The metaverse is a 3D integrated network of virtual worlds that is increasingly attracting the attention of major corporations looking to make a digital appearance in front of billions.
Through augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR), users can create their own digital avatars to interact with each other in different worlds without leaving their homes. These worlds can immerse users in anything from gaming to social networking and beyond.
Anybody with a computer and internet connection can explore the metaverse, though many use VR headsets for full immersion. There are several different “worlds,” also called platforms, in the metaverse that users can enter, such as Decentraland, The SandBox, and CryptoVoxels. Each platform offers a different type of experience for users, and thus attracts different companies wanting to establish their presence. For example, The SandBox offers users more opportunities to build, play, and monetize their experiences, while Decentraland is geared toward users wanting to buy, sell, and trade virtual real estate plots.
With an approximated 1.07 billion users in 2022, the opportunities to meet consumers in the metaverse are only growing. Consumer brands like Chipotle, Gucci, Nike, and more, are already establishing their presence in the metaverse, allowing users to interact with their virtual products in a variety of ways.
Some games and applications even allow users to earn virtual currency (or cryptocurrency in some cases), to be spent on virtual products such as clothing and accessories for their avatars, plots of virtual land, or even NFTs. The opportunities in the metaverse are vast, and customizable to every user.
With all the opportunities the metaverse presents, real-world education seems to have taken a back seat. For example, in the platform “Roblox,” players (typically ages 9-15) can participate in a game called “Bloxburg,” where they purchase their own homes, establish careers, earn paychecks, own vehicles, and pay bills, yet have no financial institution to organize their funds through, or even the foundational knowledge to handle their currency. Budgeting, loans, and savings accounts are non-existent, even as they receive paychecks, pay electricity bills, and invest in new furniture for their virtual homes.
Financial institutions have a unique opportunity to enter the metaverse and supply financial education, financial well-being, brand awareness, and even employee training.
How is the Metaverse Being Used?
Although the metaverse has a strong reputation for gaming, it is not always in the traditional sense, and there are many other ways for users to participate.
There are tons of “hangout” spaces in the metaverse, with uses such as business meetings and conferences, concerts and other events, virtual museums (with NFTs on display), and more. In these open worlds, users can meet with each other either fully immersed with virtual reality headsets, or just on a computer screen.
Virtual Investing & Cryptocurrency
Metaverse users can invest in virtual land, NFTs (such as avatar clothing and accessories), and more.
Some spaces in the metaverse offer cryptocurrency as incentives for game play or participation, which users then store in their digital wallets and use however they please.
Shopping & Branded Game Play
Chipotle launched a game in the metaverse called “Burrito Builder” and ran a promotion on National Burrito Day in 2022 which married the metaverse with reality.
The simulation experience challenges players to roll burrito orders to earn in-game currency (dubbed “Burrito Bucks”), of which the first 100,000 players to earn enough were able to redeem for a real burrito via the Chipotle app.
Similarly, Gucci created Gucci Town in the metaverse, a luxurious virtual world for users to explore, shop, and learn about the brand’s origins in a played story.
Union Bank of India recently launched a virtual lounge in the metaverse, where people can enter the lounge to access available banking services such as social security, loans, and other banking products, as if they were physically in a branch.
Other banks that have made an appearance in the metaverse but are not necessarily offering full banking services (yet), are JPMorgan Chase and HSBC.
With limitless uses for the metaverse and more people logging on every day, financial institutions have a unique opportunity to enter this digital space to establish a presence and educate their consumers.
See “How the Metaverse Can Help with Financial Education: Part 2" on September 14, 2022.
Want to learn more? Our Blockchain Learning Series provides in-depth examples of blockchain, the metaverse, and how they relate to modern banking.
Hear more on the metaverse in person at FTSI's ExCITE 2022 - Into the Metaverse event, December 2nd 2022 in Monrovia, CA.