Metaverse: New frontier of financial services
Mizuho Digital Transformation
October 26, 2022
As the metaverse evolves, financial services will help transcend the barriers between the real and the virtual.
How will the metaverse change our lives?
Digital technology has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. From shopping and scrolling social media on our smartphones, to teleworking from near and far – which has grown more prominent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – we now enjoy connecting to networks whenever and wherever we want.
Recently, the metaverse – a virtual space where people can partake in various experiences using personal avatars – has been attracting a lot of attention. It might seem like some futuristic technology from a movie or anime series, but how will the metaverse evolve and how will it change our lives?
A virtual space where real services are available anywhere, anytime
The metaverse is an online virtual space where people can communicate or engage in economic activity in a similar (or better) manner than they do in the physical world. In the future, many kinds of services will be provided in the metaverse, and new behavioral patterns will emerge as people connect as part of their daily routine, from places such as homes, offices and shops, or while commuting. Through personalized avatars, people will be able to go shopping and hold real-time conversations with other people throughout the world.
At Mizuho, we are working to launch several initiatives aimed at providing new services that utilize the metaverse’s potential as a place to build digital connections with customers and to meet demand for face-to-face transactions. For instance, in the summer of 2022, Mizuho participated in Virtual Market, the world’s largest virtual reality (VR) event, where we could gauge how firms and customers communicate in virtual spaces. In a metaverse based in Osaka, Japan, we set up a booth modelled on a Mizuho retail branch, where regular customers could visit virtually to speak to Mizuho employees. Mizuho’s participation made waves both internally and externally, with one corporate client expressing a strong desire to “grow this platform together with Mizuho,” for example.
A virtual space makes it easier to talk about finance
Talking about finance can be somewhat stressful. But in a virtual world, where people can represent themselves through avatars, they might feel less nervous about talking to new people, thus removing one of the psychological barriers that might prevent them from visiting a bank in the real world. Recognizing this advantage of the virtual world, we will explore various possibilities to improve customers’ experience and make their lives easier.
Mizuho to develop a specialized metaverse payment service
In addition to trial participation at Virtual Market, Mizuho has launched a social media campaign reaching out to a wide spectrum of people to hear what they expect from the metaverse. As many as 1,600 people said that they wanted the metaverse to be “a place where I can feel close to faraway people and spend time with them” and “a place to experience vacations with a sense of ‘being there.’”
Of course, technological advances will be needed to make these ideas a reality, as will payment services to connect service providers with users on the virtual platform. On this point, Mizuho has already begun developing plans for a metaverse payment service.
Any metaverse payment service must give special consideration to the sense of immersion that is key to user experience. What will happen when an avatar buys clothes, for instance? If they need to pay using a real credit card, this will yank the user back into the real world and shatter the sense of immersion.
Mizuho is therefore developing a special payment system called “Metaverse Coin” that will allow users to pay without ruining this sense of immersion. Through 150 years of experience in banking, Mizuho has gained a wealth of know-how with respect to validating transactions. We will leverage this experience to ensure transactions are secure and that users feel safe about buying goods and services throughout the metaverse. We will do so by introducing an accurate avatar identification system that is common across various metaverse spaces.
Rulemaking will be needed to help people feel safe and secure in the metaverse
Metaverse experiences and services have the potential to make our lives richer and more fulfilling, but rulemaking will be critical if this virtual reality is to become part of our daily lives.
For example, if several different metaverses emerge and take wildly different approaches to the same issues experienced in the physical world, this could lead to confusion. Users might decide it is not worthwhile trying to figure out the best way to behave in each, which could impede the further metaverse development.
In order to prevent this, we need to work together to create an environment that transcends the barriers between participants and companies. It will be vital to set out guidelines in order to create the kind of virtual world that we wish to bring about. Finance is one area that will require thoughtful consideration, and it will be indispensable if we want to energize economic activity and promote commerce in the metaverse.
To this end, Mizuho will utilize its wealth of experience and knowledge as a professional financial institution to actively engage in formulating the necessary guidelines. In turn, the evolution of new financial services will help transcend the barriers between the real and virtual, making our lives more convenient and fulfilling. Mizuho is committed to supporting these efforts to build a better future through the metaverse.
Text and photographs by Mizuho’s DX Editorial Team