The metaverse: the early days of a new digital world
The digital world offers myriad opportunities. It is becoming an increasingly popular trend to embrace the metaverse: more and more companies are taking the step to the new, if somewhat scary, digital world. At Sibos 2022, the metaverse and the possibilities of this expansive new world were discussed and detailed. During the Sibos session 'Metaverse: journey or destination?', David Birch, principal of 15Mb, and Paul Clarke, independent advisor Lateralleap Limited, gathered to discuss and exchange views on the development and chances of success of the metaverse.
For many, the metaverse is still a vague container term. Modern gamers might have better insight of what the concept might look like, owing to the ability in gaming to be immersed in a digital space thanks to innovations such as virtual reality (VR) headsets. These same headsets will also support users of the metaverse in discovering products and services, buying products, attending concerts and a whole lot more. It is seen as the successor to the internet in its current form. Web 3.0, as it is called, is more interactive. It redefines social interaction and enables you to communicate and interact directly with consumers about products and services. The evolution of the internet and digital spaces stands as a fascinating development for both customers and sellers.
Suppose the metaverse becomes increasingly popular among consumers. This will lead to a greater part of their lives taking place online. From working in a digital office to holidays on a stress-free island. Or perhaps virtually going to concerts while lying on the couch will become the new way to experience music. To many, it sounds like an odd future, but the metaverse could potentially add between $8 trillion and $13 trillion according to a recent study of the Deutsche Bank to global GDP within a decade. This would mean that the evolution of the metaverse must match that of mobile technology.
Bullocks or new reality
Is it ‘bullocks’ or not? This was the openings question at the Sibos session. If the metaverse were a thing or destination, we would return to seeing the book '1984' as reality, which believes that in the future, technology will be increasingly used to make everything more efficient and to ensure maximum security. But if the metaverse is a journey, where are we going?
Looking at the rate of development and the ever-increasing range of services and new technologies in the virtual space, there is no question that the metaverse has great potential and that these are the early days of the new universe. So as a bank, you need to pursue multiple strategies: be present in the new world, offer consumers opportunities to make transactions and develop new services.
The question ‘bullocks versus reality’ remains. But if you compare this innovation to those of the late nineties, at the time, nobody knew if the internet was a hype or would truly become the new reality that it now is. The same goes for the metaverse. It's hard to say how it will appear in ten or twenty years. A more recent digital ‘revolution’ from which we can draw potential outcomes is Second Life. A great digital future was expected from the game, but after the initial hype, it eventually was not so successful. The metaverse, however, could be a real shift in how we shop, transact and live. But that metaverse is not a world unto itself. Rather, it is a concatenation of all the existing different worlds, connected to each other and to the physical world. The big question is how users will interact with this new channel and what kind of rules will apply in the new digital world.
Worldline in the world of the metaverse
Worldline stands as one of the first payment companies that have plunged fully into the world of the metaverse with the launch of a dedicated virtual showroom, located in Decentraland in the Crypto Valley area. Since March of this year, anyone taking a virtual walk through Decentraland can visit Worldline’s virtual showroom, where customers can order real products and companies are able to launch new products. Afterwards, coffee and conversations await in the virtual Worldline coffee space.
As innovation is part of Worldline’s DNA, we welcome digital payment initiatives and believe in the potential of the metaverse. That’s why, in the case of Worldline, everything is connected to the Worldline payment engine. A user can buy a product in the VR world and pay for it with Worldline crypto payment and traditional payment options. It’s also possible to make donations and support charity projects. Ultimately, the product or donation will be delivered in the real world. It is a win-win for both customers and companies. And that's a big difference that sets the metaverse apart from online digital life simulators such as Second Life. Ultimately, these are only games – the metaverse can be a reality.
The metaverse is real. People can walk within it, talk to each other, shop, play games and visit virtual presentations and shows. But there are few concrete answers to some of the more intriguing questions. What will it look like ten years from now? Will it have grown to the levels suggested? Will it still exist in 2050? No one can know or accurately predict, but if it's still growing, perhaps it's better to be part of this journey, even if the destination may be unknown.