Westpac’s premature Google Glass app

Officially no-one in New Zealand should have a Google Glass device. The wearable computer isn’t on sale here and enthusiasts who want to buy one ahead of it being available find themselves bumping against barriers.

And yet Westpac says it is trialling its Cash Tank app on Google Glass. It says the app will be available in New Zealand when the product does go on sale later this year.

Clearly there’s some positioning here. Westpac wants to be seen as innovative and up with the play. Yet talking now about software for a device that isn’t on sale and is highly questionable smacks of desperation, like the kid who tries too hard to be cool.

In the press release Westpac chief digital officer, Simon Pomeroy says: “By the end of this year our customers will be able to walk into a shop wearing their Google Glasses, see something they like and instantly check their bank balance which will be displayed in their peripheral vision – that’s pretty cool”.

Or not.

This worries me because Glass is controversial and unproven. It appeals to a certain creepy geek demographic. It may fail – risky new devices often do. At best less than one percent of Westpac customers will have Google Glass this year – probably a lot less than one percent.

So what is Westpac doing spending money on developing apps for such a tiny niche? Is that cool or reckless.

Sure, Westpac’s online banking software is massively improved, but it’s not perfect. I’d rather see the bank spend its development time and money getting the basics right and not playing around with Glass.