Lately, I've see people clumped at street corners, on bridges, and in front of various businesses and landmarks ‒ basically all over the place ‒ with smartphones in hand. They're playing Pokémon Go. It seems to have taken the world by storm using something called augmented reality. Does this have potential beyond games? Could this become part of the payments universe? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The Pokémon Go craze has indeed taken the world by storm. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it is a free-to-play game for iOS and Android devices. The game employs GPS and device cameras to enable players to battle, capture and even train Pokémon, which are virtual creatures. On players' device screens, Pokémon appear as though they are in the real world. While the game is free, in-app purchases for items related to the game are offered.
Many have hypothesized about the degree to which augmented reality and gamification will impact financial services, including payments. It seems creating augmented reality games like Pokémon for marketing purposes will be far easier to do than mesh augmented reality and gamification into actual financial products and services. There are daunting technical hurdles and issues of compatibility to address.
However, in a guest opinion for The Financial Revolutionist, Marvin Chang, Global Head of Loans at First Data Corp. pointed out that success in this realm has already occurred. "Witness WeChat’s virtual red envelopes, which made a competitive, social game of the tradition of giving small sums of yuan," he wrote. "Over 8 billion envelopes were exchanged during the past lunar new year holiday, driving adoption of over 200 million WeChat wallets to make it a formidable competitor to wallet market-leader Alipay, all in a two year period. In a nutshell, the fun-quotient drove adoption. Imagine mastering your budget with Citémon? Refinancing your mortgage with Wélls Fargomon?"
It will be interesting to see where innovators in payments take augmented reality and gamification next.
Do you think augmented reality and gamification have a place in the payments industry? Let us know yea or nay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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