Pokémon Go Brings Augmented Reality to the Masses—and Creates Opportunities for Financial Services Firms

by on Jul 14, 2016


Since launching earlier this month, the Pokémon Go app has already hooked millions of users, transforming them into crazed hunters running through parks and city streets, smartphone in hand, scanning their environment in hopes of catching coveted digital creatures. The app’s success has translated to over $7 billion in added market value to parent company Nintendo, and has sparked an immediate ascension to the top of the free and paid app charts in the United States.

Pokémon Go’s primary functionality is driven by augmented reality (AR)—a technology that has been available for quite some time, but is still enigmatic to most mobile device users. AR uses technology to overlay digital information on a user’s physical surroundings to create an enhanced reality—such as seeing a Pokémon sitting on a park bench. Due to Pokémon Go‘s instantaneous, widespread success, there may never be another need to explain AR, even to the least tech-savvy.

user playing pokemon goUser Playing Pokemon Go

The drastic upsurge in public awareness of AR represents an opportunity for financial services firms to effectively incorporate the technology into their customer-facing mobile experiences. Some firms, such as PNC, U.S. Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Royal Bank of Canada have already begun utilizing it to help direct users to the closest branch or ATM. PNC’s Finder app, for example, locates PNC bank branches and ATMs through GPS and overlays directions through the phone’s camera. The National Bank of Oman app includes a similar AR feature that locates offers and deals as users walk through a mall or shopping district.

national bank of oman appNational Bank of Oman App – Finding Deals at the Mall

Some financial services firms are starting to employ AR to show clients their account information in creative new ways. For example, Westpac New Zealand has integrated AR features to allow users to point their device’s camera at their credit card to see a 3D overview of their finances, including recent spending, available balance and upcoming bills.

westpac mobile augmented reality appWestpac Mobile Augmented Reality App

USAA has developed an AR application with a focus on real estate. The Specs feature within the USAA mobile app allows users to search for real estate listings within a two-mile radius of the phone. Using the built-in camera, the app displays a map of potential listings, as well as round icons displaying the prices and distances of each house from their current location. Through Specs, USAA has created a value-added shopping service that conveniently compliments the firm’s insurance products.

usaa specsUSAA Specs – Camera View and Property Details

AR can also be utilized as a marketing tool, specifically as an add-on to existing product and service graphics. When users hover over an image with their smartphone, additional information or a short commercial could appear on that product or service. Outside the financial services industry, Layar is one firm that employs this technology, offering a mobile app that allows third-party brands to implement AR marketing campaigns. Users download the app to view marketing content, accessible by scanning companies’ logos on magazines, newspapers and other materials.

layarLayar – Hovering over Ad and Bringing Ad to Life

Thanks to the immense popularity of Pokémon Go, augmented reality has gone from a loosely understood concept to a universally appreciated technology—nearly overnight. Financial services firms should capitalize on this expanded awareness to develop creative new applications of AR. Doing so will foster opportunities to create and apply helpful and imaginative concepts to their customers’ daily lives, and integrate brand experiences into their physical world.

In Corporate Insight’s latest special study, The Innovation Advantage, we cover all facets of the rapidly expanding AR landscape and their potential within financial services, including the emergence of wearable AR devices such as Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens. To download a study preview and view sales information, click here: The Innovation AdvantageBe sure to register for our upcoming webinar, covering other areas of the study: How Can Financial Institutions Improve Their Digital Goal-Setting Tools and Educational Resources?