Investment banking giant JPMorgan Chase has set up shop in the Metajuku mall. The bank's lounge features a spiral staircase, a live tiger and an illuminated portrait of CEO Jamie Dimon.
The capture? JPMorgan's recent digs aren't taking place in the real world, but rather on Decentraland, one of the world's most popular Metaverse platforms.
The launch of the bank's Metaverse coincided with the publication of an article by Onyx, JPMorgan's blockchain arm, published in 2020 that explored the opportunities offered by the Metaverse.
And JPMorgan is optimistic: The bank projects that the Metaverse will become a $1 trillion annual revenue opportunity as its virtual worlds "will infiltrate every industry in some way for years to come," the report said .
JPMorgan is the first bank to establish a Metaverse office. But it follows the now well-worn path of big brands, companies, and influencers entering the metaverse.
The Metaverse consists not of one, but of several virtual worlds; the most popular are browser-based Decentraland; Sandbox, owned by Animoca Brands of Hong Kong; and Roblox, the favorite of kids and teens. Users use digital avatars to explore these virtual lands where they can socialize, play games, buy real estate, browse art, or shop.
Over the past few months, companies have plummeted into the Metaverse. Retail and entertainment brands from Walmart and Nike to Disney and Warner Music Group participated in the race. Warner Music, the entertainment giant that hosts a star-studded roster of artists including Dua Lipa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is currently building a concert-focused theme park on the Metaverse platform Sandbox. Luxury brand Gucci has acquired land on the same platform to develop a space to host "immersive experiences" and sell digital fashion items aimed at Gen Z. The Sandbox has partnered with more than 200 companies, brands and individuals, including the rappers. Snoop Dogg, sportswear maker Adidas and Japanese games maker Atari, the report said.
But companies across a wide range of industries are now finding use cases for the Metaverse, including smaller firms in architecture, real estate, and even tax and accounting. US-based accounting firm Prager Metis, for example, opened its three-story Metaverse headquarters in Decentraland last month. The company "constantly receives requests from ... clients trying to understand the Metaverse from a financial and tax compliance perspective," says Jerry Eitel, a partner at Prager Metis. "Any tax and accounting problem [that applies to corporations] in real life is also applicable to the metaverse," he says.
The real estate sector has also seen a boom in the economies of the metaverse. Virtual land sales have been fueled by the growth of the "property economy" in Web3, a new iteration of the Internet that has been touted by enthusiasts as decentralized, equitable and user-driven. Virtual real estate is a "growth market," according to JPMorgan, and brands have contributed by "buying space to create virtual stores and other experiences." The average price for a virtual land pack doubled in just six months last year, rising from $6,000 in June to $12,000 in December across all four major Metaverse platforms, the report said.
Last June, developer Everyrealm (formerly known as Republic Realm) bought a piece of land from Decentraland for $913,000. The property has now become the Metajuku business district, which houses the JPMorgan lounge. Eventually, the virtual real estate market will "start to see services like ... loans, mortgages, and leases," JPMorgan says.
The development of the metaverse economy has created jobs both online and offline. Companies from apparel to tech companies are on a Metaverse hiring tour. JPMorgan predicts that some people will become “temporaries” of the metaverse, earning income by providing services in the virtual world.