JPMorgan Opens Virtual Lounge, Banking On Metaverse Infiltration

JPMorgan became the first U.S. bank to open a virtual space, dipping its toe into the metaverse ethers.

Experimenting with tech’s latest concept, the global investment bank has set up the “Onyx by J.P. Morgan” lounge, located in the three-dimensional virtual world platform, Decentraland. The space features a tiger roaming around an open area and a portrait of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Users of the two-year-old Decentraland may create, play games and buy and sell virtual real estate as NFTs via the MANA cryptocurrency.

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According to the bank’s recent report, “Opportunities in the metaverse,” the virtual market will be a $1 trillion market affecting every sector. Revenue will stream from advertising, social commerce, digital events, hardware and developer/creator monetization, and all types of companies will be involved, the research claims. As of now, this virtual world in which people can live, work, and play doesn’t yet exist, but early versions such as Decentraland are experimenting with the notion. The research suggests ways for businesses to discern hype from reality.

“The success of building and scaling in the metaverse is dependent on having a robust and flexible financial ecosystem that will allow users to seamlessly connect between the physical and virtual worlds,” the report says.

JPMorgan also issues a caveat, noting the changeability of the structure of the metaverse and the hesitation to lock in a business strategy. It does conclude, however, that the costs associated with building intellectual property and exploring partnerships are relatively low, outweighing the risks involved in sitting on the sidelines.

Other large corporations, including Samsung, Gucci, and Coca-Cola, have tread into metaverse waters, as well. In 2021, Gucci mounted a two-week virtual art installation which replicated a real live exhibit in Florence, Italy. Visitors could pay to dress their avatars in Gucci clothing. Coca-Cola hosted a virtual auction for “loot boxes” of NFTs.

Grayscale Investments contributed research to JPMorgan’s report.