SINGAPORE - DBS Bank is creating a metaverse virtual world that will allow users to experience building a better, more sustainable world.
Dubbed DBS BetterWorld, it will be accessible to members of the public, including non-DBS customers, for free.
For this venture, Singapore's largest bank is partnering The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based decentralised virtual gaming world.
DBS will acquire a 3x3 plot of Land - a unit of virtual real estate in The Sandbox metaverse - which will be developed with immersive elements such as buildings, plants and animals.
Along with The Sandbox, it will also purchase carbon offsets so that the land and production on BetterWorld will be carbon neutral.
The Straits Times understands that BetterWorld will be available when The Sandbox fully launches its metaverse, likely next year.
The blockchain gaming platform has so far released three seasons – multi-week testing events that allow Sandbox account holders to experience new features – with its third and biggest season unveiled last month.
The metaverse has been hailed as the future Internet, allowing users to interact through characters or avatars, and buy land or goods using digital currencies. Motion-sensing technologies also help bring these experiences to life - for example, by allowing users to speak to and feel the touch of another avatar.
DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said the biggest changes in the world of finance have been catalysed by digital advancements over the last decade.
"In the coming decade, driven by new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, these shifts have the potential to be even more profound.
"Metaverse technology, while still evolving, could also fundamentally change the way banks interact with customers and communities. Given the speed of change, experimenting and learning-by-doing enable us to best test the potential of various technologies," he said.
Mr Gupta added that DBS BetterWorld will be an additional platform for the bank to share about important environmental, social or governance (ESG) issues and shine a spotlight on communities and partners that are addressing them.
For example, it will use the platform to profile social entrepreneurs in Asia who have been driving positive impact through innovative business models.
DBS and the DBS Foundation have helped over 800 social enterprises across the region scale their businesses and awarded over $10 million in grants to nearly 100 social enterprises.
The bank said it will work with partners from the Government, community, business and technology sectors to develop concepts to enhance its BetterWorld experience.
It will also explore opportunities to showcase BetterWorld with its LiveBetter platform that was launched last October to encourage eco-conscious living among its customers. LiveBetter allows customers to access tips on sustainable living, channels to donate to causes, and investment opportunities in sustainability-themed funds.
DBS is the first Singapore company to partner The Sandbox and the first local bank to make a foray into the metaverse.
HSBC in March became the first global bank to partner The Sandbox, which is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based game software and venture capital company Animoca Brands.
The Sandbox chief operating officer and co-founder Sebastien Borget said DBS joins the platform's efforts to create the SingaporeVerse, a neighbourhood on its virtual map that will bring the culture of the country to life in the metaverse.
"ESG issues are important to us, and we look forward to collaborating on an experience that invites our audience to make a positive global impact, to discover the creative possibilities of our platform, and maybe to find their next life-changing opportunity in the metaverse."