To get an idea of how society changes along with technology, and technology changes society, consider this:
The pandemic has meant that, in search of distractions, platforms, joysticks, virtual reality headsets on hand, more than half of the US population is going online to play.
Gamers are a devoted group seeking the fun that comes with the whirlwind of graphics, with communities around the world, connected in real time.
They are willing to pay for the privilege as well. And gradually the metaverse can fully blossom.
Seventy-one percent of gamers play games weekly — and spend an average of $61 a year on them. Multiply that annual expenditure by hundreds of millions, and it’s no wonder that gaming was a $180 billion industry even in 2020.
This is how economies take shape within these virtual ecosystems. But payment problems arise, partly related to the complexity of managing cross-border transactions.
In an interview with Karen Webster of PYMNTS, Scott DamassaeCommerce, NAM’s tech, comms and gaming sales head at Citi, TTS, and Aman ChadhaeCommerce, APAC’s tech, communications and gaming sales head at Citi, TTS, said the advanced infrastructure potentially makes it easier for various stakeholders to monetize the video game ecosystem.
Damassa pointed out that the gaming world has come a long way since the days of the Atari 2600 decades ago.
“You used to go to your local store, buy a box of software, it was a physical drive, it was a cartridge, it was whatever. And that’s all. Game over,” he said. Pay $40, get the game cartridge, in other words.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the subscription model is taking over, with add-ons and skins and all kinds of ways to stay engaged with consumers. There are multiple points of contact between players, platforms and even advertisers to connect and transact. (There is even money to be made where people look other people play games.)
Behind the scenes, of course, there are revenues, royalties and fees that accrue to developers, publishers, and all kinds of content creators.
“Everyone wants to get paid quickly,” Damassa said, “and you can’t wait until the end of the month. In some cases you have to pay [creators] can continue to provide their services immediately.
This sense of urgency and desire for transparent money flows, Chadha said, extends far beyond gaming to all sorts of other platforms, including the gig economy. For financial institutions (FIs) and businesses, bundled payments are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of permanent commerce. It is possible for the payers themselves to charge a fee for speed and convenience.
Damassa and Chadha said platforms are forging connections between market economies and peer-to-peer networks that enable the exchange of goods and services.
Improved connectivity, Chadha said, “opens up a lot of possibilities.”
Developers in particular have a preference for alternative payment channels, including digital wallets – many of these makers may not have bank accounts. They highlighted Citi’s WorldLink payment services, which allow users to make payments in more than 135 currencies without having to maintain accounts in local currency.
The confluence of games, payment infrastructure and virtual reality (VR) strengthens the Metaverse trail, the two Citi executives said, bringing people to VR concert settings and other events.
The infrastructure to enable 3D shopping experiences and interactive digital storefronts is still under construction. For now, Chadha and Damassa said payments should be modular to work with different models as those models evolve.
Going forward, with payments integrated as part of the mix, Damassa highlighted the advantages the 3D metaverse will have over 2D offerings. The metaverse, he said, can bring commerce to any environment (including, say, the beach).
As a parallel, he offered the fact that in the early days of cinema film cameras were stuck ‘in’ studios and sets. Soon, of course, cameras and film technology became adept enough to go anywhere.
As Damassa told Webster of the Metaverse, “We’re waiting for our recording moment.”