Money20/20 Europe Fintech companies question the future of the metaverse

  • The metaverse was a hot topic at Money20/20 Europe this week.
  • But fintech companies are divided on the potential impact and adoption of the metaverse.
  • This article is part of a series covering highlights from Money20/20 Europe.

The future of the metaverse was one of the main topics at the Money20/20 conference in Amsterdam this week, but fintech and

banking companies

were divided on what it will actually bring. Some speakers spoke optimistically about its future, touting its potential for creativity and innovation, while others doubted that Web3 would truly be adopted by the mass market.

“I think we’re talking about something that’s not yet suitable for the product market,” said Dmitry Tokarev, CEO of Copper, which develops digital asset infrastructure.

Access to helmets is one of the biggest hurdles.

“The reality is that’s just the interface,” said Gareth Genner, CEO and founder of AI biometrics company Trust Stamp. The hardware is “not there for mass consumer adoption yet,” he added.

Steve Suarez, global head of innovation at HSBC, said this could ultimately widen the digital divide. According to a month of March report by Citi Ventures, a “device-independent metaverse” that includes phones, computers and game consoles could have a total addressable market of 5 billion users. If limited to VR and AR headset owners alone, that market would be limited to 1 billion, according to the report.

Ultimately, the metaverse “doesn’t exist yet,” Tokarev said. “The problem is that there is no vision apart from Mark [Zuckerberg’s]the vision of the metaverse,” he added.

“It reminds me of 1990 when I tried to explain what the internet was,” Suarez said.

Because of this, the future of the Metaverse is difficult to predict, although Suarez said “it will never replace real life”.

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and managing partner of crypto lender Nexo, wondered if the metaverse would just be an “add-on” to the real economy or if it would grow beyond it.

Currently, the Metaverse is “a bit of a cash grab” for real companies launching real-world assets into the Metaverse, Trenchev said.

“Marketing is really the first obvious use case for the metaverse,” Zec said. “But I wouldn’t call it a gimmick,” she added, comparing it to the launch of social media advertising.

But it’s also important for banks to enter the space, Money20/20 speakers agreed. In March, HSBC said he was entering the Metaverse to interact with customers in Web3.

Gartner estimates that by 2026, a quarter of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse.

“For banks to be relevant, they need to be where their customers spend their time and money,” Zec said, adding that banks “build the metaverse or build in the metaverse.” Binance, for example, is launching incubation and investment programs for Web3 builders and entering into partnerships to build infrastructure, said Zoe Wei, head of the fan token and Binance Connect.

Referring to the general uncertainty around the metaverse, Suarez said, “You might not like it, but at least understand it.”

Mary I. Bruner