Fashion Meets Finance: Wearable Computing Takes Shape for Financial Services

Wearable devices, epitomized today by technologies such as Google Glass™ and smart watches, are en vogue as a topic of conversation and subject of speculation.

Most wearable devices, including glasses and smart watches, are meant to work with a smartphone to gather data, take input or send notifications, and if they have screens, offer a simplified app display. Wearable devices have the potential to facilitate day-to-day banking activities, including making payments, transferring funds and receiving account information, with the blink of an eye or a tap of a wristwatch. It's clear that this technology has the potential to impact consumers and our industry.

However, before wearable technology takes hold in the financial services industry, consumers will have to be convinced that there are compelling reasons to use wearable devices. At FinovateSpring 2014, Fiserv is demonstrating how relevant financial information can be pushed to Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear™ wearable devices. The Point talked to Scott Hess, vice president, Consulting and Innovations for Fiserv, about the possibilities and limitations of wearable technology.

How do you see consumers using wearable devices to access financial services?

There are several use cases of wearables for financial institutions, including notifications, bill pay, funds transfer, alerts and access to account information. Financial institutions are also investigating banking apps for wearables that enable consumers to connect with a bank representative, find an ATM or pay for an item by taking a picture of a QR code, among other functions. At FinovateSpring 2014, Fiserv is demonstrating how consumers can elect to receive and take action on financial alerts through a wearable device.

How will wearable technology impact financial services?

Using notifications and alerts is a proven way to engage customers and increase loyalty, for example. Ultimately, it's about consumer choice and convenience, and receiving information via wearable technology adds another relevant endpoint. Are there other problems we could uniquely solve with wearable devices that are either difficult on another device or that turns into a delight for the end user? Like the smartphone ten years ago, there are uses for these devices that have yet to be fully explored.

What are the obstacles to widespread adoption?

The devices themselves, as well as consumers' perceptions, have room to mature. Wearable technology needs to actually solve a problem – or solve it in an easier way – than without the device if it is to move beyond a niche audience and into the mainstream. These are early days, but this is the time to be exploring how wearable technology can enhance consumers' financial lives. If we continue to focus on solving real-world problems for consumers, we won't go wrong.

Learn how the mobile alerts experience translates to new channels, including wearable technology.

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