Investing From Your Wrist: Financial Firms Turn Their Attention to Smartwatches

by on Mar 27, 2014

Since the release of the iPhone in 2007 and iPad in 2010,Smartwatches mobile
banking and investing have become nearly ubiquitous, leaving many to wonder what the next ground-breaking device might be. As we’ve written about before, most financial services firms are yet to fully embrace the latest wearable technology, but are very interested in discovering how they could leverage those high-tech products to meet client needs in the future.

While Google Glass has grabbed the most headlines, wearables come in many more forms, with smartwatches another popular approach. Recently, financial services firms around the world have unveiled their first concepts for smartwatch investing apps.

The First Smartwatch Investing Apps
In February, Caixa Bank of Spain launched an application for Sony SmartWatch 2 that allows users to set up a watch list of stocks and indices to follow with a glance at their wrist. Users can tap a symbol on the smartwatch screen to load a full quote on their smartphone.

Back on this side of the pond, Fidelity Labs recently released a video explaining its first app for Pebble, a leading smartwatch compatible with iOS and Android. Alerts and a watch list (borrowing its apps’ compact heat map display) make user-selected market information even more easily accessible than checking a phone. However, the video also points out possible future applications of wearable technology. The app could make use of geolocation to provide stock data relevant to nearby stores, or body sensors to advise against hasty, emotion-driven trades.


Fidelity Labs Wearable Computing Video
Smartwatch Outlook
Those more speculative ideas aside, smartwatch capabilities are currently limited, both in scope and audience. Those devices can currently only support a fraction of what a smartphone can. And while Pebble sales are approaching half a million – very impressive for what began as a Kickstarter project – it still leaves a very limited market for financial services apps.

However, Fidelity’s video makes clear that their initiatives here are forward-looking – while they might not see a strong demand yet, they are trying out ideas now to see what might be of most value if and when wearables catch on. Notably, both of the firms mentioned above have already developed Google Glassware. Firms that start early with designing and developing for a variety of wearable devices position themselves as leaders in the field with the potential for the biggest payoff in the long run.