By Kaj Burchardi, Managing Director at BCG
The Metaverse is a term we’ve seen creeping into more and more of our daily conversations; the next generation of the internet, a virtual reality seamlessly woven into the physical world where Web3 elements are combined with VR experiences. When picturing the Metaverse, a futuristic image comes to mind, an online world in which we may all be virtually eating, shopping, and attending events in the not-so-distant future.
But this can be daunting to those of us who haven’t had much involvement in virtual spaces. And that’s a lot of people. The Metaverse will be an increasingly interesting platform for both consumers and brands and there is a growing sense of curiosity about what it claims to offer. It will provide valuable opportunities to those who choose to invest.
Well-known brands such as Nike and Adidas have already entered this space in order to make their mark in virtual reality and we’ve seen large investments made. NFTs are a substantial part of this. Viewed as collectibles, assets, or investments, we will see the buying and trading of them become increasingly common as the Metaverse economy develops. Shifting to the use of NFTs in the Metaverse will position brands as future-orientated and innovative, allowing them to have a seamless journey into the Metaverse and to collaborate with like-minded brands.
Preparing for mass adoption
Current users of the Metaverse have experienced everything from a virtual Travis Scott concert to virtual restaurants and farmers markets. They have also participated in a sizeable virtual-asset economy, buying, selling, and creating goods such as clothing, real estate, art, and currency. In a relatively short amount of time, these NFTs have presented immeasurable opportunities and the market was valued at $22 billion in 2021.
Their role in the Metaverse will only accelerate the market’s growth and it’s exciting to consider where it will take us and who will be investing in them. Those looking to enter the metaverse will have more confidence to do so, which will increase virtual reality adoption.
The Metaverse will act as a platform where users can showcase and trade their collection of NFTs in the form of art, music, and property between users directly – but an intricate technology stack is needed to accommodate these NFTs.
After the creation of Web1 and Web2, Web3 has been created as a platform for the modern user and aligns with the Metaverse. It will and already has shifted behaviours around content online allowing users to consume, create and directly own content independent from a platform.
The decentralisation along with blockchain technology provides trust which will enable both consumption and exchange, and this powerful technology stack will always underpin virtual assets. There are already some 30 million NFT wallets – including 1 million active wallets – highlighting the growing market and as the popularity of the Metaverse grows, virtual assets could increase in economic value and become an asset so valuable we can’t ignore.
Ever heard of a virtual burger?
There are multiple applications of NFTs today already. Most notably – McDonalds commemorated the return of their McRib with their first ever NFT drop. Iconic fashion house Louis Vuitton launched Louis the Game which integrated 30 NFTs and Gucci auctioned a new NFT inspired by their autumn-winter collection. Though the value of these NFTs is undetermined, they also come in the form of entry tickets, music rights or ownership and art that all have value.
Web3, although still in its infancy, is powering this vibrant virtual asset economy and means space is being created that will attract a strong user community.
The Sandbox and Decentraland
Both The Sandbox and Decentraland leverage Web3 technology and are designed to integrate with the tech stack. This is also attracting major brands.
They, along with Web3, facilitate interoperability between Metaverse worlds such as the ability to use the same NFT-proven asset on multiple platforms, as well as interoperability between m-worlds and the web, such as the ability to buy NFTs on “traditional” websites. The combination of asset creation capabilities and monetisation opportunities is addictive for both creators and users, since they are all stakeholders.
With extensive and powerful technologies such as the above as well as blockchain, NFTs have a brilliant foundation to leverage their value and purpose within the Metaverse.
Union Bank of India goes live with RuPay Credit Card on UPI with Kiya.ai as a technology partner
Nitesh Ranjan, ED Union Bank of India with Rajesh Mirjankar, Managing Director & CEO, Kiya.ai at the launch
Kiya.ai, one of the most innovative digital solutions providers in India, announced that Union Bank of India was among the first banks to launch NPCI’s UPI linked to Rupay Credit Card and UPI Lite on the unified payments interface (UPI) platform with Kiya.ai as their technology partner in this achievement.
The announcement comes after the RBI Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) launched RuPay credit card on UPI, UPI Lite and Cross Border payments for BBPS at Global Fintech Fest 2022.
Until now, UPI allowed the linking of bank accounts by mapping an account linked with a mobile number and an savings / current account. Earlier in June 2022, the RBI allowed the linking of credit cards with UPI, stating that RuPay credit cards would be initially linked with UPI “to provide additional convenience to users and enhance the scope of digital payments”.
Rajesh Mirjankar, Managing Director & CEO, Kiya.ai, “We are extremely delighted to partner with Union Bank of India in this pilot project of linking RuPay Credit card on UPI. Kiya.ai has partnered with Union Bank of India for various digital payment initiatives including UPI, UPI Lite, UPI linkage to credit card, and sandbox for API banking. The linking of credit card to UPI will significantly enhance high-volume transactions while also increasing average amount per transaction given the ease of using credit facility on UPI. This is a game-changing initiative as it will ensure safe and contactless transactions, reducing the risk of credit card frauds too.”
Mr. Nitesh Ranjan, ED Union Bank of India said, “We are pleased to embrace the decision taken by the Reserve Bank of India and NPCI to enable Rupay credit cards through UPI. Union Bank of India is proud to be a part of this launch. This is a game changer as one would be able to use a credit card for doing payments using UPI. We are excited to partner with Kiya.ai on this journey, and together, we can provide a smooth user experience to customers and make India even more digitally advanced.”
As part of the pilot project, NPCI will integrate the UPI AutoPay feature with credit card transactions to reduce the risk of defaults on credit card payments.
UK leaves Europe trailing in its embrace of digital banking
- People in the UK have embraced digital and online banking in a way that those across the rest of Europe have not, new research by CRIF finds
- UK consumers are now twice as likely to prefer to apply for financial products and services online via website or in-app, compared to people in other parts of Europe
- More than half of Europeans still prefer to apply for new financial products in-person
- The research comes during the cost of living crisis where people in the UK are increasingly looking for greater support from their financial providers
UK consumers are significantly ahead of their European counterparts in their embrace of digital forms of banking, new data shows.
The research, commissioned by Europe’s leading provider of consumer and business credit information – CRIF – surveyed thousands of people in countries across the continent including France, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, and the UK, to better understand their attitudes towards financial services.
The findings show that people in the UK are nearly twice as likely as other Europeans to prefer applying for financial products and services online via website or app, including through online chat or video call functions (59% vs 33%)
It also finds that over half (53%) of Europeans still prefer to apply for new financial products – such as current accounts, credit cards or loans – in-person at a local bank branch. In comparison, in the UK only around one in five (23%) would now prefer to go in-person, showing consumers’ embrace of a digital-first approach to banking.
The data underlines the advancements and innovations that the UK’s financial services and fintech sectors have made when compared to other sectors across Europe. The UK continues to be Europe’s most attractive location for international investment into financial services*, with the UK’s fintech sector securing more than $9bn of investment in the first half of 2022, ahead of Germany, Europe’s second biggest fintech destination, with $2.4bn.**
Sara Costantini, CRIF’s Regional Director for the UK & Ireland, said:
“In a digitally dominated world, the way in which we go about our daily lives has changed. And nowhere more so than in banking and financial services. Our research shows that the UK leads the way in Europe when it comes to embracing digital and online methods, but there is still more we can do to utilise digital technologies to help more UK consumers to manage their finances.
“While some are reluctant to share data as they are worried about fraud and security, we should work to allay these fears. Technologies such as open banking are not only safe but can lay the foundations for increased financial support during the current economic crisis.
“Financial providers must do more to educate their customers about the benefits of online and other digital forms of banking to not only help them during the cost of living crisis, but also to drive widespread financial wellbeing and inclusion for all.”
While the UK’s embrace of digital financial services in comparison to the rest of Europe is positive, the research identifies several key challenges to furthering this progress and providing consumers with better services at a time when the cost of living is putting considerable pressure on people’s finances.
Despite growing demand in the UK for more tailored financial products and services – with 34% saying banks should doing more here to meet people’s specific needs at this time – nearly one in five (18%) are still concerned that they would be sold products which aren’t right for them.
When the issue of data is raised, over two-thirds of UK consumers (67%) express concerns that sharing financial data leaves them more open to fraud, underlining the need to educate and reassure customers that innovations like open banking have high security standards and enables a range of consumer benefits.
However, despite this hesitance, more UK consumers are acknowledging the benefits that sharing more of their financial information with providers can bring. CRIF’s research finds around a third of people in the UK would be prepared to share more financial information if it helped providers to better assess their financial situation and improve their ability to borrow (35%) or increase their credit limit (31%). The fact that there are more than 6 million active users of open banking services in the UK reflects this change*** and makes the country the leading adopter of open banking in Europe. ****
The research also shows that younger generations (18-34s) in the UK are significantly more willing to share their data with financial providers, with 53% saying they’d be comfortable doing so if it enabled them to qualify for higher levels of borrowing.
These findings are part of wider research by CRIF into the cost of living crisis in Europe, and its impact on consumer attitudes towards banking and financial services. The full report, Banking on Banks, will be published later this month.
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