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By Peter Gould, CEO of RendezVerse

In the last few decades alone, the banking sector has experienced profound change – and this pace of change is escalating as the world becomes increasingly digitised. Just consider how the everyday banking experience has transformed in just one generation. While in years gone by we might have physically attended their local branch with cheques and a paying-in book, today we rely on apps, contactless payments and online banking – often barely seeing a physical note or coin.

Since the credit card was first introduced in the 1950s, every subsequent decade has nudged the advancement of financial services to the next level. ATMs came online in the 1960s, e-payments were first made in the ’70s and by the ’90s, the now legendary payment platform, PayPal, was launched – becoming one of the first .com firms to survive the boom-and-bust cycle.

More recently, mobile banking became commonplace from the early noughties and the past decade has been all about cryptocurrency. So, where will banking go next in the 20s, particularly as we move towards Web3 and the metaverse? Will this fascinating new digital world further disrupt the industry and take banking to new heights?

What is the metaverse exactly?

The metaverse is the next step in the internet’s evolution – taking social and digital spaces forwards into a vast, interconnected digital world without borders. People will use wearable technology to feel as though they are physically with others, experiencing work, play, life, and learning in entirely new ways and worlds – where anything is possible and where the internet is a profoundly immersive experience.

The concept isn’t new, but developments in technology mean that it’s suddenly becoming a reality, with consumer awareness and metaverse access speeding up in the past few years. This has been driven by Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) and its move into the space, accompanied with lower-cost VR devices. But this world isn’t just about entertainment and gaming, since businesses can use VR tech to deliver profoundly interactive and engaging experiences to customers.

For example, at RendezVerse, we are enabling event managers to view and explore potential venues and spaces in any part of the world from the comfort of their offices. By providing virtual viewings through the metaverse, events planners and venues can save time, money, and the climate, by drastically slashing carbon emissions from physical travel.

The banking metaverse

There are various benefits to the metaverse which particularly apply to banking. First and foremost, the experience provides the chance to offer rich, engaging and highly personalised experiences to customers and clients. Within this experience there are huge marketing opportunities too, with unlimited real estate and screen space available.

Lower operating costs are also a factor. With no need for physical premises and goods, banks can provide an in-person service with far less overheads. This also opens the opportunity for providing immediate, round-the-clock support, using an international workforce to provide customer service at any time of the day, for all customers.

There are staff benefits too. The metaverse provides an easier way to deliver staff training to vast, disparate workforces. Furthermore, employees’ commute can be eradicated, giving them time back in their day and greater flexibility for those who need it, such as parents or disabled workers.

Lastly, there is the profound environmental benefit that comes from taking physical travel out of the equation. When in-person, face-to-face banking can take place from the comfort of both the banker’s and the customer’s own home, two round trips are saved entirely – a far better approach to ‘carbon off-setting’.

Which banks will benefit most from the metaverse?

Early adopter banks are likely to benefit most from gaining a position on the metaverse and early advantage wins. Because banks will no longer require physical premises to grow and succeed in the metaverse, those migrating online first will be able to win customers before competitors.

These early adopters will also be able to develop the best reputation, customer service and technology before the market matures, and have valuable experience when competitors are still getting to grips with the foundations and basics of what the metaverse is.

And when considering that there are multiple different metaverses already in existence, it’ll all be about location. Forward-thinking banks will purchase digital property in each of the higher profile metaverses, to secure their spot as the different world’s jostle for the largest fanbase. Banks who wait around to see who wins may find there’s no real estate left by the time they jump in.

Going beyond the metaverse with more Web3

The metaverse is a Web3 technology, so it is primed for NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and cryptocurrencies, both of which are major opportunities for banks, whose world is currency and transactions.

The nature of those who opt to bank in the metaverse means customers will be highly likely to be interested and engaged in these services. Banks could use this as an opportunity to offer highly-secure digital storage facilities, for example, where their NFTs and crypto can be visualised in an actual vault they walk into.

Taking the meta leap

Although the metaverse is currently a hotspot for entertainment and gaming, banking and business industries are likely to follow suit very soon. We are already seeing a huge spike in interest at RendezVerse and the profound benefits that this digital world will provide for forward-facing banks is clear to see.

The banks which take the meta leap first will find that they gain the early-mover advantages of brand exposure, new customers, greater brand awareness, and the chance to rapidly gain experience and knowledge in this technology, which banks who follow suit later will be severely lacking. So, bankers of the physical world, are you ready to take the meta leap?

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