The subject of the metaverse, as is the case with basically every kind of breakthrough technology, is generating a lot of extreme reactions. Marketers have fallen in love with the idea, seeing it as an opportunity for an additional source of revenue, but more and more investors are growing skeptical. So, what is the metaverse? Huge business opportunity or a virtual utopia?
During the November meetup of the FinTech Poland Foundation, we gathered arguments for and against the metaverse – with the support, experience and knowhow of representatives from Accenture Song – Bartłomiej Frączyk and Dominik Wyszyński, as well as Jakub Kaszuba from the Innovation Department of the Let’s FinTech team at PKO BP.
The metaverse is predicted to change the face of the Internet. It will also affect our everyday reality. Although the virtual world is playing an increasingly important part in our lives the prospect of building a parallel existence in the metaverse is a bit far off.
A concept, which involves the coexistence of multiple virtual worlds where people represented by avatars spend their time much like we do offline today, sounds intriguing. For some of our guests, it was a very distant future, while others argued that it is not a matter of decades. Developments in technology (VR and AR) and blockchain, generational openness and Web3.0 tech are bringing us closer and closer to the meta-world that experts are writing about today. The panelists pointed to NFT and cryptocurrencies as elements that will accelerate this process.
However, when talking about the opportunities that the metaverse brings, one must also consciously look at the risks that come with it. Concerns about user-data security (including biometrics) are often repeated. One also needs to be mindful of possible abuse related to information. The metaverse, which is based on deep immersion in an alternate reality, may give rise to new risks we can’t even think of yet. Another problem is the protection of privacy or property rights. Among other metaverse challenges are those related to financial services, both in terms of regulation and control.
For now, banks have taken a very reserved approach to the topic of metaverse – while also realizing that it’s an important subject that they need to observe. Earlier this year, JP Morgan Chase joined the Decentraland platform and opened its first lounge in the metaverse. The U.S. financial holding company thinks it might one day be possible to provide services in the virtual world in exactly the same way they are provided in real life today. HSBC, for example, is also present in virtual reality. During the meetup Jakub Kaszuba spoke about a metaverse concept being developed by Poland’s PKO BP – participants could even experience it for themselves by visiting one of the bank’s branches in the metaverse.
The question is what next? Or as our panelists prefer to say: let’s not ask “if” but “when”?
The participants of our meeting couldn’t come up with a specific date. Instead, they all agreed that what we should be thinking about and discussing now are possible scenarios related to the impact of metaverse development not only on business but most importantly on society in general.