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April 7, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:30am

Stock trading goes virtual as Citi banks on Microsoft VR

News: Aim is to help traders deal with large volumes of data.

By James Nunns

The disruptive impact of technology in the financial services market has resulted in increased pressure on banks to find new ways to innovate and deploy the latest tech such as Virtual Reality.

Although VR may not be the first technology that comes to mind when thinking about improving the world of stock trading, this is the technology that Citi has been testing out to help better show and understand the large amounts of data that traders deal with.

Typically traders deal with a large volume of data on standard flat screens but Citi has been trying out Microsoft’s HoloLens holographic headset by building a virtual workstation that lets traders view data as 3D images.

The development of the virtual workstation has been done by 8ninths, a virtual reality design studio. The studio’s Holographic Workstation allows users to see a three-tiered system of dynamically updated and interactive information.

8ninths VR

Market conditions are displayed as holographic spheres that hover above the workstation at the highest level, much like a weather system. Traders are then able to use hand gestures and voice commands to drill down further into market segments and filter financial instruments to trade in the middle tier.

A ‘Holographic Stage’ makes up the lowest tier of the workstation and allows traders to view historical and real-time performance before then executing a trade. It also allows for remote collaboration with others in the room.

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Although HoloLens isn’t yet for sale, the bank is planning to get the system into the hands of some traders when it is.

Stuart Riley, global head of technology for markets and securities services at Citi said it sees: "great potential for this technology to enhance and humanise the next-generation markets trading working environment."

Traders may not be the only ones getting their hands on VR and augmented reality kit as it may apply the technology to other areas such as wealth management.

Wells Fargo is another bank that has been looking at VR, testing out whether customers could use an Oculus Rift headset to virtually walk into a bank branch and talk to the staff. Another idea has customers wearing Google Glass in conjunction with the Wells Fargo banking app to scan products in store in order to see whether or not the items fit into their monthly budget.

These are scenarios that the bank is trying out at its technology innovation lab in San Francisco and while many of these proof of concepts may never see the light of day, some will and they could dramatically change how people bank.

Some banks are showing that they are not willing to sit back and be left behind by technology trends that could become the next big thing. Increasingly banks have come under pressure from more agile, cloud-based challengers, this has resulted in banks shifting strategies to invest more in technological innovation.

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