Metaverses are on the horizon. How can we be sure the avatar with whom we're sharing intellectual property is really a genuine colleague? How can we trust that a virtual interaction with our bank manager, friend, or romantic partner isn't an interaction with a fraudster? And how can we protect our own digital identities from being stolen and used by people with nefarious intentions? In January, Meta boldly claimed to be building the world's most powerful AI supercomputer: Research SuperCluster (RSC). Set to launch in mid-2022, RSC will "help us build for the metaverse", said the company.
The first bank to enter the metaverse with much fanfare was JP Morgan earlier this year. The US investment giant took a large plot in Decentraland and boasts a prowling tiger as a feature in its Onyx Lounge. Since then, South Korea's Kookmin Bank has opened up its customer services options by providing one-to-one consultations in the metaverse. HSBC then followed, opening a branch in the established Sandbox region of the metaverse, while the UK-based payments fintech Sokin recently announced its imminent foray into the augmented reality platform. Launched in 2021 Sokin operates as a next generation payments provider rather than a bank, but the fintech is set to enable full ecommerce payments for the first time in the metaverse, allowing brands and businesses to grow from its physical store into the virtual world.
It's not a coincidence that two global multinational investment banks and financial services companies, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, agrees that the nascent metaverse market could be worth $8 trillion in the future. In its latest Technology Vision 2022 report, titled Meet me in the metaverse, multinational information technology services company, Accenture surveyed more than 4,600 business and technology leaders across 23 industries in 35 countries. Like an arms race, futuristic big tech companies Microsoft, Facebook (FB now Meta), and Apple Inc, Google (now Alphabet) amongst others, are scrambling to sweep up the metaverse. Facebook (now Meta) describes the metaverse as "a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren't in the same physical space as you". CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Meta is working on egocentric data, which involves seeing worlds from a first-person perspective.
Beneath the buzz, the metaverse is arriving in both predictable and unexpected ways. Some new experiences using headsets and mixed reality will be in your face – quite literally – but other implications will be harder to spot. As with all new categories, we'll see intended and unintended innovations and experiences, and the security stakes will be higher than we imagine at first. There is an inherent social engineering advantage with the novelty of any new technology. In the metaverse, fraud and phishing attacks targeting your identity could come from a familiar face – literally – like an avatar who impersonates your coworker, instead of a misleading domain name or email address.
As you read this, the internet is being reshaped. We have not witnessed a topic explode quite like the metaverse. While extended reality (XR) technology has been around for some time, the topic's momentum has recently accelerated with some analysts now predicting the metaverse to be an $8 trillion opportunity. With more people turning to online gaming during the pandemic, the industry has soared with a global revenue of $154 billion in 2021. While the pace at which the metaverse is expanding beyond gaming is unknown, we do know this next frontier is coming fast.