Virtual Reality Is Becoming a Banking Reality and Comerica Bank Is Embracing the Opportunity

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Virtual reality technology is now very much an actual reality. With VR equipment now a common sight in many a domestic setting, the technology is finally starting to catch up to the stuff of science fiction.

As with most new technology, once it becomes popular with the masses, the next logical step is for brands to try and grab a slice of the pie and find ways to incorporate it into their operations. By 2020, it is estimated the virtual reality market will hit $30 billion and have penetrated almost every industry.

The banking industry is no exception. Finance brands like Comerica Bank are now deploying VR tech in new and exciting ways.

Virtual Reality Banking

How, then, can virtual reality technology help the banking industry better serve its clients? It's easy to see how the tech could benefit someone looking around a property or checking out a holiday destination - but applying it to the finance industry may take a little more out-of-the-box thinking.

However, with finance often being a somewhat intangible beast, virtual reality could help make it a little clearer in the eyes and ears of customers. Banks are reconsidering the best way to present a variety of banking concepts to their clients, with visualization being a promising avenue of research.

There are few more powerful methods of facilitating visualization than the near total immersion offered by virtual reality, so the technology could certainly be used in this fashion. Enabling banks to literally paint a picture of complex financial products - such as investment or insurance products - will help customers better understand the often opaque concepts the finance industry deals in, equipping them with the knowledge to confidently choose between various competing offers.

While such solutions could certainly be attractive to a customer visiting a branch for advice on investment or insurance options, what if the virtual reality technology being used was able to replace the branch itself?

Customers could put on their VR headset and "walk" into a virtual branch location. Bank employees working from a call center could also be wearing a headset, enabling them to virtually serve the customers as if they were in a real-life physical branch. This ability could offer a lifeline to elderly and/or disabled customers, who may prefer to visit a branch in person but are unable to because of their health or ability to travel.

Virtual reality powered apps are already being deployed in the banking industry - one of which allows homebuyers to see what a property presently under construction will look like upon completion. Another helps communicate the value and advantages of taking out cell phone insurance.

Comerica Bank

Now it's Comerica Bank's turn to bring its own virtual reality-based innovations to the table. However, instead of offering virtual experiences directly to the customer, the idea being put into action by Comerica Bank is to use the technology to help train its in-branch staff to better serve their clients.

Thanks to virtual reality technology, Comerica Bank can help its branch staff prepare for a range of situations. Whether it's advising customers on the entire range of Comerica Bank products or preparing for more unlikely situations such as emergencies, criminal activity, or even terror attack, virtual reality offers an elegant way to train staff without having to invest a lot of time and resources into complex roleplay scenarios or other outdated training methods.

The idea has been so popular that Gartner has named Comerica Bank one of the finalists for its highly-coveted 2018 Gartner Eye on Innovation Award for the Americas.

"Retail Banking at Comerica partnered with its internal Innovation Team and a startup called Mursion to use virtual reality (VR) to simulate engagement with customers in virtual Retail Banking Promise Centers," said Gartner in a press release. "The VR training experience focused on simulating 'real-world' situations that Comerica Retail Banking employees were likely to encounter in a Promise Center."

The ability for Comerica Bank employees to train in situations without having to worry about mistakes was lauded.

"Training participants interacted with one to three emotive avatars controlled by a human actor with voice modulation capabilities using a video-enabled laptop or an HTC Vive VR headset, providing participants with the ability to simulate conversations with customers in a safe environment," continued Gartner. "As a result, participants were able to develop confidence in their abilities and knowledge without the fear of failure, the experience was immersive and engaging, and the outcomes were proven to be superior to traditional training methods."

Final Thoughts

Whether for training purposes or to offer unique experiences directly to customers, virtual reality technology is set to have a profound impact on the banking industry. However, we'll have to wait and see whether virtual branches will replace brick-and-mortar locations altogether.

Virtual Reality is set to be a hot topic at Future Branches Boston, taking place in July.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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