Immersive technologies – including AR, VR, and the illusive m-word – represent the next frontier of human exploration. In these virtual spaces, physical constraints fade away.

Among these technologies, the metaverse – though still early and undefined – could offer a digital landscape through which consumers and businesses interact. For example, financial institutions are exploring how the metaverse can improve internal operations, connect account holders with better services, and improve financial literacy.

Zeroing in on the latter, financial literacy is the ability of a person to manage their finances, including budgeting, savings, and debt. While a crucial skill for any person, these topics are often outdated, ignored, and underdeveloped in school systems. Children and adults also commonly find finances stressful, if not unengaging.

However, financial literacy could significantly improve with the gamification and increased connectivity of the metaverse. Millions of people are already exploring digital worlds in games like Minecraft. These worlds often already have educational content baked into them, like historical references and mathematical puzzles in games like Poptropica. In this way, integrating financial education is natural and even expected by users.

With an estimated 25% of people spending at least one hour on the metaverse by 2026, there are ample opportunities for users to improve financial literacy in interactive and immersive environments. Here are just a few…

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1. Immersive Banking Tasks

Primarily, the metaverse allows users to personalize their experience with financial services. Instead of traveling in a crowded bus downtown to the bank and waiting in a long and winding line, a customer could slide on their headset and “walk” their avatar to the virtual bank. Opening accounts, depositing checks, and managing loans are all within the realm of possibility here.

Avatars can do more than tasks too. Milling about and exploring the financial institution can take them to hangout spaces where they can speak to advisors and even attend seminars.

The immersive world of the metaverse also allows users to learn about managing their finances from professionals and implement financially literate activities like keeping up with current economic events into their routines.

What might have before felt like a tedious trip turns into a chance to treat finances as an exploratory mission or game. In this aspect, users are more likely to take courses and contact financial advisors about their financial health.

2. Gamification For All Ages

A recent study on financial education reveals a striking reality. Only 57% of US adults qualify as financially literate. While they may know enough to pay bills and live through the day, their skills and knowledge may be lacking in other areas like savings, risk tolerance, and credit management.

If adults need help grasping these concepts, then children may have an even tougher time. However, the metaverse offers an opportunity to appeal to and educate both groups. The answer is gamification.

In 2022, Fidelity Investments rolled onto the metaverse landscape. Their Fidelity Stack building prepares for entertainment and education, with a bouncing dance floor and chances to collect glowing orbs of information about stocks and mutual funds. With games and dazzling visuals sprinkled throughout, Fidelity hopes to teach people of all ages about these core topics in financial literacy.

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3. Experimental Role Playing

Gamification can go one step further with role-playing games. Chipotle famously offered Burrito Builder on Roblox and financial institutions can follow a similar path. Imagine an avatar behind the counter, delivering funds to the right customers or guiding investments.

Life-simulation games could include mini-games to earn virtual currency (with no real-world value) for a virtual home or trendy clothing items on their avatar. With their “coins,” they would mirror financial tasks in the real world, like opening savings accounts and withdrawing from ATMs. These games need not be flashy or fantastical to be fun. True-to-life games like the Sims already draw in millions of people every year.

What users perform in the metaverse prepares them for tasks in their everyday lives.

4. Robust Customer Support

Financial literacy can improve in the operations side of these institutions as well. While onboarding, new employees take virtual tours or “time travel” through company history. With AI in the metaverse, they can practice their skills before working with customer avatars.

These AI avatars also answer basic questions, allowing customers to feel supported in their decision-making at all hours.

With immersive training experiences, employees are better equipped to boost the education and service of their customers.

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Diving into the Metaverse as a Financial Institution

Getting started involves digital replications of the real world, whether that’s a model of the HQ or a new, whimsical representation. Institutions must seek seamless connectivity and specialized graphics to support these digital spaces.

One critical note to remember is cybersecurity. Financial institutions protect a wealth of customer credentials and access to funds. A criminal actor could attack through uncompromised access points and unsecured meeting rooms. Manipulations of avatar appearance to impersonate employees and advisors may be another reality.

As preparations for integration begin, these institutions must invest in multi-factor authentication and digital encryption to protect customers and data alike.

In the digital landscape of the metaverse, people of all ages can enhance their financial literacy. With better advisory connectivity, stronger customer services, and opportunities to build knowledge, users engage in thrilling gameplay with new knowledge in their back pockets.

The metaverse is the next frontier and its educational benefits are just the beginning of a brighter, better-connected world.

Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief of Rehack and editorial contributor at AR Insider. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.

Header image credit: micheile henderson on Unsplash 

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