Augmented reality would have seemed like science-fiction to most people just a few years ago. The idea that we could superimpose virtual objects over the real world was something out of Star Trek.
Thanks to the success of Pokemon Go! and Snapchat, it’s now clear that augmented reality is in fact a viable technology with countless potential applications. The fact that tech companies are rapidly improving the quality of wearable devices like headsets only further supports this notion.
Fintech startups should pay attention. As more businesses offer augmented reality products and services, fintech companies stand to take advantage of this other technological revolution in the following ways:
Supporting Retail Applications
Many experts predict that augmented reality will soon play a key role in the shopping experience.
For example, customers may soon be able to walk into a store, point their phones at a given product (or look at said product via a headset), and learn more about its features and potential uses, as well as read reviews.
For high-pricetag items, fintech companies could supplement the experience by using augmented reality to immediately display essential financial information. Customers viewing a product through such technology could use the app to immediately check their current account balance, find out what their balance would be after purchasing the product, and get a general sense of how the cost of a given product factors into their overall budget.
Fintech companies might also be able to help retailers offer more efficient means of making a transaction.
Consider this example: some furniture stores have already developed augmented reality tools that allow online shoppers to superimpose a scale image of a piece of furniture onto an image of the room they may place it in. Shoppers looking at a new sofa in a showroom or on their smartphone can see what it will look like in their living room before they make a purchase.
If they like what they see, fintech could allow them to purchase it immediately, streamlining the overall transaction process.
Assisting in Budgeting
Another theoretical augmented reality technology would help users find items that match certain criteria when shopping.
In the near future, you may be able to walk into a store with your smartphone or a headset, programming an app to “highlight” items based on your own specifications. Maybe you only want items from a certain brand, or maybe you’re buying groceries and want to focus solely on products that meet your particular dietary restrictions.
You could also use this type of feature to make budgeting easier. Imagine an app that highlights items in the store that fit into your current budget, helping you avoid products you can’t afford. Many popular fintech apps already offer budgeting help. By integrating augmented reality technology with these budgeting services, they could provide their users with even more convenience when they’re out shopping.
Helping Investors Make Decisions
Fintech apps like Robinhood have made investing in the stock market more accessible to people who can’t afford the high broker fees that traditional firms charge.
While Robinhood and similar products do offer a plethora of convenient features, many still lack essential research tools. Smart investors want to know a lot about a company before they decide whether to buy its stock.
This is yet another way in which augmented reality can change the game for the fintech sector. Soon, investors will likely be able to view a product through their devices, getting immediate information about the company that makes it. They can learn the stock price, view its history, and generally gather all the essential information they need to make an informed decision.
Sure, this last potential feature may seem like a novelty when compared to the other ways in which fintech companies can leverage augmented reality, but it can be extremely useful for people who travel often.
Unless you have a lot of experience traveling the world, it can be difficult to simply look at a random amount of currency in another nation and automatically know what it’s worth in your own nation’s currency.
That might not be a problem for much longer. Fintech and augmented reality companies could work together to offer an app that lets users view the currency in their wallet, translating it into their home nation’s currency in an instant. This would make budgeting much easier in other countries. You’d know exactly how much money you have in your pocket, and exactly how much you’re spending when you make a transaction.
These are just some of the ways in which augmented reality and fintech can come together to make people’s lives easier. As with most technological revolutions, it’s not possible to predict all the innovations on the horizon. That said, it’s clear that the marriage of augmented reality and fintech will benefit consumers in major ways.