By Shubhangi Shah
Banking is already at your fingertips via mobile phones. The next technological leap promises to bring a human touch to the digital experience with virtual interactions in the metaverse. Like what Union Bank of India did on Friday by launching its Metaverse Virtual Lounge, through which customers can visit a bank without actually visiting the bank. As the bank’s chief technology officer (CTO), Rajiv Mishra, told FE: “You choose a digital avatar for yourself, walk into the bank’s lounge and access available banking services. Currently, we offer informational services through which customers can search for details of social security services, loans and other banking products,” adding that the service can be used both on computers and through virtual reality headsets.
With this, the bank joined international and foreign banks such as JP Morgan Chase, HSBC and South Korean bank Kookmin, which have already made strides in the metaverse.
Digital banking is set to gain momentum, which will not only enable remote access to services, but will add a personal touch, as explained by Rajesh Mirjankar, CEO of Kiyaverse, the first metaverse banking platform. from India. Launched by digital services company Kiya.ai last month, Kiyaverse has attracted strong interest from private and public sector banks and NBFCs (non-bank financial companies).
Highlighting what sets this new technology apart from existing ones, such as mobile banking, Mirjankar said, “While digital banking is functionally interdependent and inclusive, it is too often viewed as emotionally detached. The Metaverse enables banks to use state-of-the-art technology with a human touch that will greatly deepen and personalize the interaction with customers. This is an opportunity to restore lost dialogue in digital channels.
Sonali Kulkarni, head of financial services at Accenture India, agrees.
“In addition to its potential for product and service innovation in payments, investing, insurance and lending, the metaverse is an opportunity for banks to foster deeper customer connections,” he said. she said, adding, “It can help restore the in-person dialogues that are currently lacking in digital channels and help create memorable experiences for the next generation of banking customers, many of whom may never need to. enter a bank branch in their lifetime.
The Kiyaverse and Union Bank metaverse is working on similar technology lines involving virtual reality and digital avatars. Currently, Union Bank “is not entering the next phase where transactions and other services can be provided,” the bank’s CTO said, explaining that there are security and regulations that need to be taken care of.
Mirjankar also admits that the banking industry is still at a “nascent” stage in the metaverse and that banks need to consider adopting immersive technologies “for the future of business.”
Similarly, Kulkarni said that as the world moves forward, “banks in India must begin to assess their technological readiness for the metaverse, develop prototypes to help their employees understand its potential, and finally getting ready to scale these prototypes quickly.”
Emphasizing “trust”, she calls it “paramount” for the adoption of new experiences and that the metaverse must be developed with accountability at its core – regarding data ownership, security, inclusion and diversity, risk management and other parameters.
Speaking about the need for a talented and skilled workforce, she said: “Just as banks need to cultivate digital, data and cloud skills in their workforce to enable digital native business models, they will need to hire talent or develop skills for a metaverse-driven future. These include 3D artists, game designers, platform experts, and professionals with expertise in multiple blockchains.
Meanwhile, after being the first in India to jump into the metaverse, Union Bank’s CTO says other banks will soon be offering the same. “It’s only a matter of days. Today we did it, tomorrow you will find others,” he said.