Metaverse is finding use-cases in banking to govt offices. Here is an interview with Easiofy CTO, Noor Fatma on the need for Metaverse to have multilingual Meta avatar and an opportunity to be more inclusive.
Can you define the metaverse capabilities for India’s banking industry?
With the Metaverse in the banking industry, the engagement between the banks and customers can be in a variety of ways. We can change the chemistry between banks and customers from serious and complex to fun and simple.
For most of us who are working, from Monday to Friday, it’s tough to take out time to go to a physical bank for getting things done. With the Metaverse, a customer can visit the virtual bank from anywhere anytime. Once in the virtual bank, the customer can do almost all the transactions that he can do in a physical branch for example, check his account balance, make payments, apply for loans, get advice on investments and the list grows.
What are the gaps you are trying to fulfill through meta avatar
Bank websites are difficult to navigate and operate.
With Meta avatars, we aim to provide everyone visiting the virtual branch a personal assistant to help them in having a seamless banking experience.
So, you visit a virtual bank, you are greeted with a reception meta avatar who guides you to the appropriate counters, savings counter or loan counter. Now if you want to check your account balance, there is a savings counter meta avatar who takes in your info,verifies if it’s really you and tells you your balance. And the most important thing is, there are no queues.
You are always first in line. We are trying to make avatars as real as possible. In future, they might look exactly like the bank employees, with the exact same gestures and accents.
What are the use cases you are trying to achieve?
The first use cases we are trying to achieve are those that are most frequently used, checking balance, making a transaction, getting information on loans, educating the customer. We will keep implementing the existing use cases as offered by digital banking as well as physical banking.
Why a multilingual avatar?
We cannot make something in one language and assume the whole world is comfortable with it. Diversity is the first thing that we are taught in civics in school. And diversity of language is the biggest one that we can notice all around us. According to the census of 2001, India has 122 major languages, 1599 other languages. Now after realising this, how can anyone make any application in a single language and be content. Internet has reached most parts of India and so to make our product useful, we need to support as many languages as possible.
Why Reverie, please explain in detail the languages use cases?
We needed speech functionality for our avatars and Reverie has excellent products in Natural Language Processing. Also, Reverie was already doing a multilingual customer care support use case. So we just had to integrate it into our virtual banks.
With Reverie we have gone live with our multilingual avatar in 12 Indian languages.
How are the engines trained / what is the backhaul maturity that is required for a multilingual avatar?
Most of the requirements are the same as any NLU use case requirements. The only extra thing that we require is we must know when the avatar should show the gestures of speech and when to keep the mouth shut, literally. So that functionality needs to be added to the backend.
What do you think are the limitations for metaverse for India’s banking industry?
Indian market is very sensitive to cost. Also, we cannot expect everyone to have fancy VR headsets to visit a virtual bank. Keeping that in mind, we have made a browser based Bank Metaverse. You just need a link to visit it on your phones, tablets, VR headsets, desktops. Also, scaling to a large customer base has been kept in mind.
The future roadmap
We have a lot of work to do. We are working on avatars expressions and gestures. In future, instead of avatars, we will be using human holograms to make the Metaverse more real world like. Also, we have plans to host it on blockchain.
The banking metaverse is essentially a step above net-banking through which one can avail the same services with much more personalised touch and enhanced data visualization. What is the value-add beyond user experience? Banking metaverse has to answer this for wider adoption.
With the metaverse we have the opportunity to make right what is wrong with the current digital world. Metaverse can be used to build inclusive communities with greater acceptance of diverse people.
One example is language, the other is race. In addition to multilingual avatars,we can have avatars representing the underrepresented communities and see how the customers feel more comfortable and accepted. So it’s just not user experience, we are here to define how we are going to address prejudices and reach a wider audience.
What’s the future of digital banking, physical banks and Metaverse
We see a future with the convergence of all three. Nothing will become redundant but will evolve with each other. The learnings in one will be applied to the other two. The only difference would be in ownership of data and information. People are becoming more and more aware of their right to privacy. With Metaverse and blockchain, we can provide them exactly with what they want. The traditional systems have to become more immersive and friendly to co-exist with the Metaverse.
[This interview has been published in partnership with Reverie]