THE METAVERSE: SHAPING BANKING AND FINANCE

BY DR SOHA MAAD

Introduction

This article presents a complete overview of the Metaverse. This overview covers the advent of the Metaverse, components of the Metaverse, Metaverse characteristics, applications and projects. The article also presents the steps to build a Metaverse and reveals the criticisms and concerns over the Metaverse. Metaverse growth and future outlook are depicted. The article focuses on Metaverse banking and the uptake of Metaverse by fintechs. The issues of Metaverse governance and impact on society are raised. The article concludes with recommendation for Arab banks to develop their technologies and adopt short and long terms strategies to embrace the Metaverse.

THE ADVENT OF THE METAVERSE

According to Wikipedia, the metaverse is a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), extended reality (XR), multisensory extended reality, and simulated reality. A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

Metaverse development is fueled by increasing demands for immersion. Recent interest in metaverse development is influenced by Web3, a concept for a decentralized iteration of the internet.

The term Metaverse became popular after Facebook famously changed its name to Meta in order to align with the future of virtual reality and the way we connect work, and play together. Besides a rebranding of a social media giant, the Metaverse is clearly on the rise for adoption by many industries.

The Metaverse can be an exact replica of the physical world, or it can be a virtual world with features not yet seen in the real world.

Meta Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg explains the Metaverse as: “A blend of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). You can move from object to object, world to world using augmented reality.”

Facebook changed its name to Meta because 3D virtual spaces will let users socialize and work from the comfort of their homes and allow businesses to automate and simplify their processes.

Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, believes that: “The Metaverse can help businesses reduce wastefulness and increase productivity. Incorporating technologies like Artificial Intelligence AI, Augmented Reality AR, and Virtual Reality VR will benefit organizations and save them money. “

NVIDIA is one of the largest manufacturers of graphic processing units (GPUs) which will be equally prominent as the Metaverse uses GPUs to run its operations.

NVIDIA developed NVIDIA Omniverse™ which is a scalable, multi-GPU real-time reference development platform for 3D simulation and design collaboration, and based on Pixar’s Universal Scene Description and NVIDIA RTX™ technology.

 

THE BUSINESS SHIFT TO THE METAVERSE

According to V-Soft Consulting, businesses are shifting to the Metaverse for the following reasons:

  • Enhanced Social Networking: According to Zuckerburg, the Metaverse is a lot more than Virtual Reality and by the end of this decade, it will transform businesses, work, and connections.
  • Customer Experience: With the Metaverse, businesses can engage with their customers, explore new opportunities, and stay up to date on the latest technologies.
  • New Business Ventures: NVIDIA has already capitalized on the rise of the Metaverse by creating Omniverse to connect worlds within the Metaverse. According to NVIDIA, Omniverse is an easily extendible, open platform built for virtual collaboration and real-time physically accurate simulations. It allows designers, researchers, and creators to collaborate and sell their products in virtual spaces.
  • Enhanced Advertising Opportunities: The Metaverse will be a golden opportunity for businesses to advertise their products. Just like the physical world, the virtual world will have spaces to promote products and services.
  • New Digital Products: The Metaverse is a space where everything is simulated from the real world. Users can create their own avatars and decide what the avatar wears and looks like. Metaverse spaces usually resemble physical locations to feel more connected and businesses can leverage this to sell ‘digital’ products starting from clothing to software applications. Businesses entering the Metaverse can open their stores to augment their market share.
  • Remote Work: Remote work capabilities have become a necessity since the beginning of 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some organizations have shifted completely to remote work. Although the remote work transition has been pretty smooth for most organizations, some issues are still prevalent. The Metaverse can be used in training new employees, organizing meetings, collaboration, and team building. In the Metaverse, employees will have their own virtual workspace where they can attend meetings, work, and collaborate. Users can make virtual presentations and take part in brainstorming sessions. The Metaverse creates a more interactive environment than just virtual meetings, connecting users from all over the world to attend global summits, meetings and cater to an international audience.

 

Technologies powering the Metaverse

Various technologies are used to augment the Metaverse and make it more immersive. These include:

Blockchain and cryptography: Blockchain or decentralized technology is essential for the mass adoption of the Metaverse across major industries. Blockchain technology powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin. It can also function as a distributed ledger for recording peer-to-peer transactions and supports the creation of digital assets called non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and dApps. Blockchain technology is crucial for the development and constant evolution of the Metaverse. With blockchain, enterprises can build decentralized and transparent solutions to provide digital proof of ownership, digital collectability, value transfer, and interoperability.

3-D reconstruction: The implication of 3-D reconstruction has increased in many industries, especially real-estate businesses. Due to long shutdowns and social distancing practices, people missed in-person visits to the properties they wanted to buy. As a solution, real-estate agencies adopted 3-D reconstruction technology to take potential buyers on property tours without forcing them to come in person.

3-D reconstruction facilitates the creation of a natural environment where the users can navigate using their avatars to check out the replica of a physical building or object.

Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is widely applicable in our day-to-day lives, business automation, strategies and planning, facial recognition, faster computing, and much more. Likewise, AI has enabled the creation of immersive virtual spaces. Regardless of the project (gaming, commercial, or general niche), AI is adding value to the Metaverse in many ways:

  • Data processing and management have become easy and faster with AI.
  • For gaming in the Metaverse, AI improve players actions and interaction.
  • AI technology can generate more realistic avatars.
  • AI make the entire Metaverse process more dynamic.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) Mixed Reality (MR) and Extended Reality (ER):

  • Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that substitutes one’s vision of the physical world with a digitally produced scene using software and headgear devices.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that blends the digital and real worlds.
  • Mixed Reality (MR) is a hybrid of augmented reality and virtual reality.
  • Extended reality (XR) is a new collective term encompassing all immersive technology.

Internet of Things (IoT): IoT, as a system, bridges the gap between our physical world and the internet, enabling the sending or receiving of data through sensors. For the Metaverse, the IoT collects from the physical world and renders items into virtual space, which increases the accuracy of digital representations.

 

Components of METAVERSE

Components of metaverse technology include:

Hardware: Access points for the metaverse includes computers, smartphones, augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual reality, extended reality, and multisensory extended reality devices and metaverse screens at smart venues, new types of high technology motion picture theaters, XR venues, hi-tech stadiums and hi-tech arenas.

Software: There has been no wide-scale adoption of a standardised technical specification for metaverse implementations, and existing implementations rely primarily on proprietary technology. Interoperability is a major concern in metaverse development, stemming from concerns about transparency and privacy.

OpenXR: is an open standard for access to virtual and augmented reality devices and experiences.

 

METAVERSE CHARACTERISTICS

The Metaverse key characteristics are:

  • Persistency: it exists regardless of the user’s physical presence.
  • Infinity: it supports countless contemporary users and VR worlds.
  • Self-sustaining: users can earn within the Metaverse and pay for their utility.
  • Interoperability: it helps users move their virtual items, including avatars, from one Metaverse project to another.
  • Real-time: it allows users to relish live experiences.
  • Decentralization: The metaverse is never under the control of a single entity. 
  • Interactivity: The metaverse allows users to communicate and interact with other users as well as metaverse platforms. 
  • Corporeality:  The metaverse maintain compliance with the laws of physics even in a virtual world alongside staying true to the concept of resource scarcity. 
  • Creator Economy: Users can create and trade new assets or experiences in the virtual worlds of the metaverse alongside enjoying complete ownership. Creators can use their assets or experiences in any environment and trade them for the desired value. 

 

METAVERSE APPLICATIONS

Reference to various sources including the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2022, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Insights2Techinfo, 101 BLOCKCHAIN, V-soft Consulting, JP Morgans, and Forbes, applications for metaverse technology can improve work productivity, interactive learning environments, e-commerce, real estate and fashion.

The top applications of the metaverse in different sectors are:

Healthcare: Augmented Reality AR has emerged as a vital technology for empowering the skills and knowledge base of medical professionals. For example, surgical assistive tools supported by technology such as Microsoft Hololens help surgeons in various surgical procedures. The metaverse can also help in easier monitoring of patient data such as body temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

Real Estate: Virtual reality VR can offer realistic and immersive experiences to real estate clients. Real estate agents can leverage the power of VR for offering immersive virtual tours of properties to buyers. In addition, the metaverse also allows better prospects for integrating different multimedia features in particular VR tours

Education: Virtual reality is a promising tool for transforming traditional teaching approaches by emphasizing learning concepts through visuals. Metaverse applications in the education sector can help in creating engaging and immersive learning environments for students in different learning institutions.

Military: Tactical Augmented Reality or TAR is one of the notable examples of metaverse technology used in the military. It is almost similar to night-vision goggles, with enhanced capabilities. TAR could easily display the precise location of a soldier alongside the positions of allies and hostiles. Synthetic Training Environment is an augmented reality system tailored for offering a realistic training experience for soldiers. The Synthetic Training Environment provides an immersive training experience by simulating physically and psychologically intensive combat settings in virtual environments. 

Manufacturing: Virtual Reality VR applications can help in training employees on safety precautions alongside fostering participation in the simulation of risk scenarios. As a result, metaverse applications can definitely contribute a lot in reducing the risks of accidents. Metaverse applications in manufacturing could facilitate the development of better products in the long run. 

Potential future rising applications of the Metaverse are:

Virtual businesses and markets: Technology creates new opportunities for businesses, helping them promote their services and offerings effectively. With the increasing implementation of the Metaverse, enterprises are coming out of the two-dimensional surface of e-commerce and adopting lifelike virtualized spaces for a profound experience. E-commerce business owners can interact with merchants in a virtual space and perform trading formalities such as product inspection, negotiations, and finalizing deals. Businesses can better influence customers using interactive and realistic marketing content rather than relying on digital marketing tactics.

Trading digital assets: With many new business concepts, Metaverse technology also complements the creation, ownership, and trading of digital assets and tokenized versions of real-world assets to empower cryptos and NFTs.

Expansion of social media platforms: A platform based on Metaverse provides a more immersive experience for social media users by enticing a feeling of presence among them. Combining virtual reality and augmented reality enables a more realistic digital experience beyond the present social media universe’s abilities.

METAVERSE PROJECTS

Meta, Accenture, IBM, the United States Department of Defense, the United State Ministry of Defense, Amazon, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Sony, and LG have been developing technologies and systems that work cohesively with various metaverse applications and offerings.

With the Metaverse being the trendiest tech topic, every industry is jumping into its horizon, resulting in the exponential growth of Metaverse projects. Examples of Metaverse projects right now.

Gaming Metaverse – Decentraland: is a gaming-based decentralized Metaverse project designed to facilitate a realistic and immersive virtual world for worldwide users to create, explore, and trade NFTs. It allows users to buy land inside the world, host live events, play games, and do more exciting activities, which are also possible in the real world.

Real estate Metaverse – Upland: Upland is a blockchain-powered gaming Metaverse project designed to support buying, selling, and virtual trading of properties mapped to real-world addresses. The properties on this platform are represented via NFTs that users can own to become a “digital landowner” and trade these NFTs to earn profit in the form of UPX coins.

Multipurpose Metaverse—Enjin: Enjin is a Metaverse project built and run on the Ethereum blockchain that supports the creation of marketplaces on its horizon. Enterprises, based on their industry niche, can create decentralized NFT marketplaces, create NFTs, integrate them, and trade them to earn money that has real value.

Military Metaverse: The United States Department of Defense has built its own metaverse operating in the defense tech sector built on the most highly advanced military-first artificial intelligence system at its core operating autonomously within a series of trade secret algorithms in a cloud system architecture.

Digital Twins: Several initiatives are now developing digital twins of the physical world we live in and access this digital world through the network.

Retail Metaverse: The world has changed considerably after the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, shopping malls began following social distancing practices. A few even temporarily shut down. Organizations have adopted remote working models, and people isolated themselves from huge gatherings, meet-ups, and other events. With technological advancement, the Metaverse may get even more exciting and real, and users will soon touch and feel virtual objects through haptic gloves.

HOW TO BUILD A METAVERSE

Metaverse is complex, and the structures we build into it must support interoperability and be persistent, as synchronous as possible to the real world. It must also be secured enough for transactions, thus creating an economic base. The virtual world must be filled with content and experiences staying true to its meaning. Accubits blog by Rahul A R, suggests four steps to build a metaverse:

Step 1: Choose a metaverse platform

Users can choose from the metaverse platforms already launched in the market, for example, Facebook Meta. Or, they can build their own metaverse platform from scratch.

 Step 2: Design the metaspace

A metaspace can be an app, a virtual meeting room, a virtual conference hall, or even a virtual home theatre.

Step 3: Build an interaction layer

The interaction layer defines the user controls, access criteria, navigation controls, and communication protocols between the users. The interaction layer also defines the integrations with third-party tools and software needed to support the functioning of the metaspace.

Step 4: Build an interoperability layer

Interoperability standards enable the operational processes to support the exchange and sharing of information between different systems. The goal of interoperability is to access and use data and digital objects autonomously by both humans and machines. Metaverse supports payment gateways that allow the transfer of virtual money/crypto. Choosing a blockchain to route the secure, transparent, and decentralized transactions is required to have a fully functioning virtual world.

METAVERSE critisim and concerns

While the Metaverse is promising, it entails many risks and has several criticisms:

Feasibility: Intel sees that truly persistent and immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time, will require a 1,000-times increase in computational efficiency from today’s state of the art.

Privacy: Information privacy is an area of concern for the metaverse because related companies will likely collect users’ personal information through interactions and biometric data from wearable virtual and augmented reality devices. Meta Platforms is planning on employing targeted advertising within their metaverse, raising further worries related to the spread of misinformation and loss of personal privacy. Liverpool Hope University sees that the amount of data collection in the metaverse would be greater than that on the internet.

User safety: User addiction and problematic social media use is another concern. Internet addiction disorder, social media, and video game addiction can have mental and physical repercussions over a prolonged period of time, such as depression, anxiety, and various other harms related to having a sedentary lifestyle such as an increased risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Experts are also concerned that the metaverse could be used as an ‘escape’ from reality in a similar fashion to existing internet technologies.

Virtual crime: are significant challenges with current social virtual reality platforms, and may be similarly prevalent in a metaverse.

Social issues: Metaverse development may magnify the social impacts of online echo chambers and digitally alienating spaces or abuse common social media engagement strategies to manipulate users with biased content.

Metaverse growth

A report by Bloomberg Intelligence has pointed out the possibilities for the metaverse reaching almost $800 billion by 2025. Organizations like Microsoft and NVIDIA are already coming up with their own strategies to build around the Metaverse. The future will see a completely integrated virtual world.

A recent report by JPMorgan estimates the market and business opportunities for companies in the metaverse at over $1 trillion in yearly revenues. JPMorgan is the first bank to arrive in the metaverse, opening a lounge in Decentraland, the virtual world based on blockchain technology. in Onyx Lounge, the bank’s lounge in Decentraland, clients can buy virtual plots of land with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or use cryptocurrency.

In the few months since the announcement by Meta, the metaverse has witnessed its own accelerated maturation curve. Bloomberg Intelligence expects more organizations to jump on the bandwagon, pushing the market size to $800 billion by 2024.

Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and entertainment.

The metaverse is a new economy, an entirely new business paradigm fueled by the combinatorial effect of the evolution of different technologies. At its core, the metaverse is built on the foundations of immersive and decentralized technologies.

METAVERSE FUTURE OUTLOOK

According to 101 Blockchain analysis by James Howell, the metaverse is still under development, and it is too soon to identify the top metaverse applications in a specific order or ranking. As of now, metaverse technologies are powering new waves of digital transformation across different industries. At the same time, metaverse technologies like VR, AR, and XR are transforming the conventional perspectives on industry best practices and business models

For example, VR has the potential to change learning experiences in classrooms and workplaces. On the other hand, many existing applications of the metaverse, such as virtual real estate tours, showcase the potential for growth of metaverse in the future.

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2022 highlighted that digitalisation and the metaverse are revolutionizing the retail industry. The metaverse is going to change how we buy retail products. Clothing brands such as Adidas, Gucci and Vans are already preparing their presence in the digital sphere. Rather than reducing physical sales, the metaverse could unlock opportunities for retailers, but bridging the physical and the digital while creating a cohesive customer experience will be crucial.

With multiple uses and features of Metaverse being discovered and explored every day, it is clear that Metaverse could be the next big thing.

Several factors, including technology innovations and the rise of the experience economy, are fuelling this rapid growth. For businesses across sectors, the metaverse opens up a number of challenges and opportunities. Already, gaming, media, and entertainment are a big component of the metaverse. It is only a matter of time before the banking, commerce and financial services industries jump onto the bandwagon.

METAVERSE BANKING

The evolution of banking and their maturity levels can be traced as follows:

Traditional banking: This is a two-tier banking model governed by central banks that relies heavily on one-on-one customer interactions in the physical space. Traditional banking is heavily manual and paper-based and lacks the customizations and personalization of products and services.

Digital banking: The digitization of banking services can be tracked in two categories. First, the digitization of existing processes, making them available through internet and mobile channels. Second, building entirely new customer journeys, keeping digital and data first in mind. During this stage, banks operate like a tech company offering an improved customer experience, customer engagement and customer operations.

Open banking: In the past years there have been significant developments in banking as a service, where banks can seamlessly connect and offer third-party services through Application Program Interfaces APIs.

Decentralized finance: Blockchain technology, particularly with the advent of Web3, has given rise to an entirely new economy that is borderless, secure, fast, and decentralized (without intermediaries). A huge uptake in crypto, NFTs and central bank digital currencies has led to a new virtual and creator economy by unlocking the potential of entirely new assets in the market.

Metaverse banking: Lately, the metaverse has gained market traction across industries, including the banking sector as well, as the metaverse is becoming the norm to play, work and socialize.

According to information age article by Rajashekara V. Maiya, vice-president at Finacle at Infosys, Cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens NFT transactions are among the innovations that are set to shape metaverse banking.

The opportunities that the metaverse can present to the banking industry are:

Building a competitive edge: The metaverse could be an opportunity for traditional banks to compete against the challenger banks and recover lost ground from lagging behind on innovations around WhatsApp payments or embedded finance.

Non-fungible tokens NFT opportunities: A number of people are already transacting in the virtual reality space and investing in NFTs. NFTs could serve as a bridge between users and the metaverse, as they will enable users to facilitate identity during community and social experiences. They could also help identify ownership of digital products that exist only in the virtual reality space.

Immersive customer engagement: For customers who still prefer to visit a bank branch, banks can now offer an immersive round-the-clock banking experience in the metaverse.

Training and education: Some Banks plan to use their virtual branches to educate young people on finance, as well as train employees

Prepare for new age lending: Transactions in the metaverse need a secure medium. Financial institutions will benefit if they are able to predefine, develop and implement solutions that will serve all the crypto transaction and crypto investment needs. This will depend on many factors, including government regulations and a secure system.

KB Kookmin Bank, one of South Korea’s biggest financial institutions, is developing the KB Metaverse VR Branch Testbed. The move will enable customers to access banking services in the metaverse by wearing a head-mounted VR device. It includes virtual banking services and transactions, such as remittances that can be managed by a bank clerk. One-on-one consultations between customer and employee avatars will also be made possible.

METAVERSE in fintech and FINANCE

According to fintech magazine article by Joanna England, the Metaverse is reshaping the fintech industry. Many experts have expressed their surprise at the way fintechs are embracing the metaverse. While alternative realities in the gaming world are completely understood, many have questioned why an industry that is not entertainment based, would invest so much in establishing a presence in the metaverse.

Main aspects that attract fintechs to the metaverse are:

  • Branding opportunities: By entering the metaverse, fintechs will be placed at the heart of areas that do get a lot of virtual footfall.
  • A new dimension to customer servicing: Many institutions want to still be able to offer what they consider to be face to face human services and the metaverse offers that possibility.
  • A haven for digital currencies: crypto is king in the land of the virtual – and many businesses in the metaverse are already trading with a number of different currencies.

Metaverse Governance

The metaverse was very visible at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos 2022, with tech giants Microsoft and Meta both presenting their own demonstrations of what it looks, sounds and feels like to be in a virtual reality or augmented reality world.

Nick Clegg, former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK) and now president for global affairs at Meta gave his view about who will govern the Metaverse to Radio Davos, stating that the ambition of Meta and Mark Zuckerberg is not to create some sort of empire in the sky which will be owned by Meta and governed by one company. The metaverse will come into being, regardless of whether Meta company is pushing for it or not. The key thing to consider now early on, before facts are already laid, baked into the cake of the technology, is to make sure that that patchwork quilt does not become too segmented, so that the user can move from one part of the metaverse to the other. Users should be allowed and empowered to move more easily from the Meta metaverse to the Apple metaverse, and the Microsoft metaverse in the future.

Nick Clegg acknowledged that the World Economic Forum is playing an important catalytic role by bringing together academics, thinkers, regulators, online safety experts, people from Meta, counterparts from Google, Microsoft, and smaller companies too, to start having a conversation about the Metaverse, to lay the rules of who will govern the Metaverse in the years to come.

METAVERSE ROLE IN SOCIETY

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2022 revealed that Metaverse has a potential to play a broader role in society through its ability to open our horizons, interact with those that we could not have met in the real world, experience new places, access public services and healthcare, and, overall, create an extension of the real world that we live in, to help us discover ways to make it better.

According to Subha Tatavarti, the Chief Technology officer at Wipro Limited, the Metaverse offers a fundamentally transformative model of engagement in virtual and augmented spaces, promising to change the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

While the Metaverse offers many commercial opportunities, the broader benefits of the platform have yet to be fully uncovered. The metaverse could be a force for good in areas like healthcare delivery, education, and training, but only if its risks are mitigated and it is regulated safely.

The metaverse will make e-commerce experiences more realistic and immersive.

Metaverse will also transform education and training and make recruiting essentially location-agnostic.

Metaverse will offer limitless possibilities to deliver healthcare efficiently, cheaply, and more widely, through telehealth, remote therapy, or remote treatments on the metaverse.

New travel experiences will be borne with increased adoption of the metaverse. Similarly, metaverse will level the playing field between urban and rural, developed and developing parts of the world by enabling access to public services in the remotest places.

There is also a unique opportunity to tackle climate change with metaverse. Through digital twins, metaverse will allow for replication of buildings, cities, and even the earth to better understand the impact on the environment and help advance climate science.

However, disadvantages and risks of the metaverse prevail, these include:

  • the risk of creating a platform exclusive to a certain part of the society, those who have access to technology and the skillset to use it.
  • over-dependency on and overuse of the metaverse can have significant societal implications, creating two parallel realities, leading to more division and resentment instead of more cohesion, inclusion, and collaboration.
  • 3D environments can collect a much broader range of data about individuals than the two-dimensional Internet. As an irreversible, traceable, and secure network of transactions, blockchains will be critical in managing identities, authentication, data ownership, and governance.
  • Organizations should ensure ethical Artificial Intelligence AI standards for the Metaverse.

Road ahead for arab banks

Realizing the full potential of the metaverse, Arab banks should advance their technologies ranging from core infrastructure to experiential capabilities. Like the Internet’s globally accepted Domain Name System and Internet Protocol standards, which catalysed user adoption, the metaverse will need similar standards for graphical, transactional, computing, and network capabilities. For an open, interoperable, and secure metaverse, it will be vital for consortiums of different enterprises, ranging from startups to Internet giants, to collaborate on protocol standards.

Arab banks should also adopt new short and long terms strategies:

Short-term (less than 12 months) strategy for banks: This can take multiple approaches. One is to focus on engaging customers in the existing open metaverses. Banks can identify potential customers, onboard them through crypto wallets, and provide payments, lending and custody services.

Mid- to long-term (over 12 months) strategy for banks: Most global banks already offer digital assets, exchange, and custody platforms that can be extended to support the requirements of the virtual world. Banks can consider developing their own virtual world platforms (a private metaverse), enabling new products and even marketplaces and tying them back to traditional infrastructure. Identity management in the metaverse is another area where banks should focus.

While it might be tempting to dismiss the metaverse, the opportunity cost might mean being rendered obsolete in a rapidly evolving market. Arab banks need to rationalize use cases aligned to their strategies across both short-term and long-term horizons. Given the speed of progress, dedicated efforts will be needed to ensure early identification and action.

 

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