Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Into the bankingverse with Nvidia

0 11

Once upon a time you had to go to a bank branch to carry out transactions. Today, you can move money at the click of a mobile app button. Courtesy of Nvidia, we now have a new vision for the bank of tomorrow — and it’s powered by web3. Naturally.

Buried in an excitable press release about a new partnership with Deutsche Bank on artificial intelligence, Nvidia has an intriguing line that “future use cases will explore immersive metaverse experiences with banking clients.” (that reference to the metaverse is absent in Deutsche’s own version of the release).

At a time when crypto is brutally punching itself in the face and Meta seems determined to become the first mega cap to become a small cap there’s something almost perversely heartening about the resiliency of metaverse hype.

Nvidia’s intriguing plans are, perhaps unsurprisingly, not unprecedented — banks have been setting up stalls in virtual worlds for over a decade and a half.

Back in 2005 Wells Fargo launched its own personal “Stagecoach Island” in the digital world Second Life as an education tool. Perhaps it was the potential for cross-selling that attracted it.

A year later ABN Amro opened a branch in Second Life. The FT reported at the time it had held a job interview session there, but also that it had no targets on return on investment. Probably just as well.

In the age of the blockchain, JPMorgan stole the limelight in February by opening up a lounge in Decentraland, a proof-of-concept to accompany a whitepaper on opportunities in the metaverse. FTAV visited it for this story, and found two empty floors of virtual video screens and documents, set in a virtual mall so lifeless and sterile that it makes Canary Wharf on a weekend look like Portobello Road (though the metaverses are, as a whole, sparsely populated).

The roaming tiger mentioned in reporting from the time was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it was seized as collateral in the big fat crypto margin call, but it could also have been bandwidth issues.

Yet does what Nvidia describes sounds more ambitious than its antecedents? Imagine, if you will, a future in which ultra high net-worth clients meet legless avatars of private bankers from private jets; where retail customers get to queue in cyber space to speak to a low-poly adviser about their mortgage difficulties; in which job interviews look like something out of The Lawnmower Man.

Nvidia did not respond to a request for comment, so we’ll have to wait and see what they envisioned. At the moment, it’s hard to envision what benefits a metaverse would have over any of the current ways of doing banking, not least given the unfinished state of most virtual worlds.

If banks did have spare cash lying around, they could do worse than putting more cash behind mitigating the wholesale loss of branch networks: over 600 closures have been announced in the UK alone this year.

Bricks-and-mortar might feel old-fashioned, but they offer a lot more bang for their buck than web3 shenanigans. But Nvidia has chips to sell now that bitcoin miners are going bust.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.