HSBC joins JPMorgan in betting on a metaverse future that could be worth trillions

Alan Monteiro
March 30, 2022

On Wednesday, Hong Kong–based bank HSBC said it would join the metaverse through a partnership with the Sandbox platform. The bank will be buying a plot of digital land in the virtual world and center it on sports, e-sports, and gaming, according to a Wednesday blog post by the Sandbox, although the two parties did not give further details.

“At HSBC, we see great potential to create new experiences through emerging platforms, opening up a world of opportunity for our current and future customers and for the communities we serve,” wrote Suresh Balaji, HSBC’s chief marketing officer for the Asia-Pacific region.

After HSBC announced it would be joining the Sandbox, the platform’s native cryptocurrency, SAND, jumped more than 11% on Wednesday to $3.01. The token was priced at about $2.96 as of Wednesday afternoon, still up 9%.

HSBC did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.

The bank’s move to buy digital real estate comes on the heels of JPMorgan Chase’s venture into the metaverse last month. The American banking giant created a lounge in another metaverse world, Decentraland, featuring a spiral staircase, a “live” tiger, and an illuminated picture of CEO Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan wrote in a report last month that the metaverse represents a $1 trillion market opportunity in the coming years. Projections from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been even rosier. Goldman said in January that the metaverse could be more like an $8 trillion opportunity. Morgan Stanley followed up in February by saying the metaverse would be worth $8 trillion in China alone.

So far, HSBC and JPMorgan are the only banks that have announced digital real estate outposts in the metaverse. Each has chosen two different platforms, with different strengths.

While the Sandbox is more games-focused, Decentraland is more focused on experiences and socializing. The major difference, though, is that Decentraland is up and running, whereas the Sandbox is still beta testing and rolling out updates and developments but is currently open to all.

But both worlds have received massive investment. The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Hong Kong gaming company Animoca Brands, raised $93 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 last November. For its part, Decentraland has raised about $25 million, according to Pitchbook data, including from the Sandbox’s parent company, Animoca Brands.

And aside from banks, all kinds of brands have bought themselves an outpost on one metaverse platform or another.

Samsung recently created a replica of its flagship store in New York City’s Meatpacking District in the metaverse platform Decentraland. In January, the record label conglomerate Warner Music Group said it planned to build a hybrid musical theme park and concert venue in the Sandbox.

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