Technology Reviews

Financial Services for Gamers: A Rising Paradigm?

(Note: Virtual currencies here represent any in-game currency, whether crypto or Runescape gold.)

Video games have had a rocky journey.

In 1982, we wanted to restrict young people from playing video games (🤔) due to the unknown psychological damage, rising truancy, a supposed increase in violent behavior, and because game parlors could become a nest for drug dealers.

Then in 1983, we thought gaming was dead.

But as the gaming industry restabilized, passionate gamers fueled interest in the virtual world and created a new sporting concept. Eventually, scholars started wondering just how virtual these virtual worlds were.

Today, metaverse gaming and play-to-earn concepts are a continuation of this evolution. People and businesses are understanding that virtual worlds and finances are indeed worthy of their attention.

In-Game Currency

Once considered “fake” money, in-game currency is now understood to have real-life impacts and consequences.

This has resulted in calls for governments to regulate virtual economies, but also increasing interest on behalf of those offering commercial services, including providing in-game currency and goods as well as helping with account management.

We’ve realized that virtual economies (not just crypto) are increasingly influencing real economies. Think of when hyperinflation hit Venezuela and some residents managed to farm Runescape gold to help avoid poverty.

Against this backdrop, financial services providers may be stepping into the gaming world to help players manage their in-game assets.

In-Game Financial Services

We’ve acknowledged the benefits of some games on developing financial management skills in real life, and we’ve also created games specifically to hone these skills.

But this has mostly been a one-way street. It comes from a mindset that considers in-game life unimportant.

As many gamers are aware, this isn’t entirely true. You invest hours and sometimes money; it becomes your hobby and potentially even a side gig or a career.

And some financial services providers are getting the message.

HSBC (the largest bank in Europe) established its land in the Sandbox metaverse, focusing its metaverse strategy on sports, esports, and gaming. It makes sense, as sports are part of HSBC’s brand.

They see e-sports as a game-changer, and in April 2022 they partnered with ONE esportsto help players manage their assets in-game and in the physical world. Understanding the importance of in-game resource management, the partnership aimed to “produce content that will be focused on financial guidance inside MOBA games”.

So the focus isn’t just on crypto, it’s on virtual assets in general, especially in professional settings.

But, we know that professional gamers aren’t the only ones pouring effort and money into their virtual lives.

For one, there are regular gamers who also appreciate the need for strategic financial management, particularly during a time-limited match but also in the open world. Plus, other types of in-game assets also make up a player’s wealth and can tip the scales in battle.

Following HSBC’s example, could we eventually see the rise of in-game account managers and financial planners? Seasoned players are already known to provide services that help lower-level players advance in the game. Perhaps such jobs will become more widespread. More respected.

Outside of traditional gaming, we have an entire community focusing on the decentralized gaming metaverse. The number of financial services providers (TradFi and DeFi) making strides in the space is encouraging:

  • Warba Bank – First Islamic bank to enter The Sandbox to provide services to younger generations.
  • DBS Bank – DBS chose The Sandbox to build its BetterWorld experience, focusing on sustainability.
  • Hana Bank – Another Sandbox partnership to bring banking services to residents and promote investment opportunities
  • JP Morgan Chase – Leading the way on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, JP opened a lounge in Decentraland.
  • TerraZero – New player offering the first mortgages on virtual land assets.
  • Zelf Web3 Bank – New player planning to offer safe P2P trading of in-game assets for fiat money.

The presence of both TradFi and DeFi will add a special flavor to metaverse platforms. Aside from potentially offering crypto services, traditional finance institutions bring centuries of experience and best practices to the landscape, which I believe makes for a vibrant financial system (if they embrace the metaverse mindset).

Aside from regular financial management and new services, the immersive nature of the metaverse might bring new forms of banking; new ways to represent our financial assets. But this topic deserves a separate blog post.

In Conclusion

It was a rocky road. Many are finally able to see the true nature of gaming, the impact gaming economies have on the physical world, and the significance of financial management concepts in the virtual world.

It will be interesting to see how much these two worlds will interact. Financial services providers and FinTechs can provide financial guidance where it matters to professionals, but non-professional veteran gamers might also have some interesting business opportunities on the horizon.

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