DBS has created a virtual property in The Sandbox decentralised gaming world, becoming the first Singapore bank to hop into the metaverse to explore new Web 3.0 opportunities.
In a partnership with Hongkong-based Animoca Brands, which owns The Sandbox, DBS would buy a 3×3 plot of virtual real estate in the metaverse, which will be developed over time.
Called DBS BetterWorld, the piece of virtual land is aimed at showcasing the “importance of building a better, more sustainable world”, according to the bank today.
As part of its sustainability efforts, it would use the online platform to profile social entrepreneurs in Asia who have been driving positive impact through innovative business models.
The platform will also be used to showcase the bank’s efforts at promoting eco-conscious living among customers. Since 2021, it has been offering handy eco-friendly tips, channels to donate to sustainability causes, as well as investment opportunities in sustainability-themed funds.
As part of the partnership with The Sandbox, DBS will purchase carbon offsets such that the land and production on DBS BetterWorld will be carbon neutral.
As in the popular Minecraft and Roblox games, users can create their own virtual worlds in The Sandbox, complete with buildings and other items. However, The Sandbox is a metaverse that runs on the Ethereum blockchain technology.
That means users can potentially trade the items they have created or land they have purchased in the game world using blockchain technology.
“Metaverse technology, while still evolving, could also fundamentally change the way banks interact with customers and communities,” said DBS chief executive officer Piyush Gupta.
“Given the speed of change, experimenting and learning-by-doing enable us to best test the potential of various technologies,” he added.
Sebastien Borget, the chief operations officer and co-founder of The Sandbox, said DBS’ entry into the metaverse will join its efforts to create SingaporeVerse, a virtual neighbourhood that promises to bring the culture of Singapore to life in an engaging, equitable, inclusive way.
Details are still sketchy at this point, it must be pointed out. Plus, the effort does seem experimental, certainly when it comes to exploring new ways for DBS to engage and connect with customers.
However, DBS taking the lead here could just push other banks in Singapore and the region to start taking the metaverse more seriously. Being there early could be foolhardy but it can also learn you important lessons as a pioneer.