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Trust, the metaverse and everything: earning permission to play in financial services’ virtual future

Retooling financial services brand assets and experiences is the key to shaping credibility for an unknowable future. Success in the metaverse depends on it.

Hey Siri, define ‘metaverse’. Alexa? Google? Anyone? 

The truth is nobody knows what life in the metaverse will look like. 

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be preparing for a new era in the technology age, one that will make us realise that, to date, we have only scratched the surface of our virtual potential.

Forward thinking financial services brands should be laying the groundwork for a future – and a future customer – where trust bridges the physical-virtual divide. You need to earn permission to play in this new world. That process starts now.

Earning permission to play in the financial services metaverse

To some extent, the rules of engagement in a virtualised future are not so different from those that have driven the marketing approach of the past half century. But the medium and method need to be radically different. Trust will be the core currency of retaining brand credibility. But it won’t be conveyed by a photogenic couple hauling a newborn across the threshold of their new home on primetime TV. To truly embrace the metaverse, brands will need to properly consider how to engage a whole new generation of customers for whom the distinction between IRL (in real life) and VR is vague, if acknowledged at all.

Your customers’ world is changing, not their DNA. It is vital that financial brands are trusted because money is such an emotional matter. In a future that has either migrated to, or straddles, a virtual environment, the gossamer thread that allows people to trust their finances to an institution needs to be manufactured from space-grade materials.

How can financial services build emotional equity for the metaverse?

1. Recognition

Recognition triggers a feeling of familiarity, which is key to building trust in the real world. In the virtual world, financial services brands can build trust in the same way using multi-sensory brand assets, such as micro-interactions. Making these assets recognisable and repeatable creates a mental shortcut for customers, embedding a sense of familiarity and trust. This is VITAL in virtual spaces, as the experience may feel so deeply unfamiliar.

  • Audio

Think of the Netflix sound (i.e. “dum dum”) or the drop and ripple that introduces TED Talks. Think of the startup sound on a Mac (which Apple changed in 2016 from an ear-grating tritone to an unembellished C Major). Think about the voice of your smart speaker. As recognisable as jingles (if less annoying) these tiny audio cues tell the customer they are ringing your financial services brand’s metaphorical doorbell. They are sonic trust.

  • Tactility

Without a little effort, the virtual world can feel a bit flat. How can you add depth and meaning to your metaverse brand? Introducing haptics can help customers feel more involved in your virtual world; using 3D design can add texture and emotion; customisable interfaces can improve the experience while letting the customer know you recognise their individuality. You could even introduce playable assets, such as a logo they can spin while waiting for an approval. These are all trust nudges that play to your advantage in a virtual future.

  • Visual

You already have a static logo. It’s time to think about how that could be put into motion. Motion graphics can make financial services brands more recognisable and distinct. Does your brand zoom or glide? Roll or build? Land or fly? Open or close? In a world without the constraints of physics, how can your brand assets help tell your brand story and build trust? Could your financial services brand benefit from an avatar or character in the metaverse? Is that something to start seeding now?

2. Digital guidance

Brands that develop methods to acquaint their customers to emerging technologies will earn the right to be trusted guardians of the new era. In financial services, a balance needs to be struck between legacy customers used to a traditional approach and a digitally native generation that finds too much instruction intrusive. To achieve this, it’s important to develop the tools that allow everyone to be shepherded towards the metaverse at a digestible but progressive pace.

The guidance needs to be simple, human and adaptable. Clear, uninvasive signposting can help users to find support if they need it. The payoff comes in emotional brand equity, as well as helping brands achieve their goals in migrating customers to the metaverse.

3. Purpose

Be clear about your purpose. This will help prioritise your goals for the metaverse. What experiences and services do you plan to offer? How do those aims align with your wider purpose as a financial services operation? How does your purpose in the metaverse play alongside your existing brand? It is essential to get your purpose clear and have it make sense from a brand perspective. This will support your audiences to trust in your reason for being in the metaverse, even if you’re not positioned as a particularly progressive brand (as well as supporting internal prioritisation of resources!)

Why financial services brands need to think about the metaverse right now

As with other trends in technology, the metaverse has the potential to snowball quickly, leaving latecomers scrambling to catch up. The technology age is defined by the success of those who scout and deploy early, against those who do not.

And the metaverse isn’t a distant horizon in technological terms, even for financial brands. HSBC entered the Sandbox metaverse over a year ago. The Union Bank of India (UBI) also announced a virtual banking project last year. Others have dabbled and more will follow. Even the European Commission is backing the metaverse. Serial market leader Apple has announced its Vision Pro VR in a bid to do for virtual reality what it has previously done for MP3 players, mobile phones, tablets, wireless headphones and smartwatches.

There’s an opportunity to lead, and that means everything in the technological era. Amazon led. Spotify led. PayPal, eBay, Airbnb, Monzo – they all led. Being seen by your customers scrambling to catch up does little to engender trust. A whole generation has grown up with powerful new brands that eclipsed established companies. Forward thinking insulates you against more agile upstarts and protects your space in the market. That starts with building a reserve of trust designed for the metaverse.

Striking the right balance of familiarity and difference will allow established brands to really succeed in the metaverse. Financial institutions’ knowledge of their customers can empower them to seize this chance to create experiences – to create trust.

Hey Siri, when is the time to strike?

Our approach at Six is simple and built on experience, as well as a deeply human understanding of where and how credibility can be earned. 

Contact us for more information and help navigating AR, AI and the metaverse for your financial services brand: get in touch today


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