USAA Offers Auto Loans Through Augmented Reality App

A demo and visualization of the augmented reality experience (via USAA)

USAA is piloting a car-buying augmented reality app, which allows consumers to scan cars on the road and apply for an auto loan from local inventory right on the spot, the bank announced Monday.

Augmented reality slowly crept into consumer’s lives whether it’s scanning a bedroom to visualize a new paint job, virtually placing new furniture in the living room, or catching Pokemon on the sidewalk. USAA believes the same trend will come to car buying.

A select 500 to 1,000 USAA customers are testing the app, which can recognize vehicles from the model year 2000 and up and use the phone’s location to notify users of local dealers that stock the specific vehicle. Once the vehicle is identified, USAA will offer insurance quotes and auto loan rates for a direct financing deal or the ability to refinance an existing auto loan.

Many consumers might see a vehicle on the street that they like and rather than going through a set of menus — new, used, make, model, year, trim — to find the car online this app enables an easier experience, said Patrick Kelly, USAA’s assistant vice president of emerging channels.

“We’re looking to actually make the digital experience more human-like and easier to engage with,” he said during an interview on Cheddar. “We chose this technology because it stripped away so much of the tapping and swiping on a screen.” 

The automotive industry is no stranger to augmented reality uses. During this year’s SXSW technology conference in March, Capital One announced an augmented reality feature for its Auto Navigator car buying platform that will similarly allow consumers to scan cars they see on the road and apply for financing.

Online car dealership Carvana acquired the Mark Cuban-backed augmented reality company Car360 earlier this year as it looks to incorporate the technology. There’s no shortage of apps that claim to help walk consumers through car repairs, and Edmunds has an app that will place a virtual car in a user’s garage to make sure it fits.

“Trends show that consumers are increasingly using digital channels to complete the entire car buying process,” Heather Pollard, vice president of USAA Auto Experience, said in a press release. “By testing this new augmented reality capability, we hope to transform and enhance our members’ experience by making it as easy as possible for them to access the information they want when they want it.”

Kelly said the pilot would end Nov. 1, at which time the company will evaluate it for its future business viability. 

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