Nationwide launches smartwatch banking capabilities

Nationwide customers are now able to check their bank balance on smartwatches

Nationwide customers are now able to check their bank balance on smartwatches if they have already downloaded the building society’s mobile banking app.

The firm partnered with IBM to develop a system to allow Android Wear users to perform banking tasks on their wearables. The smartwatch will connect to the mobile banking app to provide users with real-time updates of their balance.

The new features were developed in the Front Office Innovation Centre, which was set up by IBM and Nationwide to find new ways to provide customers with the building society's services.

Nationwide chief operating officer Tony Prestedge said the system provides customers with more choice.

“Giving those members who have the technology the ability to check their balance on their watch provides them with even more choice as to how they interact with us – whether it is online, through an app, face to face or over the phone,” he said.

Nationwide has been working on many different ways to engage with members. The building society recently launched an app to provide customers with instant rewards and vouchers, and became the first finance firm to offer the digital wallet, in conjunction with Visa.

Financial services providers are increasingly realising how technology can be used to help them become more agile and customer-focussed, according to Nationwide programme director at IBM Global Business Services for the UK and Ireland David Terry.

"Wearable technology has the ability to provide customers with the flexibility they crave to manage finances in a more lifestyle-oriented way,” he said.  

Nationwide launched its mobile banking service in 2012 as a result of its massive five-year £1bn IT transformation. The project saw the building society upgrade its datacentre, outsource its IT for the first time, and implement Microsoft technology in the front office and SAP at the back office.

The firm launched its 24-hour service to address customer questions via Twitter in March 2014 in an effort to provide consumers with new ways to manage their money.

IBM also recently partnered with Apple to develop applications designed to offer enterprise mobility.

In October 2014, Apple announced its digital mobile wallet Apple Pay will be available for use with its new smartwatch – the Apple Watch – when it is released in 2015.

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