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Is Your Next Website (or Branch) in the Metaverse?

Unless you’ve been living under a proverbial marketing rock, you’ve probably seen some (or perhaps too many) articles on the metaverse. So many, in fact, that you may be wondering if your financial institution should jump into the Web3 world.

The short answer: Yes . . . and no.

While the metaverse—and the persistent, immersive, three-dimensional experiences it delivers—could change virtually everything about financial marketing (no pun intended), the concept is still in its infancy. There is no question that what the metaverse looks like in 10 years will be much different than it does today. But if 2022 turns out to be the breakout year some are predicting, now is the time for banks and credit unions to understand, and perhaps begin to explore this potentially powerful new way for consumers to connect, communicate, and transact with their brands.

Here’s why you should think about building your next website (or branch) in the metaverse:

  • Deliver a more consistent UX. Do consumers have the same user experience, whether they use a desktop, laptop, or mobile phone? We’re guessing no. But with the metaverse, they (potentially) will. If it becomes the vast (unwalled) world experts envision, your brand can deliver the same online experience to consumers, no matter what their hardware of choice—from TVs and gaming systems to smartphones and VR headsets.
  • Deepen engagement with your brand. The presence of major social media companies like Meta in Web3 suggests that eventually brands will be able to mine more meaningful data and gain insights about consumers through their social properties, providing you with the ability to personalize, customize and deliver targeted messaging to their avatars—unlike anything we can currently deliver in the “real” world.
  • Another option? Creating nonfungible tokens (NFTs)—digital assets that are the foundation of the metaverse economy—to provide exclusive perks to existing, high-value accountholders, or to move prospects further down the conversion funnel.
  • Target younger consumers. The metaverse may provide banks and credit unions with the opportunity to reach—and convert—those elusive younger targets who are more often the gamers who are already in, and comfortable with, virtual interaction. Financial brands that remain focused on gen X and baby boomers have runway, although it’s worth noting how quickly these older audiences followed millennials and gen Z into social media.
  • Enter new geographies. The metaverse knows no boundaries (literally), enabling financial institutions to enter new markets outside their footprint, while delivering “personalized” service via avatar—in much the same way interactive teller systems do via video without the need for a brick-and-mortar kiosk.

 
And here’s why you should think twice before you do:

  • It’s notoriously confusing. While younger consumers may be comfortable with the metaverse, it remains a hazy concept for many people. Industry research shows that nearly half of consumers across age groups “have no idea” what the metaverse is, while about 17 percent say they’re “vaguely familiar” with the concept.
  • It’s less than inclusive. Age aside, Web3 simply isn’t attracting the diverse voices that currently make up interactions on the internet—and in the real world: Women make up only 16% of NFT sales, according to one report, and people of color are excluded more widely given most investors and developers are white.
  • It’s the wild, wild west. By its very nature, the metaverse and its decentralized virtual world present unprecedented risks to people and businesses. It seems that identity theft is easier in the virtual landscape, and brand safety is currently a constant battle. All brands (financial or not) must consider how to control access to their digital venues and implement protocols to do so.
  • It’s gotta be true to your brand. Most consumers (even those not familiar with Web3) can smell a gimmick a mile away. If your bank or credit union is going to enter the virtual marketplace, do so with a clear understanding of how it will serve as an extension of your brand and enhance the experience of your customer or member. And, given the newness of this landscape, be prepared for that experience and how you deliver it to change—continually. If you can’t go with the flow, don’t go at all.

 

The bottom line for financial brands

While the metaverse may not be right for your bank or credit union right now, it’s certainly worth paying attention. Those that do are likely to be ahead of the curve as the metaverse continues to evolve—at what most believe will be an incredibly rapid pace.

To marketers, the metaverse in 2022 is what social media was a few short decades ago: It offers the potential to connect to targets in new ways, and to deliver more meaningful experiences than ever before. Proceed with caution but proceed nonetheless: Sit on the sidelines too long and your brand risks being left behind. Ready to take the first step? Contact us.

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