implies wearable tech is a fad or trend. More likely, it’s the next evolution of mobile computing.
And for Scotiabank, developing Quick Balance is an attempt to stay ahead of the curve with a self-service banking solution that consumers don’t even know they want — yet.
While Marshall says the use cases for wearable banking technology are limited right now — and there’s a “novelty factor” to the technology — it’s really about where it could go. Eventually, smart watches won’t have to be tethered to a smartphone and they’ll be capable of gathering a continuous flow of live data.
Wearable tech is in its infancy, but research firms expect it will grow rapidly. “I would argue 2015 is going to be a big tipping point, triggered by Apple coming out with Apple Watch in the spring of 2015,” said tech analyst and TV host Amber MacArthur, better known as Amber Mac. “For years now we’ve been talking about mobile wallets and … there’s a good chance that mobile wallet will be on your wrist.”
Indeed, the killer app for smart watches and wearable banking technology could be mobile payments. Imagine checking your balance, paying for your coffee and collecting loyalty points with the swipe of your wrist instead of your phone.
Mac suspects other banks will follow in Scotiabank’s footsteps because wearable tech is likely the next big thing in mobile banking. “Everybody is talking about this omni-channel approach, where (consumers) have a similar experience across different platforms,” she said. The goal is to make this more seamless, whether they’re talking to a teller or swiping their watch (right now, Scotiabank’s Quick Balance is a standalone app).
“As wearables become more widely used and adopted we’ll continue to expand out to a lot more devices,” said Marshall. “It piggybacks off our mobile infrastructure, so because of that it was a fairly reasonable build.”
If you’re building out your infrastructure to support an omni-channel approach, you’d be remiss not to consider wearable technology. Sure, it might be seen as a bit of a novelty right now, but it’s a smart move (pun intended) for the future.
“It’s not just about having a smart watch,” said Mac, “but what you’ll be able to do with it.”