Movement is timid but very real. The world of insurance and finance is starting to take an interest in the topic of the metaverse, this virtual space connected to the Internet, straight out of the world of online games (Second Life, Minecraft, Roblox and other Fortnite), a market of about 300 billion dollars!
AXA France is undoubtedly the first insurer to take the plunge in Europe. It has thus just acquired a “plot” (right to use a digital place) on the SandBox platform. This Hong Kong-based mobile game publisher created by two Frenchmen realized the potential interest of the metaverse very quickly, well before the announcement, last fall, of Facebook’s strategic shift to the metaverse, causing a slew of projects around the world.
“We are fundamentally focused on innovation and our intuition commands us to experiment with this new field of innovation”, summarizes David Guillot de Suduiraut, Director of Transformation and Technologies at AXA France. The manager remembers the first steps of remote work, a few years ago, with the new digital tools and how today it has become a common, essential way of working.
“When we look at the world of the game today on these platforms where there are a lot of interactions with a multitude of players, and where external brands are starting to arrive, we think that a lot of interesting things will come out”, he argues. He notes in passing that, starting with the smartphone, private uses are essential in the business world, and no longer the other way around.
Internal use cases
This obviously raises the question of metaverse use cases in insurance. For AXA France, these practices will initially be internal. First of all, it will be about using the metaverse to animate its vast Tech community within the group: around 2,000 people who will soon join 780 digital hires planned for this year. That “so that people can no longer meet on Teams but also in virtual 3D spaces where everyone will have their own avatar to participate in conferences of 30 or 100 people or move to a smaller meeting in a few clicks”, imagine David Guillot de Suduiraut. Indeed, the metaverse could be some kind of extension of remote working, in addition to having fun.
“The second issue that will be addressed is that of training, which has already been heavily digitized, like our Climate Academy program, delivered entirely digitally. There is certainly the possibility of providing training in the metaverse “, continues the head of innovation, also a member of the executive committee of AXA France.
Furthermore, these training courses will increasingly be able to draw inspiration from game or the practice of dojos, where groups of developers compete to solve a problem.
First steps towards the virtual agency
At the same time, some initiatives are beginning to explore the field of customer relations, such as large retailers or luxury brands that are establishing themselves in the metaverse. Thus a general agent and a providential agent of the group are experimenting with the concept of virtual agency, with appointments in the metaverse. One of the two is also a game enthusiast and an active member of the Low-Code / No Code communities (developing applications without knowing coding) and knows customers who share the same passions.
The virtual agency is the path taken by one of the (very) rare insurers also present in the metaverse, the Korean Heungkuk Life Insurance, which became part of the working group on the subject, created last year on the initiative of the Ministry of Information and technology. The idea is to allow a client to consult a virtual agency using a virtual reality headset.
What about insurance applications? “It’s a little too early to tell. You will likely be able to use these virtual spaces to secure the real world, and this is already happening, particularly in South Korea and in experiments with two of our agents. It will be like an extension of the use of digital. Virtual goods insurance will therefore likely need to be considered. Today we don’t have an answer and there isn’t even a request. “advance David Guillot de Suduiraut.
Too risky to be insured?
Meta-insurance is therefore not for tomorrow. However, there is already an explosion in asset prices, which therefore deserve to be insured, be it cryptocurrencies, NFTs or even virtual real estate. Some estimates predict a market in the metaverse of $ 500 to $ 1 trillion within five years!
“These parallel universes have their own singularities, at the center of which are digital identities and assets. However, these very activities pose great difficulties to insurers, starting with Lnotions of responsibility and belonging that the NFT and the blockchain will not necessarily be able to fully understand. The volatility of the value of these assets is another issue, in particular for compensation in the event of a claim “, asks Florence Tondu-Mélique, CEO of Zurich France.
In the end, for the leader, the observation today is clear: “These new worlds are too nascent to be insured”. Without closing the door. “Once the upstream risks are identified and assessed, metaverses could become the first universes” insured by design ” underlines Florence Tondu-Mélique. In any case, tomorrow’s insurance will have to adapt, in one way to another, to the hyper-digitization of our daily life.
Banks and finance are also gradually embarking on the adventure. Steps counted. “Banking experiences in the metaverse remain the exception and are today above all a question of communicative logic”, believes Nosing Doeuk, mc2i partner, which has just published a study on the evolution of banking practices.
But, he points out, “Use cases are emerging, in particular to recreate closeness in an increasingly digitalized world. The metaverse could therefore be the missing link between traditional network banking and 100% digital banking. 70% of the customers interviewed want to find a balance between remote banking and the relationship with a consultant “.
Imagin, the branch of CaixaBank, specialized in digital services and aimed at connected young people, has just made a nice publicity stunt with the opening of a virtual “café” on the Decentraland platform, a 3D carbon copy of its ImaginCafé opened in the center of Barcelona . A novelty for a fintech in Europe.
Virtual concert for connected young people
The opening of the space on April 8 was accompanied by a concert recorded in 360 degreesand broadcasts live in the virtual universe. Imagin customer “avatars” will then be able to access content mainly related to culture (concerts, exhibitions), as long as they are equipped, in particular with a virtual helmet! The idea of CaixaBank is clearly to celebrate the occasion and, without offering financial services in virtual mode, is to attract new customers by promoting their own “young” brand in passing.
For its part, JP Morgan is more discreet. But the opening of a “living room” in the virtual world of Decentraland, under its brand dedicated to cryptocurrencies Onyx, was accompanied by the publication of a sort of manifesto on all the opportunities to come from the metaverse. Because JP Morgan is also an investment bank and must demonstrate to all its clients that they have experience in these emerging topics, even on blockchain or cryptocurrencies. A question of credibility. Especially since the first investment funds are starting to arrive on the market, with the metaverse as a theme, such as AXA IM. The HSBC group also acquired a lot in the sandbox, but did not specify any plans.
In his paper, JP Morgan points out that the success of the metaverse “It depends on the existence of a robust and flexible financial ecosystem that will allow it users to connect seamlessly between the physical and virtual worlds. Our approach to payments and financial infrastructure will allow this interoperability to grow. “
“The metaverse which is a virtual environment, with a population, money circulating, generally in the form of cryptocurrencies, an economy that develops on the basis of assets … So there are all conditions to duplicate a market economy and as such, the banks will have all their places, especially in the management of payments “says Nosing Doeuk.
It is therefore no coincidence that all the payment giants are already present in the metaverse, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal Visa or Mastercard, not to mention crypto exchange platforms or crypto wallets. Visa and Mastercard thus multiply projects and requests for approval, with the aim of being an actor in the exchange of digital assets or simply guaranteeing the processing of payment cards in the metaverse.
The emergence of this parallel economy is far from a shared idea. Many banks are still far from being convinced of the interest of the metaverse. On her blog, Anne Boden, the boss of the new Starling bank, very followed and listened to, expresses serious doubts: “It is getting easier and easier to ensure human contact 24/7 via a mobile application! “.