Banks in the metaverse: between challenges and opportunities according to Minsait

In the last twenty years, banks have gone through a significant evolution, probably the largest and at the same time the fastest in their history, driven above all by the digital transformation and the mainstream spread of the internet and smartphones that have completely revolutionized the global financial landscape and at the same time the relationship between customers and financial institutions themselves.

Internet banking, banking apps, new mobile digital payment systems, online payment services available 24/7, are just some of the main innovations that have impacted the banking sector and the financial system in general. In this constantly evolving context, new opportunities may arise within a new digital space that is increasingly taking shape: the metaverse.

According to data shared by McKinsey, by 2030, the global economic impact of the metaverse could reach $5 trillion in numerous sectors: e-commerce, gaming, education, retail and banking, to name a few.

Suffice it to consider that, according to McKinsey, in 2022 120 billion dollars have already been invested in the metaverse, more than double the 57 billion invested over the entire 2021. In addition, according to Gartner estimates, by 2026 one in four people will spend at least one hour a day within experiences in the metaverse.

But what do we mean when we talk about the metaverse? "To date, this word may seem empty and excessively inflated, especially because there is no univocal definition that can enclose in it the meaning of this new paradigm, "explains Adriano Gerardelli, Head of Financial Services at Minsait in Italy.

"The metaverse will be the new way of living the internet, "the successor of the mobile internet" to quote Mark Zuckerberg, a digital place that we do not "see" only through a screen but in which we can have immersive experiences and interact in a more realistic way with people from every corner of the world".

«In this virtual, open and collective space, virtually enhanced and in which physical and digital realities converge, Italian banks can start pioneering experiments through the creation and strengthening of the relationship with their customers».

"The metaverse may represent, increasingly in the coming years, a powerful sales and service channel that will allow us to offer personalized products – such as loans, payment services, investment packages – to new customer segments."

"Banks will be able to decide to create their own metaverse and make it an element of differentiation and innovation compared to competitors, both in terms of sales processes and to renew the experience of their employees and customers".

"Or they will be able to participate in existing metaverses such as Decentraland or The Sandbox, strengthening their brand with marketing and advertising strategies in these virtual worlds, targeting new customer segments with ad hoc products for their interests".

In addition to all these opportunities, however, there are also fundamental challenges that will have to be faced in order to make the experiences in the metaverse simpler and more interconnected with each other.

"The first challenge concerns interoperability: it will be important to avoid that fragmentation between the various metaverses discourages people from exploring these new spaces. Another concerns ethical issues such as privacy, security, regulatory compliance, physical and mental health of users, environmental sustainability, to name a few, which will shape the form that the metaverse will take  in the next decade.