Virtual Banking: the new way to access financial services

At the FinovateEurope 2017 in London, CREALOGIX presented its virtual reality solution “The Arcs”, that allows users to experience their finances. For example, “what if” scenarios playfully illustrate the future effects of expenditures on the account balance. We asked Reto Girsberger, head of our innovation department “WowLab”, what the innovation entails.

What exactly does “Meaningful experiences instead of boring interfaces” mean?

We want to encourage users to discover new possibilities and to model their finances. Immersion plays a key role. It makes the experience both informative and attractive for the customers, and thus encourages them to look into new products. Numbers are of secondary importance in the interface. The presentation of ratios and cash flows is far more important. This gives customers an overview of their financial situation. Complementary products and services that offer the customer genuine added value, are of course available, too.

Isn’t it true that virtual reality banking is just something for young people, the so-called Millennials and members of Generation Z?

Using the virtual reality (VR) glasses, users can peek into the future: For example, the new technology enables them to better assess whether or not they can afford a new car without actually accessing their funds. Millennials and members of Generation Z have grown up with such technologies and are accustomed to using decision-making tools. The principle of “trial and error” without consequences is normal learning behaviour for them. That is why they are likely to be the first-time adopters. But only if the offer is tailored to their needs, of course.

Aren’t a few fancy graphics enough for this?

No, the ideas and needs of tomorrow’s banking customers are far more complex. Besides, it would be a shame not to use the full potential of VR. We don’t simply want to replicate reality, as in “Second Life”, which no-one is interested in any more. We are exploring new ways to present financial information in 3D. This creates added value for every age group.

What motivated you to develop a banking app that uses VR, of all things? 

The representation on the digital banking portals is normally in 2D. This is very limiting, especially since the data and circumstances in the financial industry are extremely complex. So why not use VR to take advantage of today’s graphical and technological possibilities as a Fintech company? After all, this allows banks to offer development potential for better representation of their products and services. In addition, virtual reality also addresses those for whom bare facts and figures are too abstract and who would rather take decisions on an emotional level.

Reto Girsberger

People ask me: “Why should I use a VR banking app all of a sudden?”

The keyword here is financial competency. My daughter is five years old and cannot read yet. But using VR, I can show her how much we spend on food or holidays compared to her pocket money. However, once she’s got hold of the VR glasses, it is unfortunately rather difficult to get them away from her

What lessons did you learn during the development of “The Arcs”?

As an innovation laboratory, “WowLab” is naturally predestined to develop a VR solution. In the process, we are breaking new ground. There are no established concepts. While the aspects for navigation, information architecture and usability are known from the UX development, they had to be adapted or reinvented for VR. Technologically, no standards and tools have been established yet either. One important aspect is the currently limited graphics power of smartphones. To prevent dizzy spells while the user is in 3D space, we have to display at least 60 frames per second. We passed this threshold after countless trials, adjustments and tricks. Users can now navigate through their “The Arcs” world of finance smoothly.

You won the “Best of Show 2017” award. What’s next for VR banking?

At the moment, “The Arcs” merely represents financial data. Of course, we hope to further expand the experience. Our ultimate goal is to enable users to make all payments, manage their assets and handle stock exchange orders in virtual reality. I also see “The Arcs” as an attractive tool for schools, that can be used to teach children and young people how to use today’s financial instruments such as leasing, renting or loans. As you can see, the potential of virtual reality in the financial sector is huge. We at WowLab are exploiting it step by step.