82% of global consumers think that the finance industry will be impacted by the metaverse, according to a Wunderman Thompson Data survey conducted for Wunderman Thompson Intelligence in March 2022. Leading financial institutions share the sentiment, and are predicting that the metaverse will become a significant economic force. The metaverse economy could grow to $13 trillion by 2030, according to April 2022 analysis from Citi. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have each called the metaverse an $8 trillion market opportunity, while JPMorgan labeled the metaverse a $1 trillion annual opportunity in February 2022.

Leading financial and political players are taking steps to embrace digital economies. The New York Stock Exchange is preparing for NFT and cryptocurrency trading with a trademark application, filed in February 2022, for a virtual trading marketplace. Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, announced when he was elected in November 2021 that he would take his first three paychecks in Bitcoin, following Miami mayor Francis Suarez’s pledge earlier that month to receive his next paycheck in Bitcoin.

And yet, there is a lack of clarity around the metaverse. While the vast majority of global consumers (78%) report having some awareness of cryptocurrency, only 15% say they know what it is and can explain it well to someone else, Wunderman Thompson Data research for Wunderman Thompson Intelligence shows. Finance brands are stepping in to fill the gap in crypto education.

WEB fidelity decentraland

Fidelity Investments launched a financial education center in the metaverse in April 2022. Located in Decentraland, each of the eight floors of the virtual space helps educate visitors on investing basics, the metaverse, and Fidelity's new metaverse exchange-traded fund (ETF). The center was created to "engage and inform a new generation of investors," the brand said.

In February 2022, Mastercard expanded its consultancy services to cover cryptocurrency, NFTs and open banking. The new suite of services will help banks and businesses adopt digital assets like cryptocurrency and NFTs, address risk assessment for digital currencies and NFTs, and advise in the development of digital wallets, crypto credit cards, and crypto loyalty programs.

“This evolution of consulting is in recognition of the changing world and of our changing business. It’s about helping customers navigate today’s challenges and anticipating what’s next,” says Raj Seshadri, president of data and services at Mastercard.

Visa launched a crypto advisory service for financial institutions and merchants in December 2021. The new service is aimed at financial institutions eager to attract or retain customers with crypto offerings, retailers looking to delve into NFTs, or central banks exploring digital currencies, the company said.

The US Treasury launched a campaign to educate the public about crypto risks in March 2022. Nellie Liang, US Treasury undersecretary for domestic finance, said in an interview that the initiative aims to raise awareness about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies as the digital asset moves from the fringes of the financial system to the mainstream, as reported by Reuters. The US Treasury’s newly established Financial Literacy Education Commission will be responsible for creating educational materials and organizing outreach to inform the public about how crypto assets work and how they differ from other forms of payment.

“We’re hearing more and more about investors and households who are purchasing crypto assets, and we recognize the complexity of how some of these assets operate,” Liang said. “It felt like this is an area also where more education (and) more awareness could be helpful.”

As the metaverse takes off, it is launching new retail avenues and a nascent digital goods economy - all of which will inform spending habits. Creating a new metanomics ecosystem. But first, education needs to take place. The future of digital economies hinges not only on adoption but also on education, for both consumers and brands.

For more on the metaverse, keep an eye out for our upcoming report, "New Realities: Into the Metaverse and Beyond."

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