Can the metaverse live up to the hype?


Creating unique experiences is one thing but securing an audience to engage with them is another.
Australian banking executives are hedging their bets on the metaverse to reduce their organisation’s carbon footprint. | Photo by Sebastian Ng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

There’s no denying the metaverse is still evolving, but is it being over-hyped? The truth is, we’re yet to find out.

The irony is that we’re seeing a number of banking and finance brands — typically known for being risk averse — jump into the deep end and explore the potential of the metaverse. In fact, a new global report —metaverse Benchmark for Banking — suggests more than half of Australian banks (55%) are already engaging in technologies for the metaverse, with the remaining majority (39%) confirming they have plans to do so.

So, what’s with all the hype? Well, the metaverse provides a unique opportunity for organisations — such as banks and financial institutions — to become greener by decreasing their carbon footprint with new processes and services in a virtual realm. The same report confirms that more than nine in 10 (91%) of Australian banking executives are hedging their bets on the metaverse to reduce their organisation’s carbon footprint.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Web3.0 is built for cryptocurrency exchange, known for being a carbon creator, so how will it help to minimise and not grow an organisation’s carbon footprint?

Research shows many organisations looking to adopt metaverse technologies aren’t being naive about its potential impact, taking the hype of its opportunity with a pinch of salt. Almost three quarters (67%) of Australian banking executives believe the metaverse may have negative consequences on their carbon footprint. However, more than eight in ten (84%) already have plans in place to address the environmental impact of the metaverse’s energy needs.

The obvious use case on how the metaverse can be used to lower a company’s carbon footprint starts with looking at the bigger picture. For example, banks and financial institutions incur tons of wastage in their identity verification processes. By looking into how the flow of identity verification services and how they can be digitised through a digital identity system, it could help eliminate physical information processing and the carbon impact associated with such operations.

This isn’t really new. As a society, we’re already moving in the direction of digitising operations surrounding digital identity verification, with the Australian Government urging for adoption of the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) — particularly after the Optus data breach where millions of Australians are now in limbo of seeking new identity documents. The metaverse provides a use case for where systems such as TDIF can be applied in practice seamlessly — not only reducing the carbon impact of operations, but more importantly, enhancing user experiences.

Now this second part around user experience is very important. For the metaverse to live up to the hype, the experience it delivers literally needs to be ‘out of this world’. Think about the experiences that cannot be replicated in real life — that is what the metaverse promises users. So, if organisations don’t deliver experiences that are any better than they are in the physical world, we will never see a mass adoption of the metaverse.

To create distinct user experiences in the metaverse, organisations do require a degree of creativity, but first they require an understanding of what can be delivered through the parameters of its potential. When viewed objectively, the metaverse isn’t a completely new platform, but rather an evolving convergence of digital, virtual and physical worlds that is made possible by any combination of enabling technologies that already exists — such as virtual reality, augmented reality, non-fungible tokens, cryptocurrencies and more. Its convergence is what allows the metaverse to be used as a super-channel to create hyper-immersive experiences that are greater than any one of these ‘worlds’ on their own.

Creating unique experiences is one thing but securing an audience to engage with them is another. For mass adoption of the metaverse to take place, a concerted effort across industries is required to create the ‘supply’ of content within the metaverse to then attract demand. Initially, this will require a ‘hybrid’ engagement strategy where organisations blend the physical and digital worlds to play to each of their strengths.

Again, this strategy isn’t new, it’s been done with Web2.0. However, the metaverse is unique in that it introduces a virtual dimension too, bringing the best of the best together. What used to be small add-on digital touchpoints has now evolved into a digital twin of reality to experience the art of possibility. So, rather than replacing physical experiences, the metaverse has become an extension to them.

Successful use cases are already emerging across industries. Earlier this year at MET:AMS the International Anti-Fur Coalition launched UNFUR, a campaign to end the cruelty of fur fashion in collaboration with Mobiquity and Hexaware. Leveraging the metaverse, a series of fashion NFTs were created and sold as a substitute for real and faux fur fashion garments. It’s a great example of how audiences could side-line the need for harming animals in the physical world, while still appreciating fashion and helping to raise funds for the charity in the virtual world.

The future of the metaverse rests on innovators and evangelists to take the lead and create truly out-of-this-world experiences that captivate and retain users. Only then will the metaverse live up to the hype we’re seeing around the channel. Any savvy business leader would know those that don’t take the initiative to innovate at the inception of a new opportunity, risk falling behind when mass adoption spikes — so the time to jump into metaverse innovation is now.

Gustavo Quiroga is the General Manager of Mobiquity in Asia Pacific.

Further reading

Meta sticks to metaverse plans as already-meagre sales evaporate

Would you buy land in the metaverse?

Shopping in the metaverse coming soon