My favourite aspect of augmented reality (AR) is how it blurs the distinction between the physical and digital worlds. I was asked as part of an innovation exercise to develop a rapid prototype of how AR could apply to banking.

To children, receiving pocket money to a bank account just isn’t as tangible as receiving cash (though this may be changing through increased exposure to digital devices and gamification!). Younger children also tend to prioritise coins based on the physical size of the coin, rather than the monetary value (for example, the Australian 50 cent coin compared with the 2 dollar).


To children, a bank account balance in an app is simply not engaging. So how can we help connect children with the digital world of banking, and good saving habits?

My creation was an Augmented Reality Piggy Bank, which aims to engage children with digital banking.

The piggy bank would be connected to the child’s account, and the child is able to see a visual representation of their bank balance (how “full” it is).

The parents would help set savings goals, and these would be reached when the piggy bank is completely full. Math education games could also be integrated, through counting and addition games, when the child wishes to put coins in the piggy bank. Computer vision would be used to recognise the coins, and the child would need to do maths to enter the total, which then is recorded and the piggy bank’s balance changes

Tie ins to retailers such as eBay would also be possible, where the child browses for a small savings goal, and an interactive 3D model of the toy could be imported. This could be an action figure which walks around their table, or a car that they can drive within the app!

Research from the report “Millenials, Mobiles and Money” by Telstra and Rocky Scopelliti, shows that people are unlikely to change financial institutions, and tend to remain with the bank their parents choose for them. This was shown through the success of the “Dollarmites” program, run by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This application would be similar focussed on long term engagement and conversion to higher value products into the future such as home loans. The average home loan generates around $80,000 across the lifetime of the loan, meaning even a small uplift in customer retention can generate significant return on investment.

The application was generated using Unity (a game engine) and Vuforia (a AR plugin). The piggy bank was 3D printed, and made to be the exact same size as the 3D model in the app. Combined with a transparency layer, this made it possible for the piggy bank to become “see through”. The buttons were physical buttons that you had to touch with your hand- the app would recognise when these were pushed, and toggle the visibility of the piggy bank. This was quite interesting over traditional UI buttons.

This was a fantastic project, and it was great to see how the digital and physical world could come together to better engage children with digital banking.