Welcome to the Metaverse. “The Meta what?” I hear you cry. First, you casually slip in Web 3; now we have to get our heads around the Metaverse. Does it really Meta???
Web 3 and Metaverse were terms heavily bandied around the press in 2022, but to Joe Public, they didn’t really have any meaning. They were simply words with no relevance, lavishly displayed in the media for the pleasure of the geeky tech sector, living somewhere in a far-flung Silicone Valley land. Worlds and words apart from the lingo you or I would use or come across in daily life.
Well, to every Joe, Tom, Dick, and Harry out there, I’m afraid to say that the terms Web 3 and Metaverse will become as commonplace as ‘fish and chips’ in 2023, but as I found out, understanding them won’t be quite as easy to digest.
Luckily, at BEAM Fieldwork, we are encouraged to delve further into exciting new territories and sectors, and the boss will happily fund training for those who thirst to learn, and so armed with some knowledge about crypto and NFTs due to a stint in tech PR, I bravely decided to immerse in the ‘Verse’ by joining a virtual webinar event hosted by the Market Research Society.
For an entire day, the world’s biggest brands discussed how they are looking to pioneer in the metaverse and explore what these futuristic digital utopias will offer, not just for businesses, but for humanity as a whole.
Always ahead of the digital curve, banking giant Lloyds presented their ideas for the future of personal banking.
Unfortunately, post-pandemic, we have all witnessed the demise of the traditional, local branch and the personable, friendly managers everyone knew.
The coveted personal touch of old has been replaced with infuriating AI bot chat assistants who are as much assistance as a chocolate fireguard. Instead of an inviting, warm welcome, banking is now clinically and coldly conducted online with bricks-and-mortar locations a distant memory.
Many families across the land will also have had the exasperating chore during the lockdown of trying to teach Grandma how to use a banking app in this new but confusing digital age.
So, what is Lloyds dream for the future of finance? And how do they think the Metaverse could help? Well, their vision is a cashless future where Lloyds branches will be hosted in the Metaverse. You won’t need to get a bus to deposit a cheque; you’ll need an Oculus Rift headset (pop it on Grandma’s Christmas list now!!!)
And as for cheques, they are already a relic of eras gone by, remembered, and revered like the BT phone book but sadly deemed useless. At least you can still use Yellow Pages as a stepladder!!
Speeding into the limelight, are the new financial vehicles of the future, namely cryptocurrency and NFTs. Virtual 24-hour branches will be packed with money-minded avatars acting as digital depictions of flesh-and-blood account holders.
Although the promise of no queues and 24-hour banking without leaving your front room may sound appealing, Lloyds raised some very valid questions during the webinar. How do they ensure security and authenticity in a virtual bank when proof of identity is paramount to providing their services?
As I am constantly relaying to a Roblox-obsessed 7-year-old daughter, not everyone is who they say they are in these futuristic worlds, making them highly dangerous. Buying a house in Roblox is decidedly cheaper than purchasing plots of virtual land in the latest media grabbing metaverse, but still monetary mistakes made in either could prove to be fatal to your financial existence in the physical world.
For example, when considering the fundamentals of banking in the metaverse, how will customers tell who is real when all they have to trust with their transaction is an avatar? Would you give your hard-earned cash to the cunning Coyote from the old Looney Tunes cartoons? Unless you have the digital knowledge and speed of Bird Runner to track them down and retrieve it if stolen, you would be considered loony yourself! So just like a shady cartoon character, how or why should you trust animated depictions in a false reality?
As Lloyds rightly raised, there are still many important questions to be asked and issues to be addressed when considering how banking in the metaverse can become mainstream, such as ensuring customer authenticity, and bridging problems arising from the volatility of cryptocurrency.
For forward-thinking banks, there is an opportunity to combine financial education and planning into a metaverse experience, enabling their customers to experience financial decision-making without risking their real hard-earned money.
By researching and testing ideas now, brands can be armed and ready with adaptable, non-stagnant digital designs that can be easily translated when the concept is finally taken on by good old Joe Bloggs. This represents a huge opportunity for growth and expansion and particularly for banking institutions such as Lloyds, as when the time comes, initial thought leaders will be well-positioned and prepared to be pioneers in the race to be first in the metaverse.
We are some years away from mass adoption by the average consumer, but just like having a website is paramount today, having a presence in virtual worlds seems inevitable for the future.
So, when I asked, does the Metaverse really Meta? It appears it will do to Joe Bloggs in around five years’ time once issues with security are resolved, but for brands wishing to pioneer, the time to research and understand the possibilities is now.
Rachel Perera – Growth Manager
If you’re a brand looking to lead the way in the metaverse, get in touch at email@example.com to see how a market research study could be the key to getting your brand foot in the door to these dynamic dystopias, unlocking a whole new world of digital opportunities.