Standard Chartered grabs virtual land as lenders ramp up investment in metaverse

Monday, April 25, 2022 1:04 p.m.

Emerging markets lender Standard Chartered today announced a push into the metaverse as it seizes some ground in the world of decentralized game The Sandbox.

The London-based lender’s Hong Kong subsidiary has become the first bank to acquire virtual property in The Sandbox’s “Mega City” district, which is thematically designed around Hong Kong.

Led by venture capital arm SC Ventures, Standard Chartered said it was now exploring opportunities to create “new customer experiences” in the metaverse.

“Our involvement in the metaverse allows us to reimagine our relationship with existing and potential customers on this new platform and our approach to improving customer journeys,” said Mary Huen, CEO of Standard Chartered Hong Kong.

“Having acquired virtual land in Mega City, a natural fit for the Bank given its distinctive Hong Kong theme, fits perfectly with our promise to build our continued presence in Hong Kong, whether physical or virtual.”

Developed by Hong Kong-based developer Animoca Brands, The Sandbox has been downloaded 40 million times and has 1.2 million active monthly users, according to the firm.

Standard Chartered’s move comes as lenders scramble to invest in the metaverse amid a virtual world cash flow boom rolled out by Mark Zuckerberg’s tech giant Meta last year.

JP Morgan opened the Onyx lounge at Decentraland earlier this year, another Metaverse platform, as it predicted the virtual world “will likely permeate every industry in one way or another in the years to come, with an estimated market opportunity of over $1 trillion in annual revenue.”

Like Standard Chartered, HSBC also pushed into The Sandbox by buying land earlier this year in a bid to connect with “sports, esports and gaming enthusiasts”.

Suresh Balaji, marketing director for Asia-Pacific at HSBC, said the metaverse is how people will “discover Web3, the next generation of the internet”.

“At HSBC, we see great potential for creating new experiences through emerging platforms,” ​​he added.

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