The bank for a changing world

Will connected objects replace credit cards, wallets and piggy banks?

  • 26.07.2016

Connected objects are popping up everywhere in our daily lives. But can they penetrate the banking world? Connected objects already offer “banking” uses, but while some are highly promising, others seem to exist more as a novelty. Here are some of the more serious applications…

Enhanced visibility for a account holders

Instead of spawning new banking service categories, connected objects will first blend into various banking interactions and change the way customers access services. For example, “connected glasses” may emerge as a new interface for checking account activity. Connected watches might discreetly alert customers that a bank transfer has gone through, that they are approaching a “threshold” amount, or that they can pick up their new checkbook at their local branch. New connected objects could produce other alerts, as well. We might imagine a simple box that lights up in red or green to reflect an account balance, or flashes to indicate that a personal banker has sent a message.

For customers, this enhanced visibility over their accounts or major transactions will make it faster and easier to manage their budgets on a daily basis

Hello Watch: the first banking app for connected watches!

In September 2014, Hello Bank, the “mobile banking” subsidiary of BNP Paribas, released the very first connected watch banking app for its customers. Apple Watch owners can check their account balance at a glance, as well as their last 3 transactions and message notifications. They can also call the Hello Team on their phone if they have any questions.

Simplify uses and improving services

Connected objects may also transform services in a profound way. For example, connected wristbands could double as digital wallets. Users someday might make payments by holding their band next to a sensor—a principle already in use at some music festivals, where concert goers pay for drinks at the bar using a prepaid band. Contactless payments could become easier than ever, requiring no more than a mere flick of the wrist. 

Connected wristbands may also help to authenticate customers, offering a simpler way to use ATMs than the classic debit cards.

A connected wristband to boost savings

Some initiatives are a little harder to interpret. For example, Russia’s Alfa Bank launched an offer combining a connected activity tracker and a savings account. Customers can choose to transfer between 1 and 50 kopeks (1 kopek = 0.0136 Euro cents) to their savings account for each meter they walk (up to 25 km per day). And the more the customer stays active, the higher the interest rate he or she receives from the bank. The bank says that customers opting for this service save twice as much money and walk 1.5 times more than the “average” customer. Personal finance and health finally march together…

Educational benefits for younger customers

Not only are they fun and easy to use, but connected objects can also have educational qualities. A prototype for a connected piggy bank was notably designed to educate young customers about saving. Kids can physically deposit coins and bills into the bank while parents, family and friends can electronically transfer additional funds into the bank. The piggy bank then displays its total amount, including the sums transferred into the piggy bank (also listing the donor for each sum) and the remaining amount needed to reach a savings goal set by the child. 

Across the banking world, connected objects are building new ties between consumers and banks. By enabling banks to identify their customers instantly and learn even more about them, banks can offer more personalized relationships and an enhanced banking experience.