Samsung, HSBC Team Up for Wearable Devices at the Bank Level

October 25, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

For a while, wearable tech was top of the heap. Some were even looking for wearable devices to become the next smartphone. That future did not pan out, and most wearable devices became little more than extensions of smartphones. However, there have been some signs of wearables making a comeback, as exemplified by Samsung and HSBC, who teamed up for a new bank branch-based wearable device.

The Samsung / HSBC effort will bring Samsung Gear S3 watches to HSBC bank employees at its Fifth Avenue flagship location. The actual function of the watches will be geared toward bank employees as opposed to customers, but it will have an impact on customer service. For instance, the watches can alert employees to the time of a meeting with a customer.

The system is built around a few basic caveats; one, it needs to be self-supporting, so it runs on LTE signals rather than the bank’s Wi-Fi. Second, it needs to be immediately capable of accessing necessary information at the right time. Third, it needs to use Samsung’s KNOX security system, which it does.

The end result is what’s called a “phygital” program, a portmanteau of “physical” and “digital” that adds up to a better customer experience. Since customers have proved over the years that they still want the physical bank branch experience despite plenty of movement to digital options.

There are certainly strange points to this test. The tested field here is shockingly limited, and the time frame for the test not only covers comparatively short span of time—a little over two months, and the last two of this year besides—but also a span of time that will feature probably the most bank holidays and closures of any two month span. This covers Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and doesn’t even mention any employee time off for traveling. Worse, it’s for branch employees only, so many of the bank’s most useful applications aren’t even in play.

Wearable devices can be an excellent idea when it comes to banking. Mobile payments have historically benefited from this technology as well. This time, though, things don’t look like they’ll go too far.