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Using Extended Reality (XR) for Financial Services

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Blog 2.3 XR for Financial Services

This is the third blog in our series focused on financial services: the first two were focused on Themes and Trends, and on Banking with a Twist: Heart, Beauty, and Brain. In this article, we will continue to discuss how XR and the metaverse are impacting various industries, with a focus on financial services.

Citi Research predicted that the total market could reach USD 2.16 trillion by 2035, and that half of smartphone users could replace their phones with AR technologies. And Gartner reported that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social, and/or entertainment. For context – people currently spend 3h-4h/day on their smartphones, with most people checking their phones 58 times a day. Citi Research predicted that by 2035, half of smartphone users could replace their phones with AR technologies. (Naik, 2021)

What is driving the adoption of XR? Due to the latest innovations in mobile technology, every smartphone is now enabled with AR platforms, ARKit (for Apple devices), or ARCore (for Androids), allowing nearly everyone across the globe to access it. Through XR experiences, financial institutions have a greater ability at being more competitive in their markets, open new channels for customer interactions, and improve customer engagement and retention.

Where would people be spending all this time in the metaverse? How much of those experiences will require some form of money exchange?

The potential answers to these questions are the points that may create opportunities for elevating XR payment experiences (EbankIT, 2022). Typically, progressive FS organizations are using XR to help them with these prominent goals:

  1. Training and upskilling their staff, and adapting them for being the workforce of the future
  2. Innovation and promoting a culture of experimentation through rapid prototyping and testing
  3. Transforming payment systems
  4. Augmenting the physical branch with virtual branch services
  5. Simplifying complex data analysis and visualization
  6. Elevating marketing and providing more immersive and personalized products and services

Let us look at each of these areas in turn:

Workforce of the Future

Training and up-skilling: Technologies like automation, combined with AI/ML, will replace many repetitive and mundane jobs. Combined with XR, they will also generate millions of new jobs, which will be both more rewarding and better paid. Given the competitive job market, FIs will need to prepare ahead to train and upskill their staff to succeed in the knowledge economy. Using XR for training, with its multi-sensory experience, employee engagement and content retention will be much higher.

For example, research showed increased product sales using AR banking interactions with salespeople (Imaginate Collaborate in VR/AR, 2020).  Also, FIs can be used to safely simulate difficult interactions, including those involving operations under pressure for the bank staff, for scenarios like bank robbery, or fraud detection.

For example, Bank of America has conducted a pilot project with 400 members of their staff to bring more of their workplace training into virtual reality. (Matney, 2021).

Employee engagement and retention: Most FIs use some sort of hybrid work, which comes with both benefits and drawbacks. For example, if certain members of the staff are coming regularly to the office, they are more likely to be noticed, learn from osmosis, and become more visible for rewards and promotions, compared to the other employees who prefer to work mostly from home.

Using VR in an uncertain work world, employees can get to spend time together from the convenience of their homes, while building rapport, socializing, and strengthening the company culture. Also, given the competition for talent, the great resignation, etc. providing these types of environments open to experimentation that is looking for novel ways to encourage collaboration for remote teams. The progressive FIs using XR for their staff are likely to have better employee retention and engagement.

Humanizing digital interactions: Done right, XR can augment and elevate digital interactions.

For example, Aequilibrium has developed a VR tool specifically designed to improve creativity and collaboration for Agile distributed teams.



Advertising for potential customers and employees: Advertising will create interest and awareness not just for prospective customers, but also for new employees. In this competitive job market, XR can also bring new benefits to hiring practices for financial institutions.

Using a virtual avatar, a financial services company can offer a unique recruitment experience to potential employees. With the use of AI/ML, questions can be analyzed to understand the intent and context, and the responses can be rendered using a text-to-speech conversion. With remote onboarding, tasks such as office tours, providing information on operating processes, and work culture can be completely transformed using the XR technology.

Creating a Culture of Innovation and Experimentation

We work with a number of progressive credit unions who use techniques like design thinking, rapid prototyping, heuristic, and usability testing, and Google Design Sprints, to hypothesize, build, test, and learn, faster than their contemporaries. These types of experiments also include technologies of tomorrow, like the metaverse, which is seen as the evolution of the internet.

Some examples of innovation using XR include the Augmented Reality Mobile App (NBO AR) from the National Bank of Oman, where the latest banking technology innovation can help customers find their nearest branch or ATM and also locate the best offers and deals. While the Italian bank Widiba has enabled a sophisticated conversational experience within the virtual bank.

The innovators have invested in the real estates of tomorrow by acquiring a plot of land on the virtual real estate in The Sandbox metaverse partnered with HSBC. Also, Visa has launched a Visa Creator Program, with an initiative to support new artists, musicians, fashion designers and more enabling them to learn and adopt to the Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) into their systems of commerce.

Transforming Payment Systems

MasterCard has transformed their payment systems to enable customers to make payments from within the virtual reality experience, with zero interruptions. For example, a customer accessing a gaming application using a VR headset, such as Oculus Quest, may continue the game by purchasing additional credit points. In that case, banks can provide the interface for making a payment virtually, instead of requiring users to exit the app.

Another example would be a virtual mall where customers can visit different shops. Inside a store, people can examine a menu of assorted products and make a payment within the virtual world. This triggers a payment authentication with the customer’s account to complete the purchase, and then they can continue to shop without any disruptions to the experience. In a recent report, JP Morgan estimated $1,000 billion in business opportunities and acquired a commercial space in the virtual mall Metajuku on Decentraland.

The definition of what counts as money in the open metaverse is also likely to be very different from what counts as money in the real world today. Interoperability and seamless exchange between the underlying blockchain technology are critical to ensure a frictionless user experience. (CitiBank)

Augmenting the Physical Branch with Virtual Branch Services

Customers can use an AR/VR headset and visit the virtual branch at any time from anywhere, and a multimodal, interaction-based avatar can provide tailored customer service. While interacting with the avatar, customers can reach out to the customer service representative or branch manager remotely via audio/video call, whenever needed. In this virtual environment, banks can also partner with other vendors to promote joint services.

JP Morgan was the first to open a branch in the metaverse, while BNP Paribas also launched a Virtual Reality app that enables customers to use VR in their banking transactions, including account opening.

Banks and credit unions have started exploring XR in their branches now, with personalized advertisements for products that their clients actually need, while still maintaining the privacy of the customer data. More services can be accessed via XR from the comfort of your home, than those that can be directly availed by visiting the physical branch itself. In XR you can connect with financial experts across the world, simply by putting on an XR headset.


By driving growth using XR branches, FIs can widely expand their customer base, service offerings, and their workforce. By having an XR branch, people can perform more banking tasks from the comfort of their home, office, or travel destination. This would enable access to newer products and services that were not earlier offered at their branches and would result in more informed decisions through tools and advisors available round the clock.

Using the data from this new user behavior can enable banks to anticipate needs and new offerings that could make them far more innovative than their competitors. The challenge will be to ensure that the virtual experience closely resembles the real world while expanding enough to make it alluring and to drive people to use it at the earliest.

There have been challenges with using XR as a replacement for in-person interactions. At this point in time, with the capabilities of the system, it is more like an additional tool with some interactions which are better suited for the real world.

Simplifying Complex Data Analysis and Visualization

Financial services offer a number of examples where the visualization of complex information, and the ability to see details in context, is very helpful. Such as the visualization of one’s credit card charges, allowing customers to better understand and manage their spending patterns (Naik, 2021).

These types of reports can enhance the functionality provided by the Personal Finance Manager interface, helping users to understand what happened during a certain period in the past, uncover trends, and find opportunities for optimization. AR data visualization can improve the efficiency of financial trading by making the data available as a hologram that can be shared with others for faster and more collaborative decision-making. T

The analysis can also be proactive, helping customers improve their financial wellness: augmented data visualization will enable customers to run what-if scenarios, explore multiple choices and understand the implications of those decisions, in both the short and long term.


Enriching and Humanizing Marketing with XR

XR experiences are richer in data and customer insights, since they provide a multi-sensory experience, including vision, motion, touch, and even smell. While marketers will need to be careful on how they collect, share, and use customer information, there is an untapped potential for some enhanced insights.

For example, during my Ph.D. research in medical imaging, I used eye-tracking to gain a deeper understanding of how radiologists examine and diagnose radiology cases, what causes disruptions, and how to improve the user interface for radiology softcopy reading stations, to procure faster and more accurate readings.

Similarly, in the metaverse, technologies like eye-tracking, face recognition, and other biometric sensors (like heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) could provide insights into one’s VR experience. This will enable one to track user preferences, like to what a person is most drawn to, and can also capture their emotions and reactions. If used properly, with the best interest of the user in mind, this could lead to deeper levels of empathy and personalization.

Virtual product placement is a simulated artifact (product, service, or activity) that is added to the immersive world on behalf of a paying sponsor such that it appears to the user as an integrated element of the ambient environment. Such advertising can be extremely impactful because consumers will encounter the promotional content as organic experiences integrated into their daily lives. This is not a new concept, product placement is happening in movies, games, etc. The globally in-game advertising market is predicted to surpass $17 Billion and grow at an 11% CAGR from 2022 to 2030. These virtual product placements will be targeted at individual users, generating unique experiences for specific people at specific times and places.

Similarly, a virtual spokesperson is a simulated avatar (human or other animated characters) introduced into an immersive world to share promotional content on behalf of a paying sponsor, through the means of conversation with target users or with other simulated avatars. Virtual spokespeople are likely to target users in two distinct, but powerful ways – either (i) for passive observation or (ii) for direct engagement. In the passive case, a targeted user might observe two virtual people having a conversation in the metaverse about a product, service, or idea.

For example, a simulated couple could be placed near a targeted user in a virtual or augmented establishment. The user may assume these are ordinary users, just like themselves, not realizing that a third party has injected those virtual people into the environment as a subtle form of advertising.

For example, if you are (in a particular age and income group) looking to buy a car in the metaverse, you may browse through a variety of car options (product placements) that fit your profile. The metaverse may enable you to access information through augmented reality, like a product card, displaying attributes of the car, cost, and payment options. Additionally, a presence of a “simulated” couple (virtual spokesperson) could be produced and placed near you (the targeted car shopper) in the metaverse.

The influence of subliminal messaging will impact your behavior, without consciously realizing that it is implanted by a third party into the environment for the purpose of advertising. You, being the targeted user might overhear the couple discussing a recent car purchase, touting its features and benefits. You as the buyer, might perceive those comments as authentic views of other users and not as any agenda-driven promotional content.

Customers can also be engaged through XR “gamification” platforms, to educate people on financial topics, build healthy habits, and train them in new products and services. These tailored and augmented marketing channels can offer richer ways to build connections with customers, turning them into advocates and ambassadors for your brand, leading to higher levels of customer engagement and retention.

Augmented virtual assistants, currently provided as chatbots (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc.), will evolve in the metaverse to become your digital butler and will include customizable avatars, skins, behaviors, voice, and tone. Like J.A.R.V.I.S. (which stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), which represents an advanced computerized A.I. developed by Tony Stark (the Iron Man series). These augmented virtual assistants will be able to manage almost everything for you in the metaverse, especially matters related to technology.


XR and the metaverse enable leading financial institutions to elevate the experience that they provide for both, their members and their staff, by defining a strategy that brings to life richer and more integrated physical and digital experiences.


This includes solutions for the workforce of the future, which humanize digital interactions and improves collaboration, productivity, and creativity for hybrid teams. Building a culture of innovation and experimentation enables business agility and improves competitiveness.

Accessing virtual branches from the comfort of their homes connects them with financial experts from all over the world. An abundance of data, and the ability to identify and visualize complex information, providing richer customer insights, better-tailored experiences, and experiential marketing opportunities.

Are you a progressive organization?

Are you looking to build a culture of innovation?

Are you interested in using technology to craft remarkable experiences for your members and staff?

Do you want more resilience, differentiation, and growth?

We would be more than happy to organize a complimentary workshop to discuss your current status, objectives, and goals, and build a customized high-level strategy, and tailored-to-fit digital roadmap for you.

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