Finance is Boring, Pokemon GO (and Augmented Reality) is Not

pokemonThe latest to trend on iTunes and Google Store: Pokemon GO.

Pokemon GO, released last week, reportedly has more than 5 million users across the three countries, U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Pokemon has been around for decades (that’s probably why it’s so popular among adults, too), and the game is not new: players “collect” Pokemons from virtually everywhere, like diners or malls, and train them to fight against each other and in Pokemon gyms.

But this particular version of the game went viral for a reason: virtual reality and social interaction. Banks and FIs should take note of this success.

VR, in fact, is already on banks’ agenda, Nathan Stevenson, CEO of cognitive advisory platform Forwardlane, said at a recent conference in New York.

There is a new narrative today for wealth managers, and it doesn’t end with robo-advisers. And VR is a game changer for that. Banks around the world are already looking into this tech, and seeing how they can supercharge their advisors with the new tools, like virtual dashboards. It is also a breakthrough on the customer experience side.

Both big and small firms, according to Stevenson, should be taking steps toward developing VR tools, because the new generation of investors demands engaging and interactive products, wherever they are. The Polish company Comarch, as well as Citigroup, has already shown off VR technology for wealth management clients this year.

On the social aspect of Pokemon GO, besides creating foot traffic for some businesses, including banks (because you have to physically move to find Pokemons. I know, exhausting.) … 

… the app has created interaction, the kind that drives millions to download and play together, or at least along side each other, Mark Zmarzly, CEO of soon-to-launch PFM app Hip Money, told Bank Innovation.

Another thing Pokemon Go does have going for it that bankers can learn from is community. There are articles, about 30-50 people showing up at the same place and playing together. It’s not overly said, but it’s implied that there’s a sense of community and togetherness in that interaction. Finances isn’t a win-lose or red ocean industry for the consumers. We can all win. We can build community and win together. I’ve seen Sofi doing some interesting things for their members to build community like dating events or other social FACs to introduce like minded money saving millennials together. What can banks do to create an experience, integration, event, or app that taps into the benefit of the collective whole? There in lies the thing worth catching [pun intended]. 

At its launch, Hip Money will feature a peer-to-peer comparison to drive a sense of “community,” Zmarzly said.

But the finance world is not yet close to providing a similar in-app experience, Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite, told Bank Innovation.

My son says that it throws him back to the game he played but in VR. It gets people out. It makes things physically engaging. It mixes the real world and the fantasy world. Lessons for FIs? Finance is boring. Online finance and robo-advice is about as interactive as Pokemons 10-15 years ago – which is not much to say. Can finance in 5 years be as engaging as Pokemon Go?

At the rate of tech acceleration today, five years should be feasible. So far, the app’s success added nearly $11 billion to the value of Nintendo.

Source: Google Finance

Source: Google Finance

The power of geolocation and augmented reality should not be underestimated. We are only beginning to see the applications of this technology, but when they arrive, they will be familiar, because so many people are hunting for Pokemon while you’re reading this article.

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