French Bank BNP Paribas Dives Into Virtual Reality With An App & A Pod

What Happened
French banking giant BNP Paribas is the latest company in the financial service sector to explore virtual reality as a tool to improve its customer experience. The Paris-based bank announced earlier this week that it will demo a branded VR app at the upcoming Viva Technology Fair in Paris, which will allow users to virtually access their account activity and transaction records.

In addition to the app, the real estate arm of BNP Paribas partnered with French startup Vectuel & RF Studio to develop “the POD,” a VR experience “capsule,” which aims to help customer visualize their real estate investments by offering virtual tours of the properties, some of which are still under construction, as well as a step-by-step guide through all the necessary steps of a real estate purchase.

What Brands Need To Do
The dubious necessity of a VR app for checking bank balances aside, BNP Paribas’ VR initiative is notable for the fact it is actually leveraging VR to enhance the service it provides for customers, unlike the experiential marketing approaches that banks like Citi and Wells Fargo have previously taken with branded VR content.

With a slew of VR headsets of various prices became available in the past 18 months, starting with the release of the consumer version of Oculus Rift in March 2016, consumer adoption of VR has been steadily on the rise, with an estimated 11.4 million U.S. consumers having purchased a VR headset by the end of 2016. As more and more consumers become accustomed to VR technologies, brands seeking to stay ahead of the curve will need to start developing a VR strategy and experimenting with VR to improve client experiences.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Bank Innovation

Featured image and video courtesy of BNPP Real Estate’s YouTube video

AmEx Brings Voice Banking To Alexa With Branded Skill

What Happened
American Express is the latest financial service to dive into voice banking with the release of its first Alexa skill. AmEx cardholders can search and sign in with their American Express online account to activate the skill, which allows customers to check their balances, access discounts and offers, pay bills, or hear about recent transactions, all delivered via voice through Alexa. For an added layer of security, users are also asked to create a four-digit PIN code that they will need to repeat every time they access their account via the skill.

What Brands Need To Do
As Amazon and their developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities, the Echo is becoming an increasingly business-friendly platform for brands to connect with consumers via a conversational interface. As Amazon continues to expand the Echo lineup and push for Alexa integrations into third-party devices, brands need to take a proactive approach and create an Alexa skill in order to connect with customers at home.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Fortune

More Financial Services Come To Facebook Messenger

What Happened
Facebook Messenger is about to get a lot better at handling your money, as five major financial services launched or upgraded their services on Facebook’s popular messaging app in tandem with Facebook’s F8 event. On Tuesday, Western Union and MoneyGram both launched Facebook Messenger bots for handling cash transfers, while Wells Fargo announced it is testing a Facebook Messenger bot for basic banking tasks such as checking account balances and transferring between accounts. In addition, Mastercard also announced that its Masterpass online payment service will power select Messenger bots, allowing them to take payment from MasterCard, as well as from banks like Citi and Capital One.

What Brands Need To Do
Last fall, Facebook rolled out the Messenger Payments API, which works with services like PayPal to add payment support to chatbots. Now with more and more banks and financial services getting on Messengers, customers will have increasingly convenient access to their money without leaving the chat app, which, in turn, would accustom them to the idea of buying stuff on Messenger and open the door for conversational commerce. As the online banking experience continues to evolve from a website-based experience to modular service integrations on popular platforms, banks and financial service brands will need to adapt to the changing consumer habits by developing conversational experiences to allow easy access and management.  

For more news on what Facebook announced at this year’s F8 developer conference, please check out our latest Fast Forward analysis.


Source: VentureBeat

Singapore Bank Develops Chatbot To Handle Banking Tasks Via Text

What Happened
Singaporean bank DBS wants customers to handle their common banking tasks by texting a chatbot. Available via text and soon on WeChat and Whatsapp, the chatbot uses natural language processing to understand customers’ requests and carries out transactions as commanded. DBS says the SMS bot was created in partnership with U.S.-based Kasisto, a spin-off of SRI International, the company that created Siri.

What Brands Need To Do
DBS Bank’s chatbot serves as a user-friendly banking tool that caters to mobile users’ increasing usage and fondness of messaging apps. As branded bots are poised to become a crucial tool, brands should consider developing bots to reach customers on messaging apps that are popular among mobile users. For more information on this topic, check out our Medium post on branded chatbots.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about building chatbots. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Mashable


Capital One Customers Can Now Bank With Alexa

What Happened
Alexa keeps getting smarter as it adds basic banking to its long list of skills today. Capital One announced at SXSW the integration of its banking app with Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. The new skill allows users of Alexa-enabled devices to ask Alexa to check their account balances, review recent transactions, and even pay their bills with pre-linked accounts. All they need to do is to enable the skill in the Alexa mobile app, then link Alexa with Capital One accounts.

What Brands Need To Do
As Amazon and their developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities, the Echo is becoming an increasingly business-friendly platform for brands to connect with consumers via a conversational interface. As Amazon expands the Echo family and makes push for Alexa integrations, brands will need to be proactive in getting on board with those devices via deep integrations or partnerships.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new rules of discovery, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: The Verge

Why Banks Are Launching Their Own Payment Apps

What Happened
The next big competitor for Apple Pay may not be Android Pay or Samsung Pay after all. Instead, It could be one of the homegrown mobile payment solutions some banks are developing. Last week, Capital One added a new mobile payment feature to its Android app, becoming the first U.S. bank to release tap-to-pay functionality in mobile app. Likewise, earlier today Chase introduced its digital wallet service named Chase Pay, which allows users to pay with a QR code within the Chase Pay app. Chase partnered with MCX, the consortium of retailers led by Walmart, to get Chase Pay accepted in MCX’s member stores, where the Chase customers will have to use Chase Pay inside the CurrentC app instead. Chase Pay is said to be aiming for a mid-2016 launch.

Market Impact
Banks have long enjoyed a stranglehold on payment solutions, either with cash or cards. They faced some challenges from digital payment solutions such as PayPal, but have remained largely unfazed in monopolizing the way people make purchases in the real world. But the recent rise of mobile payment, made viable by the proliferation of smartphones and kickstarted by the introduction of Apple Pay last year, has threatened to undercut banks’ market dominance in consumer payments. Therefore, it’s no surprise that some banks are now scrambling to come up with their own mobile payment solutions, despite their low profit margins. However, if Chase Pay’s confusing UX design, complicated by its affiliation with MCX, is any indication, the banks still have a long way to go before their products can truly compete with the likes of Apple Pay.


Source: Re/Code