It’s finally here. Apple Watch shipped to its earliest adopters for its much anticipated Friday, April 24 product launch. Be mindful that only a handful of people will receive the much-hyped Apple Watch in this first wave, but it is the start of what many think will be a game changer in the wearable computing space.  Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that while demand for Apple Watch had far exceeded supply, the company was “working hard to remedy that”.

So it appears that there’s demand for the new Apple Watch.  It’s also understood that there are a multitude of apps ready for the new device (3500 accordingly to Tim Cook on Apple’s recent earnings call).These dates point lead to the bigger, and much more ambiguous question; just how will the Apple Watch and it’s army of apps be used?  It ranges from the extreme, such as Men’s Fitness recent article entitled “Will the Apple Watch Save Your Life?”, to smartphone staples like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

A real area of interest, but not yet fully understood, is the practical business application of the Apple Watch; especially in the realm of mobile banking.  As a recent American Banker article put it, the Apple Watch “will either catapult wearable computers into the mainstream or meet the same indifference as other interactive objects”.

As of mid-March, Citigroup’s app was the only banking app for the Apple Watch (although others state that their offering is in the works) and offers limited interactive functionality. Most of the capabilities allow you to view account balances and most recent transactions, but do not provide ATM locators –  which is one of the most commonly used mobile banking features.  Much of this functionality is reminiscent of the early days of the internet (i.e., World Wide Web) and smartphones, which limited the way a user could interact with a device. Instead, users were often limited to simply having information displayed.

In order to fully take advantage of this new technology and the capabilities offered, banks should look for innovative ways to seamlessly become part of the user’s banking experience.  This, of course, is much more simple to say than do (remember Apple’s iPay launch?). Interfacing with existing systems and infrastructure will be critical. Also critical is ensuring security of these core banking systems as they have a new access points around the world.

There is real opportunity to innovate and improve customer service through wearable computing technologies. The real question will be who will be first to lead and change the banking landscape?

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