Singapore businesses counting on ESG and metaverse to fuel growth in 2023, poll finds

Metaverse refers to the next iteration of the Internet where people can experience life in a three-dimensional space. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE – Businesses here believe investments in the metaverse and sustainability will fuel growth in what is expected to be an uneasy year, a survey has noted.

It found that 66 per cent of financial services firms polled say they are investing in technology to improve reporting and disclosures around environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, while 59 per cent are developing new products and services in this area.

The inaugural survey, commissioned by New York-listed fintech firm FIS, noted that 61 per cent of these companies are investing in technology to provide more detailed ESG ratings of assets and securities.

And 53 per cent of financial services firms polled say they are looking for opportunities in the metaverse, while 40 per cent of non-financial services companies believe it is vital to have a presence in the metaverse in 2023.

Metaverse refers to the next iteration of the Internet, where people can experience life in a three-dimensional virtual space and in ways they cannot in the physical world.

The poll found that 56 per cent of financial services firms say decentralised finance (DeFi) is a major growth opportunity, while 33 per cent said the lack of clarity in crypto regulations is the key barrier to adoption. 

The survey found that most of the 160 executives polled believe the metaverse will have a significant impact on their operations in 2023, more so than developments in areas such as embedded finance, ESG, DeFi and cryptocurrencies.

The 160 participants from the Singapore survey included 70 from financial services firms such as banks and insurers and 90 from non-financial services companies in areas such as retail, food and beverage, travel, online content and gaming.

Businesses in Singapore are clear that ramping up investments in key areas like Web3, ESG and embedded finance is critical to tapping growth opportunities, said Mr Kanv Pandit, group managing director for the Asia-Pacific region for banking solutions at FIS.

“This responds to the Government’s ambition to solidify the city as an international fintech and innovation hub,” he said.

“We believe that merchants and financial services firms who are early to the game will be able to tap into the next opportunity for significant growth in online financial services and commerce.”

The survey of 2,000 executives in nine jurisdictions, including Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, the United States and Britain, was conducted between July and September 2022.

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