The digital evolution has moved a portion of humanity’s physical experiences online. The goal of the metaverse is to seamlessly merge people’s digital and physical lives to create a virtual community that PSCU Vice President of Innovation Vladimir Jovanovic says has the “potential to reinvent how we work, play, relax, transact, and socialize.”
Jovanovic, who recorded a session for the 2023 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), says that the metaverse is any digital platform supported by Web 3.0 and blockchain technology that creates immersive, virtual, and augmented reality experiences. He also says that the new frontier is full of opportunity, risk, and unanswered questions.
So, where can credit unions live in this augmented reality?
The end goal is unclear, but Jovanovic suggests credit unions that start exploring metaverse platforms will be ready to respond when members come to the credit union through that medium.
“The first step is to go out there and experience the metaverse for yourself,” Jovanovic says. “The next step is assigning teams at your credit union that can continue that education, and then start brainstorming some of the use cases you can test out in this environment.”
The largely unregulated metaverse of today is likely nothing like future iterations. Jovanovic says some fundamental aspects of the space must change for the metaverse to reach its full potential as a marketplace.
Increased connectivity among the three main metaverse platforms—The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Meta—will go a long way toward allowing companies to create a meaningful presence. Today, each platform has its own authentication and identity methods. Users can’t move their avatars among the platforms, and businesses have to start over on each platform.
“We’re very much in the infancy stages of the metaverse as a consumer platform,” he says, noting that portability, data privacy, and identity are among the metaverse’s biggest issues. “A lot of these things will naturally evolve. Consider the metaverse to be a platform under construction, where everything is a proof of concept that people are testing and playing with to try to understand the opportunity that the metaverse brings for their business model.”
Therefore, he believes credit unions have time to explore, host an event, and learn about the consumers who are already using the metaverse. The more legwork an institution does, the more prepared they will be when the platforms begin to see meaningful adoption.
Today, commerce in the metaverse can include users attending concerts, purchasing NFTs, buying items for their avatar, or walking down virtual store aisles and ordering items that are sent to the user’s physical address.
Credit unions that find an intriguing use case in the metaverse may benefit by attracting younger members, expanding financial literacy efforts, and delivering a more immersive experience that appeals to a segment of consumers.
“The platform could potentially redefine the way we work, socialize, and buy things online,” Jovanovic says. “It levels the playing field in certain markets, and it opens up the possibility to grow tremendously in others.”
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