Local banks moving to capitalise on the metaverse trend can provide their customers with an immersive service experience and enhance the banks' branding, according to a consultancy.
Narain Chutijirawong, executive director of clients and industries at Deloitte Thailand, said the key benefit for banks adopting the metaverse is the captivating experience they can provide to consumers.
Mr Narain said the adoption of the metaverse will enable customers to interact, learn about products and services, receive personal consultations, and make business transactions with banks wherever and whenever they want, with an experience that is superior to the physical world.
This improvement in the customer experience can lead to brand loyalty or new business opportunities with existing or new clients, he said.
A key objective of the metaverse is replicating the physical world in a virtual world, which is commonly the first step of most businesses, said Mr Narain.
Most of the services provided in the physical world will be available in the virtual world, but the difference will be the experience customers have when they interact with businesses.
Businesses can leverage metaverse-related technologies into an extended reality to better serve customers, he said.
As the technology evolves and devices improve and become cheaper, new virtual services may be created specifically for the metaverse, Mr Narain said.
The metaverse is still in its initial stage, spanning 2021-2030, he said.
In the mature stage from 2031, the independent metaverses of different industries will gradually start sharing their data, forming unified standards, and even achieve integration, said Mr Narain.
Deloitte believes there will be cross-platform and cross-industry ecological connection and integration during this phase.
Mrs Mukaya says her firm studies which technologies will have an impact on finance and banking.
THREE SIMPLE STEPS
He recommended three steps for entrepreneurs considering the metaverse path.
First, people should learn about metaverse use cases to gain an understanding of the technology that can power and operate in a virtual world, as well as investigate how their business operations can evolve within it.
Second, people should assess their internal and external situations and evaluate which parts of their value chain, such as production, logistics, sales, marketing, and customer service, can benefit from the metaverse.
Moreover, they should try out their metaverse ideas on a small scale and partner with others in the ecosystem, said Mr Narain. That way people can learn what works and what doesn't work, then refine their ideas, he said.
Mr Narain recommended in the early stages of the metaverse, companies should test and operate their ideas in a closed and controlled environment as the related technologies are still immature.
Businesses have time to learn and adapt alongside the evolution of technology, he said.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is one local bank that took the plunge into the metaverse.
In March this year SCB 10X Co, which oversees SCB investments in technology startups, unveiled its plan to set up its headquarters in The Sandbox, a blockchain-based virtual world platform.
SCB 10X headquarters on this Sandbox metaverse platform expects to welcome public visits by the fourth quarter of 2022.
Its virtual headquarters features three zones: a virtual hub, which is a space for events and sharing knowledge through immersive experiences; virtual land, a space for business partners to collaborate on activities and project development in the future; and a hub to support and promote local artists in the global market through a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, NFT gallery, virtual concerts and more.
SCB 10X chief venture and investment officer Mukaya Panich said the company's focus is on investing in disruptive technology startups worldwide.
Mrs Mukaya said the company always explores technologies, including blockchain, digital assets and decentralised finance, that it thinks will have an impact on the financial and banking industries in the long term.
She said the metaverse will have a significant role in financial services in the future as it could attract participants from around the world.
Mrs Mukaya said challenges for the platform include the need for companies to keep pace with fast-changing technologies and regulations.
Another hurdle is finding staff who have insight and understanding of the metaverse, and can create business opportunities there, she said.
SCB 10X invited IT developers to enter its "SCB 10X Metathon 2022: Metaverse Hackathon" to propose metaverse business ideas.
Developers can apply to join the event from April 25 to May 16.
State-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) president Vitai Ratanakorn said the bank is keen to capitalise on the metaverse to attract a new generation of customers.
The bank plans to offer its digital savings lotteries in the metaverse, alongside its existing online and mobile application channels.
The company also wants to open the GSB museum in the metaverse. The museum is scheduled to launch at the Money Expo in June.
The bank will also use the metaverse to promote its existing project that encourages students to save, seeing it as another channel to keep in touch with them, Mr Vitai said.
SCB 10X Co plans to set up its headquarters in The Sandbox, a blockchain-based virtual world platform.
MEET THE METAVERSE
According to Credit Suisse's 2022 Supertrends report, the digitalisation trend has clearly gained momentum during the pandemic, as technology made further inroads into people's daily lives.
Remote work, video collaboration, online shopping, virtual doctor visits, and the use of augmented reality-based advice to provide remote maintenance services for machines all helped to make people's lives easier during a difficult time, said the report.
As a result, IT spending by enterprises is growing steadily. One area that shows accelerating growth coming out of the pandemic is cloud investments.
By 2025, 51% of IT spending on application software, infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure markets will have shifted from traditional solutions to the cloud, up from 41% in 2022, according to estimates published in February by technology research company Gartner.
Another promising source of growth for digitalisation investment is the metaverse, which should contribute to rising demand for IT infrastructure, processing power, advertising, digital payments and social media, according to the Credit Suisse report.
Companies that can adapt their businesses to these new technologies will likely gain a competitive advantage, said the report.
The report found the rapid emergence of the metaverse is visible in virtual game worlds, virtual concerts/events and increasingly NFT-based transactions.
This movement has led to rising demand for quality content that could help companies attract more customers as people are more willing to shift their real-life activities to a virtual environment, according to the report.