Is the metaverse merely a fad or a technology that banks should be embracing? Are virtual offices a necessary resource to ensuring future relevance?
The metaverse is a trend that in recent years has gained traction in many sectors and the financial sector was by no means left behind; its aim is to capture the attention of younger customers to accompany them throughout their lives on their financial journey in exchange for innovation and trust, according to the article Banking In The Metaverse – The Next Frontier For Financial Services, published by Forbes.
With an estimated economic impact of around $5 trillion by 2030, the impact on profits that banks could achieve by committing to investments in money and assets between the digital and physical world is clear.
Pioneers of virtual offices in the metaverse
As more and more physical bank branches close their doors, it makes sense for banks to explore new ways of selling their products and services by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by technology, such as virtual branches. Saxo, the Danish investment bank, opened its virtual office in 2007 within Linden Labs’ Second Life with the features of the metaverse as we know it today. These new channels can act as an excellent resource to improve the customer experience for both new, digitally native consumers and their existing customers, who may sooner or later migrate over to the metaverse.
When it comes to younger users, they show a natural willingness to consider doing business with companies that share their interest in the digital world. From platforms in the metaverse such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, which attract thousands of users every month, to gaming-focused platforms such as Fornite, which is visited by millions of users worldwide.
British multinational banking and financial services company HSBC was one of the first to create a virtual office in The Sandbox with the aim of interacting with e-gaming fans. “At HSBC, we see great potential to create new experiences through emerging platforms, opening up a world of opportunity for our current and future customers and the communities we serve”, says Suresh Balaji, CMO for the Asia Pacific region.
On the other hand, US banking giant JP Morgan Chase already has a presence on the Decentraland platform with a virtual office called Onyx which provides information about blockchain and other technology initiatives that the bank is involved with.
“The metaverse will allow banks to interact and build strong relationships with customers in a new environment in addition to the existing channels in order to meet their expectations. More importantly, being more digital means gaining positioning and competitiveness against digital natives and ensuring their leadership in the financial industry,” says Oriol Ros, Director of Corporate Development at Latinia.
The Spanish group CaixaBank has shown its interest in this new environment by signing an innovation agreement with Microsoft which aims to promote the use of artificial intelligence in innovative financial solutions in the metaverse. Its Portuguese subsidiary, BPI, has just opened the group’s first virtual reality office.
“BPI VR is a 3D, fully immersive, virtual branch with various business areas and sectors (individuals, private banking, corporate banking, youth (AGE) and sustainability) that provides access to the content of banking services by using the VR headset by Meta (Facebook). Customers will be able to walk through the branch’s two floors, learn more about BPI’s offering (simulators for savings products, mortgages and personal loans, among others) and enjoy entertainment features, such as a virtual minigolf game”, informs CaixaBank in the statement BPI, CaixaBank’s Portuguese subsidiary, enters the metaverse and opens the Group’s first virtual reality bank branch on its website.
“The progress that CaixaBank, one of our clients, is making in the metaverse is a big step for the group in proving its ability to identify and adopt new trends in the financial sector,” explains Oriol Ros. “The first fintech in Europe with a presence in the metaverse was CaixaBank’s Imagin, a digital services platform that offers immersive experiences through imaginLAND, and now, with BPI taking its first steps in the metaverse, it is consolidating its position as a pioneer in the reformulation of financial services,” he adds.