Where the Metaverse Can Take FinTech

Stephane Kasriel
6 min readMay 11, 2022

We are at an inflection point. The beginning of the next chapter for the internet. An opportunity to break down barriers and democratize access to and ownership of goods and services. The metaverse will transform the way people connect, businesses grow, and creators make a living. And with it, bring about better social experiences than anything that exists today, and a digital economy that supports millions of creators and businesses.

There’s been good interest recently around how we might approach payments and financial services in the metaverse. While it’s all still very early, I think it’s important to shed some light on how we’re thinking about it.

Why We’re Bullish About Web3

It’s no secret that we’re very optimistic about Web3 — both the technologies and principles it encompasses. Blockchain is already showing the profound impact it can have, although it’s early compared to where we think it’s going. It has brought about new ways to buy and sell digital goods by enabling creators to monetize their passions through tokens. It has enabled new ways to exchange value, and participate in communities and network governance. And there’s good reason to believe that blockchain will be fundamental to people’s interactions in the metaverse, which is why we’re expanding our efforts to support greater Web3 compatibility.

The metaverse has the potential to be much more interoperable and portable than many online experiences available today. As a user, you’ll want to be able to bring your avatar and your identity with you across different worlds and environments. If you buy something inside one environment, you’ll want to be able to use it in another. As a creator, you’re not going to want to feel locked into islands of content. You’re going to want to have a relationship with your fans irrespective of a specific platform and be able to sell a subscription or package that benefits your audience across all the different places where you want to show up. That’s why decentralization and compatibility with this aspect of blockchain is going to be critical. That said, centralized systems will continue to play an important role. In fact, the most important systems are often a hybrid of both. Centralization to provide ease of use and promote more mainstream adoption. And decentralization to facilitate more opportunity through the creation of new tools that anyone can use. An example of this hybrid model that comes to mind for me is people choosing to buy decentralized crypto assets and keep them in a wallet from a crypto company that they know and trust.

Creators are already looking to new types of digital assets to give them more control over their work, their relationship with their fans, and an ability to monetize both. Imagine a world where entertainers or athletes can sell NFTs that fans purchase to display in their virtual Horizon Homes. Or imagine all of this coming together when your favorite artist is playing a concert in the metaverse and shares an NFT you can buy to get a backstage pass for after the show. We recently announced our first NFT offering — a test of digital collectibles on Instagram — and we’re taking important steps to encourage openness and innovation by enabling connection to multiple blockchains and wallets at the outset. We’re excited to bring the test to Facebook soon.

Beyond NFTs, there’s a multitude of other Web3 tokens that we think are compelling — social tokens, community tokens, governance tokens — as well as tokenized real-world assets. There are a lot of opportunities here, and we’re taking steps to understand them better and what they could mean for the metaverse. A democratic ownership economy combined with interoperability can unlock more innovation and value creation, which ultimately will increase the GDP of the metaverse.

What We’re Doing Now For The Future

The metaverse isn’t just about new technologies. It’s as much, if not more, about continuing to deliver critical social experiences like we do today across our family of apps. It’s also about continuing to build a strong ecosystem full of opportunities for millions of creators and businesses. And that’s what we are doing, while also looking towards the future. There are a few ways we’re thinking about this.

First, we’re investing more in our existing payments experiences. We’ve been in payments since 2009. Today, people and businesses use our platforms to make payments in 160 countries and 55 currencies. That includes person to person, business to business, and business to consumer payments. The experience that people see today is Facebook Pay, but we’ll be bringing that closer to the Meta brand soon by renaming it Meta Pay. We’re focused on enhancing the payments experiences we already provide with Facebook Pay where we’re seeing good adoption. And with this, an emphasis on quality in the countries that we are already in, rather than expanding to new countries right now.

In the US, we’ve brought new payments features to Messenger, including the /pay command, ability to split payments, birthday cash gifting, and QR codes to send or request money. In Brazil, we’ve been investing in partnerships with local financial institutions so we can better serve people who historically have not had access to safe and convenient digital payments. In India, where millions of people and businesses are coming online for the first time, we’re continuing to help onboard the next five hundred million Indians to digital payments. We’ve introduced new features to make sending money as easy as sending a message, like including the ₹ Rupee symbol within the WhatsApp chat composer and expressive stickers and backgrounds to celebrate cultural milestones like Diwali and Holi. And in Thailand, where entire businesses are run on WhatsApp and Messenger, we’re building ways for people to ask questions about specific products, make purchases, and receive order confirmations, tracking numbers and delivery status updates in real time — all within Messenger.

Second, we’re looking at how we further simplify the payments experience across our platforms now, so that people and businesses can access the benefits of interoperability in the metaverse. We view this as a single wallet experience for people to use to represent who they are, what they own, and how they pay. We’re in the very early stages of scoping out what a single wallet experience might look like and will have more to say further down the line. But to break down our early thinking, we’re looking at: how you can prove who you are and carry that identity into different experiences in the metaverse; how you can store the digital goods you own and take them with you wherever you go; and how you can pay easily and with the payment method you want, whether that’s to a friend or buying from a business or creator.

We see this as an important opportunity to bring more people into the financial system. Today, 1.7 billion people globally do not have access to basic financial services. One of the main reasons is because they do not have official forms of identification. In fact, 1 billion people do not have formal proof of their identity. Solving this problem could lead to so many people being able to access basic financial services for the first time. We’ve seen first hand that when people can access financial tools, they’re more empowered to support themselves and others, or start a business.

Third, we’re doing more to help businesses and creators better acquire and serve their customers and fans today. Because the metaverse has the potential to unlock even more commerce opportunities and make entirely new businesses possible. This could not be more timely given the global pandemic has been particularly devastating for small businesses, forcing one in five to close down. For businesses, we’re investing further in messaging commerce and streamlining the overall checkout experience for their customers. For creators, we’re continuing our investments to help them monetize through new products and features that streamline payouts. You can expect to see more from us in these areas throughout the year.

Where We’re Going

Our path forward is grounded in our mission to empower everyone, everywhere to access the world’s financial system to accelerate financial inclusion and economic empowerment. Designing products and infrastructure with the metaverse in mind today will help facilitate innovation that delivers greater access and real cost savings — before the metaverse even becomes mainstream. Now is the time to lay down the building blocks for the future. Because once that foundation is in place, the potential of the metaverse, and where it can take fintech next, will be limitless.

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Stephane Kasriel

Leading Commerce & Financial Technologies at Meta. Previously CEO of Upwork, early at PayPal and co-founder of a few tech companies.