When banks try the adventure of the metaverse

Published April 28, 2022, 12:00 p.m.Updated April 28, 2022, 3:30 p.m.

Gradually, the banks come into play. Standard Chartered announced this week that the metaworld is beginning. The British group has acquired a digital plot on the platform “The Sandbox”, a publisher of video games and one of the most used virtual spaces, along with Decentraland and Roblox.

“Our commitment will allow us to rethink our relationships with our current and future customers and bring new experiences,” said Mary Huen, general manager of the bank’s Hong Kong subsidiary, in a press release.

Thanks to this initiative, Standard Chartered joins other big names in the field of finance, which have recently plunged into the deep end of the metaverse. Even if at this stage their intentions remain rather vague.

Pioneer of JPMorgan

Earlier this year, through its cryptocurrency subsidiary Onyx, JPMorgan opened a lounge on the Decentraland virtual platform, where avatars can walk around, admire a portrait of boss Jamie Damon, and receive information about the bank and its blockchain. initiatives.

HSBC also positioned itself on this topic, buying a site on the “Sandbox” in March last year. Spanish Caixa also opened a virtual cafe on Decentraland a few weeks ago through its digital subsidiary Imagin. Korean banks are finally leading the way.

After technology giants, luxury brands and clothing brands, it is the turn of finance to take an interest in these new virtual and exciting worlds, which are the prototype of Internet 3.0. It is not a question of withdrawing money or taking a loan from a virtual agency.

French banks are retreating

“Applications are very limited. Metauniverse is still a laboratory for the few banks that dare to go there, and at the moment it is more of a marketing strategy than an industrial reality, ”said Alain Clotte, President of France Fintech. Analysts remain skeptical about the sector’s growth drivers.

Some French players still position themselves. Fintech Kard, which offers bank accounts for teenagers, has just announced its entry into the Sandbox. In insurance, AXA bought a plot on the Hong Kong platform in February.

But the big French banks have not yet decided. “There is a certain reluctance on their part because they do not see direct interest,” said Thomas Rocaful, deputy director of Sia Partners. It’s a pity, because the bonus for the first step can be decisive. “

Bank managers, however, are attentive to the topic, some have even tried to organize meetings in these virtual worlds. But without going further. The risks inherent in this universe, which remains associated with the cryptocurrency environment and currently remains poorly regulated, may repel more than one banker.

Prospects in payment

“You should not wait too long, because, as always with innovation, there is a learning curve that can take time, but warns Alain Clot. It’s also a way to show your ability to embrace new technologies, new trends and thus attract new talent. “

The pioneers of the metaworld are convinced that the development of these virtual worlds will be financed. In a recent report, JPMorgan asserts that the success of the metauniverse “depends on the existence of a secure and flexible financial ecosystem that will allow users to seamlessly connect between the physical and virtual worlds.”

“In the medium term, we can introduce a new distribution channel with virtual agencies,” explains Thomas Rocaful. In the short term, banks need to play a role in payments as transactions grow in this universe. They must not allow themselves to be oppressed. “

Meanwhile, banks have decided to use the vein in terms of investment issues. In parallel with joining the Sandbox, HSBC offers its wealthy Asian clients the opportunity to invest in a portfolio of assets related to the metaworld. BNP Paribas Wealth Management also listed the metaworld as one of the five major investment topics for 2022.