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  • Writer's pictureJess Fongemie

Metaverse—You’ve heard the word lately. What does it mean?

Is it just another tech buzzword? Marketing jargon? A new dimension of reality? Is metaverse relevant to community FIs?

The money business is going to get weird, and Metaverse is simply making this years-long trend visible to the average Facebook user.”

Perhaps the best place to start answering these important questions is to address where “metaverse” originated. This concept started long before Facebook (or even Myspace!) existed. Metaverse was coined by author Neil Stephenson in his 1992 novel, “Snow Crash.” Thirty years ago, Stephenson imagined a future where we interact with one another through life-like digital “avatars,” proxies of our physical selves. Stephenson predicted new forms of community and new ways to participate in them. Naturally, these communities evolved to create and exchange value in the digital dimension where the limitations of the physical world are non-existent.

Metaverse isn’t about extending Facebook’s relevance; it’s about a continuing evolution of community toward digital and data realities. In that sense, it is a ‘new dimension;’ a dimension which requires the bridging of our “brick and mortar” physical world with these new digital communities and consumers opting to digitize themselves!

For nearly a decade, DaLand has designed and developed solutions with this concept top of mind, anticipating that community would continue to become increasingly defined by data and developed as a digital ‘reality.’ This is one reason we encourage and educate our partners to amass and control data as their operational center of gravity. Every community FI, if they want to remain relevant and connected to community, must control its data and use that data to extend to and connect with digital (and physical) communities. The failure to collect, use, and extend data digitally, will be one sizeable straw which further weakens local communities and lead to the irrelevance of local financial institutions.

“These aren’t just games like they were in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s. These are economies, industrial frontiers, and burgeoning communities in need of commercial support. What role will your FI play in these communities?”

Now, here we are! Community is fast becoming a visible digital phenomenon in Metaverse. Of course, now this isn’t just DaLand opinion or hypothesis; it’s Facebook’s business plan. Even stalwarts like The New Yorker are waking up to the impact these realities are going to have on things like finance, payments, and money.

The money business is going to get weird, and Metaverse is simply making this years-long trend visible to the average Facebook user.

For example, I was spending time with my niece (10 years old) and nephew (7 years old), and these kids love their tablets. They are always playing games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft where they create their own characters, immerse themselves in these digital realms, build worlds and interact with their friends. Watching them play these games got me thinking about how much the gaming experience has changed since I was their age. If I wanted to play with my friends, we had to be in the same room with our controllers connected to the same console and select multiplayer mode on the few games that even allowed that. But now, players can download an app and connect with friends all over the world, and even buy and sell goods in their ‘video game’ world (and pay friends using digital currencies in these digital spaces).

These aren’t just games like they were in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s. These are economies, industrial frontiers, and burgeoning communities in need of commercial support. What role will your FI play in these communities? Will your FI be able to remain at the nexus of commerce in this era of digital realities, digital ‘consumers,’ digital community, and yes … even digital dollars and assets!?

The question is, can your institution use the tools of 1997 to stay relevant with this new form of community? Think about it this way, is your Gameboy from 1989 even remotely relevant to the gaming experience of 2022?

Of course not!

If you read our most recent blog post, you understand how important it is for you to lead the transition from the age of electronic transactions into the era of digital engagement. As Stephenson imagined and gaming exemplifies, communities now exist in these two, parallel universes. Universes where community FIs are presented with the opportunity to build a bridge from the physical world, where your institution has earned its trust over generations, and extend that trust into the metaverse.

So, are you ready to compete effectively in the metaverse? Is there any hope that standing up this year’s app will finally make the difference?

When Facebook announced the name change to Meta they said, “Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA, we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started.” The company’s plans to merge social media networks into the metaverse means making products and services more connected and accessible. Sound familiar?

Community FIs developed to ensure individuals had affordable and fair access to money. Whether the members of these digital communities will experience marginalization, usury, become economically underserved, etc., could depend on whether your FI can use its data and extend digitally into these exciting frontiers of money – and people – becoming part of the internet The way money moves through people’s world has changed, but the community FI’s mission & DNA have not. Maintaining relevance is this new reality means shifting away from legacy operations and bridging the divide between physical, electronic, and digital community.

DaLand purpose built our C.O.D.E. Engine for these weird and exciting moments; to support long-term strategies and operational transformations for our clients and to ensure your core and data don’t become dusty and shelved like the Gameboy of the 1990s. As reality is transformed, our Next-Gen CUSO is here to undertake operational and digital transformation with you, and to help build profitable and relevant bridges from your core data to these worlds of digital commerce and data-driven community connection.

So, what are your plans for building vibrant economic communities in metaverse?

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