Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

In recent years, “DeFi” and cryptocurrencies have developed rapidly in some overseas countries, but they have also caused many controversies. Some viewpoints believe that with the gradual maturity of the concept of the Metaverse, a financial system based on cryptocurrency and “DeFi” and integrating the idea of ​​decentralization may emerge. There are also viewpoints that cryptocurrency is a valueless bubble, and the fusion of the Metaverse and the financial system Development must be based on reality. From a practical point of view, this article addresses the rich possibilities and challenges associated with the fusion of the financial system and the Metaverse.

Summary

Two paths for the integration and development of the Metaverse and the financial system: “Metaverse Finance” vs. “Financial Metaverse”. The Metaverse is a digital world with a new economy, identity, and institutional system based on technologies such as mixed reality and digital modeling, built with decentralized thinking. Since the “virtual world of the Metaverse” represents our desire for a “new life” and our boundless imagination for the unknown world, we make it all-encompassing when imagining it so that it can be filled with all expectations. However, for traditional financial institutions that want to participate in the construction of the Metaverse, such a virtual world is too far away and the entry point is rather vague. From a practical point of view, we believe that the integration and development of the financial system and the Metaverse originates more from the development of the underlying technologies of the Metaverse and the extension of scenarios, and brings new development opportunities to the financial system based on technologies and scenarios. Finance” and “Financial Metaverse” two development paths.

“Metaverse Finance”: Supporting Metaverse economic activities within a decentralized narrative framework. Based on the definition of the Metaverse, we believe that the financial system in the Metaverse will be based on decentralized thinking and distributed ledger technology (such as blockchain), starting from payment, and gradually develop into various segments such as lending and trading. In the field of financial activities, it will further expand to the dimensions of asset confirmation and social organization, thereby providing support for the Metaverse economic activities under the decentralization framework. At present, because different countries and regions around the world embrace “Metaverse finance” differently, its development also faces challenges and risks from technology, market, operation and supervision.Looking forward to the future, we believe that under the current state sovereignty and social form, it is difficult for a completely decentralized Metaverse financial system to widely exist, but its decentralization concept, blockchain and smart contract technology, and innovations in some models, etc. It can still provide a useful reference for the development of the financial system.

“Financial Metaverse”: The concept and technology of the Metaverse provides an imaginary space for the digital transformation of financial institutions. On the one hand, with the gradual development of the Metaverse, the application of its underlying technologies such as modeling and rendering, interactive technology, Internet of Things, network computing power, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other technologies is expected to accelerate. We believe that financial institutions will benefit from Rapid development of related technologies, better realization of digital transformation goals such as business innovation, process transformation, and organizational change; on the other hand, Metaverse outlines a virtual world with digital native capabilities and even a complete economic and social system for us We believe that the immersive experience brought by the Metaverse and the realism of virtual elements will provide a richer imagination for online collaboration, online business development and customer experience upgrades for financial institutions.

risk

Uncertainty in industry policy and regulation; technological development is less than expected; commercialization process is less than expected.

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Metaverse and Finance: A Financial System Under the Combination of Virtual and Real

Two paths for the integrated development of the Metaverse and finance: “Metaverse Finance” vs. “Financial Metaverse”

The Metaverse is a digital world with a new economy, identity, and institutional system based on technologies such as mixed reality and digital modeling, built with decentralized thinking. Since the “virtual world of the Metaverse” represents our desire for a “new life” and our boundless imagination for the unknown world, we make it all-encompassing when imagining it so that it can be filled with all expectations. However, for traditional financial institutions that want to participate in the construction of the Metaverse, such a virtual world is too far away and the entry point is rather vague.From a practical point of view, we believe that the integration and development of the financial system and the Metaverse is more derived from the development of the underlying technology of the Metaverse and the extension of scenarios, and brings new development opportunities to the financial system based on technologies and scenarios.

In recent years, the decentralized financial system represented by cryptocurrencies has developed rapidly in some overseas countries, but it has also caused many controversies. Some views believe that with the gradual maturity of the concept of the Metaverse, a financial system based on cryptocurrency and “DeFi” and integrating the idea of ​​decentralization may emerge. There are also views that cryptocurrency is a valueless bubble, and the integration of the Metaverse and finance comes down to the root. In the end, it still has to settle on reality. At the same time, we also see that more and more financial institutions use the Metaverse as one of the starting points for digital transformation. On the one hand, they go deep into the Metaverse and try to explore new financial services around the development of the Metaverse. On the other hand, it focuses on using the related technologies and scenarios of the Metaverse to empower its digital transformation and expand new channels.

Therefore, we believe that the fusion development of finance and the Metaverse can be divided into two paths: 1) “Metaverse Finance”: Based on the definition of the Metaverse, we believe that the financial system in the Metaverse will be based on decentralized ideas and distribution. Ledger technology (such as blockchain) is the cornerstone, starting from payment, and gradually develops into various subdivided financial activities such as lending and trading, and further expands to asset confirmation, social organization and other dimensions, and then becomes a decentralized framework. 2) “Financial Metaverse”: In the context of the continuous acceleration of the digital transformation of financial institutions, the maturity of the underlying technology of the Metaverse and the continuous extension of its scenarios are expected to further promote the digital transformation of financial institutions and provide The digital transformation path and final form bring more possibilities.

“Metaverse Finance”: Supporting Metaverse Economic Activities within a Decentralized Narrative Framework

On the whole, Metaverse Finance has developed rapidly in recent years, which is manifested by the rapid expansion of user scale, continuous innovation of product functions, and continuous expansion of service dimensions. However, compared with the traditional financial system, its scale is still relatively small, and its penetration rate into the real economy is relatively small. Still at a low level, it has not yet been able to widely serve the real financial needs, and the future prospects are still uncertain.

At the same time, Metaverse Finance also faces challenges and risks from technology, market, operation, supervision and other aspects, including: 1) Defects at the technical application level lead to structural problems within Metaverse Finance; 2) Power at the level of operational governance Excessive centralization and inefficiency make Metaverse Finance uncompetitive and attractive; 3) Excessive speculative transactions and high leverage at the market structure level lead to systemic risks, impacting the trust and consensus of Metaverse Finance; 4) Regulatory policies differ from country to country. Large, leading to the fragmentation of the development of Metaverse finance.

Looking forward to the future, we believe that under the current state sovereignty and social form, it is difficult for a completely decentralized Metaverse financial system to widely exist, but its decentralization concept, blockchain and smart contract technology, and innovations in some models, etc. It can still provide a useful reference for the development of the financial system.

At the same time, we believe that the future Metaverse Finance may be a more transparent, efficient and inclusive financial system based on the central bank and other regulatory agencies, with centralized and decentralized financial institutions as the main body of operation . In the process of integration and development of the Metaverse and the traditional financial system, the current Metaverse Finance may gradually be incorporated into the regulatory framework, build a compliant entrance, and improve the stability of the financial system. At the same time, it is also expected to empower the traditional financial system and continue to optimize the traditional financial system. The efficiency and experience of financial services, promote the reduction of intermediary agency problems, system operating costs and user access barriers.

“Financial Metaverse”: Metaverse technologies and scenarios provide more possibilities for digital transformation of financial institutions

From a practical point of view, with the continuous acceleration of the digital transformation of financial institutions, we believe that the practical significance of the “Metaverse” for traditional financial institutions is more due to the continuous maturity of its underlying technology and the imagination brought by the continuous extension of its scenarios. Further promote the digital transformation of financial institutions, and bring more abundant possibilities and imagination to the path and final form of their digital transformation.

On the one hand, with the gradual development of the “Metaverse”, the application of its underlying technologies such as modeling and rendering, interactive technology, Internet of Things, network computing power, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other technologies is expected to accelerate. We believe that financial institutions will Benefiting from the rapid development of related technologies, it can better achieve digital transformation goals such as business innovation, process transformation, and organizational transformation; The virtual world picture of the system, we believe that the immersive experience brought by the “Metaverse” and the realism of virtual elements will provide financial institutions with a richer imagination space for online collaboration, online business development, and customer experience upgrades.

Figure 1: Converged Development of Finance and the Metaverse

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CICC Research

Metaverse Finance is developing rapidly but there are still many challenges, and it may be integrated with the centralized system in the future

The Metaverse financial system is developing rapidly, but there is a trend of “departing from the real to the virtual” and asset bubbles

Under the decentralized narrative framework, the Metaverse financial system starts from basic payment and gradually develops into various subdivided financial activities such as lending and trading, and further expands to the dimensions of asset confirmation and social organization. On the whole, Metaverse Finance has developed rapidly in recent years, but compared with the traditional financial system, its scale is still relatively small, and its future prospects are still uncertain.

Figure 2: Metaverse Finance continues to expand service dimensions

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CICC Research

Payment and Clearing: Cryptocurrencies from “Realization from Reality to Virtuality”

As the starting point of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was designed at the beginning as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that can operate without intermediaries. However, while the past decade has seen explosive growth in the variety of cryptocurrencies, with the overall market cap growing to $2.37 trillion by the end of 2021, their use is mostly concentrated in the area of ​​speculative trading within the crypto-economy, with fewer enabling entities The payment and settlement links in the economy have shown a trend of “disappearance of reality and falsehood”, and have formed a large price bubble.

Exhibit 3: Ample liquidity has spawned a crypto-asset bubble

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Federal Reserve, Wind, CICC Research

Figure 4: The number of global cryptocurrencies has grown rapidly since 2018

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Statista, CICC Research

We believe that the decoupling of cryptocurrencies from payment and settlement activities is mainly due to: 1) The lack of intrinsic value and the lack of endorsement by a centralized institution makes it difficult for it to assume monetary functions; 2) There is an “impossible triangle” in the decentralized payment and settlement system. , it is difficult for cryptocurrencies to ensure security and achieve scale at the same time; 3) The current digital payment and settlement system is more efficient, and a relatively solid bilateral network and user habits have been built, so it is difficult for cryptocurrencies to compete with them.

First of all, the value of cryptocurrencies fluctuates greatly, and most of them have no intrinsic value, so it is difficult to assume the function of basic currency. Cryptocurrencies mainly rely on unstable “consensus” without the endorsement of intermediaries to form prices. However, because most cryptocurrencies are decoupled from the real economy and have no intrinsic value, it is difficult for their investors to maintain a stable “consensus”, resulting in large price fluctuations of cryptocurrencies, and it is difficult to assume the function of basic currency. The follow-up speculators it attracted further promoted speculative transactions and formed a vicious circle, making the cryptocurrency with point-to-point decentralized payment function out of the real payment and settlement needs.

Figure 5: After El Salvador set bitcoin as legal tender, its bitcoin investment has lost more than 50%

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Bloomberg, Jinshi Data, CICC Research

Second, on the basis of decentralization, cryptocurrencies currently face the challenge of simultaneously maintaining security and achieving scale. A fully decentralized cryptocurrency built on a public chain needs to provide reasonable incentives to attract participants (such as “miners”) to support the operation of the public chain. With the expansion of the scale and performance of the public chain, its transaction costs may decline and drive the marginal decline of economic incentives. Therefore, in order to achieve further scale, a decentralized public chain needs to establish an economic mechanism that can not only support scale expansion and performance upgrade, but also continue to provide higher incentives. Although the cross-chain protocol can strengthen the interoperability between the blockchains and increase the upper limit of the blockchain transaction scale, there is still room for improvement in terms of security.

Exhibit 6: Decentralization-based cryptocurrencies are currently facing the challenge of achieving both security and scale

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: BIS, CICC Research

Finally, the existing digital payment and settlement system is more efficient, and it may be difficult for cryptocurrencies to subvert the payment field. 1) In terms of payment performance, due to the technical design of cryptocurrencies to ensure decentralized consensus and security as the main goal, there is still a certain gap between them and leading electronic payment companies; 2) In terms of bilateral network scale, current cryptocurrencies The penetration rate of the real economy is still low, and it relies more on electronic payment companies (such as Shopify, Visa) to provide support, and payment transactions still operate on a centralized system; 3) In terms of user habits, bank cards and electronic wallets are still It is the first choice for digital payment methods. Even if the user experience is similar, it is difficult for cryptocurrencies to subvert the more solid user habits.

Figure 7: Bitcoin has no significant advantage in micropayment rates

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Company announcement, YCharts, CICC Research; Note: Calculated at USD 50 per transaction, PayPal (credit/debit/PayPal Credit transfer), Venmo (credit card transfer), Cash App (credit card transfer) rates Fixed, Bitcoin payment cost ~0.0002 BTC/pen, Bitcoin price in 2014 is $500, 2020-2021 Bitcoin price is $25,000

Figure 8: Bitcoin payments lag behind e-wallets and card organizations in speed

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Company announcement, CICC Research; Note: Bitcoin transactions per second are theoretical values, PayPal transactions per second are actual values ​​in 2020, Visa transactions per second are the transaction volumes it supports ( Actual value of transactions per second < 65,000)

DeFi: an incomplete mapping of the traditional financial system

The concept of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) was born in 2018. Brendan Forster announced the birth of the concept of DeFi in “Announcing De.Fi, A Community for Decentralized Finance Platforms”: a concept based on decentralized blockchain, A financial system that is completely open source and has a stable developer platform.

On the whole, DeFi does not rely on centralized intermediaries such as brokerages, exchanges or banks, but uses smart contracts on the blockchain to complete financial transactions. The core feature of “ideal DeFi” is that no party can unilaterally: 1) control the account; 2) review the execution of transactions; 3) review the execution of the protocol.

As of the end of June 2022, according to data from Statista, DeFi’s total lock-up volume (TVL) reached 77.05 billion US dollars, and the overall active accounts reached 4.825 million, but its penetration into economic activities and financial services is still relatively low, TVL accounted for about 0.08% of global GDP in the previous year, and 0.3% of the off-chain financial services system (~$26 trillion according to Business Research Company).

Figure 9: The number of DeFi active accounts is growing steadily

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Statista, CICC Research

Chart 10: The total market value of DeFi locked up positions has grown rapidly in recent years but has fallen rapidly recently

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Statista, CICC Research

In terms of operation mechanism, DeFi is not completely independent of the “castle in the air” in the real world. It is linked to the off-chain financial system through stable coins and oracles, so that on-chain assets can effectively communicate with off-chain and respond to various variables in the real world.

Stablecoin: A capital channel and value scale connecting the real economy and the encrypted economy. As a medium of exchange between fiat and cryptocurrencies, stablecoins avoid the restrictions on direct exchange between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies, facilitate the flow of funds on and off the chain, and rely on relatively stable currency values ​​to become asset “safe havens” in the crypto-economy . According to the different anchored objects and operating mechanisms, stablecoins are mainly divided into the following three types:

Stablecoins with off-chain assets as collateral: This type of stablecoins are usually collateralized by off-chain assets such as fiat currency and precious metals. One of the representatives is USDT issued by Tether. USDT is currently the largest stablecoin in the market, accounting for 43.64% of the market value of all stablecoins by the end of June 2022. For every 1 unit of USDT issued, the company will correspondingly deposit 1 USD in its bank account, and users can use USDT to exchange 1:1 with USD at any time. Issuers typically engage independent auditors to regularly verify the backing assets in escrow accounts. Other large-capitalized off-chain stablecoins include USDC, BUSD, etc.

Stablecoins with on-chain assets as collateral: This type of stablecoin uses other cryptocurrencies such as ETH as collateral, and the collateral is held by smart contracts. Users can deposit cryptocurrency collateral and exchange for stablecoins or deposit stablecoins Redeem the collateral. Because the value of crypto assets tends to fluctuate more than fiat currencies, users often need to over-deposit collateral at a ratio higher than 1:1. Such stablecoins include DAI, etc.

Algorithmic stablecoin without collateral: This type of stablecoin adjusts the total amount of market currency according to the algorithm, increases the market supply when the stablecoin price is higher than the anchor price, and withdraws the supply when the stablecoin price is lower than the anchor price, or based on arbitrage The transaction balances the stablecoin price, but the implied risk is relatively large.

Oracle: An information channel connecting the real economy and the encrypted economy. The blockchain itself is a closed-loop system, and smart contracts cannot actively obtain external data. The oracle machine (Oracle) can write external information into the blockchain, so that the smart contract can respond to the information in the real world, so as to complete the data exchange between the blockchain and the real world.

Figure 11: Example of Oracle Principle

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Chainlink Labs Chainlink 2.0: Next Steps in the Evolution of Decentralized Oracle Networks (April 15, 2021), CICC Research

Figure 12: Stablecoins and Oracles connect DeFi with off-chain information and assets

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Deflamama, CICC Research

Compared with the current centralized financial system, DeFi theoretically has advantages in terms of cost, efficiency, transparency, security, openness and inclusiveness, and privacy protection. However, the current DeFi ecosystem is still in the early stages of development, the financial system is not yet perfect and there are great risks.

First, there are fewer restrictions on leveraged transactions in the DeFi ecosystem. Excessive leverage may trigger chain liquidation when cryptocurrency prices fluctuate violently, and may trigger a systemic crisis in DeFi. For example, in the sharp fall of ETH in May 2021 and the Luna thunderstorm event in 2022, the total locked market value of DeFi has shrunk by -37.5% and -46%, respectively.

Second, vicious loopholes and hacker attacks have repeatedly challenged the security and trust of the DeFi ecosystem. For example, in March 2022, Ronin, the underlying cross-chain bridge of the popular game Axie Infinity, was attacked, with a loss of $625 million. According to the Elliptic report, the DeFi ecosystem lost $1.55 billion due to theft in 2021.

Non-Fungible Token (NFT): The underlying infrastructure for asset confirmation and value empowerment

NFT refers to a digital certificate that uses smart contracts to record the corresponding asset rights information on the blockchain. NFT has the characteristics of non-tampering and traceable records, but unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum and other homogenized tokens, each NFT is unique and unique, and the two are not interchangeable and inseparable. Based on this, NFT can carry functions such as asset confirmation, scarcity construction, identity identification, and transaction circulation.

NFTs have developed rapidly in recent years. According to BlockBeats data, as of the end of June 2022, the total market value of NFTs is ~$23 billion. Among them, according to different application scenarios and functions, NFT mainly includes collectibles, games, art, functions, virtual worlds, etc. According to Nonfungible statistics, 1Q22 NFT transactions are mainly concentrated in the field of collectibles, with applications accounting for more than 76%, followed by art and games, both accounting for 8%.

At present, the NFT market is mixed with good and bad, and the head effect is significant. Among them, NFT projects issued by well-known artists often bring high popularity and are recognized by the market. For example, in early 2021, the auction price of “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” reached 69.35 million US dollars. The poor quality NFT projects on the market often have a short life cycle and are difficult to operate continuously, and their prices usually continue to drop after the first sale.

In terms of trading platform mode, NFT trading platforms can be divided into gallery type and open type. Among them, gallery-style platform works need to be screened by the platform, and the threshold is high, mainly connecting high-value artworks, represented by SuperRare; while on the open platform, any creator can publish content, with more types of works but relatively higher quality Differentiation, its representative is OpenSea.

Chart 13: NFT daily trading volume fluctuates greatly

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: NFTGO, CICC Research

Chart 14: Market Share of NFT Exchanges

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Dune Analytics, CICC Research

Figure 15: The NFT category is dominated by collectibles, followed by games and art

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Non-Fungible.com Non-Fungible 2022Q1 Report (April 15, 2022), CICC Research

Based on the characteristics of NFT, it can provide participants with value in four dimensions:

Asset confirmation: Based on the immutability of blockchain and the non-homogenization of NFT, NFT can record asset ownership and historical transaction flow information. For creators, they can trace the source of copyright and prevent infringement in the process of NFT circulation, and at the same time, they can continue to obtain profits in subsequent transactions, which helps to stimulate their enthusiasm for creation.

Scarcity Construction: In the digital world, anyone can copy and share digital content at will, and there is no difference between the original and the copy, and NFT distinguishes a certain number by recording the ownership of the original digital content on the chain The true owner and copy holder of the content, thus artificially constructing digital scarcity.

Identification: Due to the uniqueness and limitation of NFTs, holding a certain type of NFT can itself become an identification of identity. For example, the NFT avatar of the Boring Ape Yachting Club (BAYC) is not just a piece of art, it can also be used as a “yacht club” membership card to get exclusive access to certain Ethereum dApps (decentralized applications) and offline BAYC activities Access and participation rights. In the future, NFTs can mark individuals’ unique information, such as resumes, health status, etc.

Transaction circulation: Compared with traditional auction and private negotiation channels, the secondary market of NFT is more transparent, and participants can trade and transfer NFT more conveniently, and customize income rules, thus improving the liquidity of NFT-anchored assets. However, excessive secondary trading has also contributed to the NFT price bubble to a certain extent. In the future, we believe that more platform rule protection or regulatory intervention is needed for NFT secondary market transactions.

DAO: Decentralized Organizational Structure

DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) is a decentralized form of organization that coordinates autonomy through a set of shared rules enforced on the blockchain. Compared to the traditional corporate pyramid-shaped bureaucratic structure, DAOs use a more egalitarian structure that allows everyone in the organization to vote on issues relevant to their interests, thereby influencing decision-making.

The governance of DAO is divided into two parts: on-chain governance and off-chain governance. Among them, on-chain governance is to code organizational rules and make voting decisions based on the number of governance tokens held by participants; off-chain governance is achieved outside the blockchain through discussions and voting on social platforms within the organization. There is no binding common intent.

In the early stage of development, DAO’s on-chain token holdings and corresponding voting rights are concentrated on the project side, so it usually reaches more potential users through off-chain governance. As the project matures and the distribution of token holdings tends to be decentralized, DAO will gradually turn to on-chain governance as the main body, truly realizing decentralization and autonomy under code constraints.

Figure 16: DAO solves the principal-agent problem

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: DappRadar & Monday Capital, CICC Research

Figure 17: DAO and traditional corporate structure comparison

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: crystalblockchain.com, CICC Research

Based on its decentralized architecture, DAO has the following advantages

More transparency: DAO’s organizational rules, participants’ rights and obligations, and reward and punishment mechanisms are all open and transparent and cannot be tampered with without obtaining a majority of votes. In addition, every transaction and every decision in the DAO project is recorded on the blockchain, and the historical records can be traced back.

More consensus: Since the DAO operates under the organizational rules determined by the common voting of the participants, it can minimize the friction within the organization and make it easier to build consensus and trust.

More open: DAOs are usually built on the public chain, and you can participate in governance by holding governance tokens above the threshold. There is no access threshold based on various identities. Therefore, compared with the traditional corporate system, DAOs are easier to achieve global expansion.

Endogenous problems restrict the development of Metaverse finance, and external supervision impacts the principle of decentralization

We believe that Metaverse Finance faces risks and challenges from four levels of technology application, operational governance, economic system and regulatory policies, among which: 1) Defects in the application of technology will lead to structural problems within Metaverse Finance; 2) Operation Excessive centralization and inefficiency of power at the governance level may make Metaverse Finance uncompetitive and attractive; 3) Excessive speculative transactions and high leverage at the market structure level may cause systemic risks and impact the trust and consensus of Metaverse Finance; 4) The regulatory policies of different countries are quite different, which may lead to the fragmentation of the Metaverse financial system.

Technical application level: constraints brought by the underlying mechanism

First, the underlying consensus algorithm has certain problems in terms of transaction costs. Currently, the major cryptocurrencies all use the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which consumes a lot of electricity and has high transaction costs. Among them, a single Bitcoin transaction consumes ~2,000 kWh of electricity, and at a relatively constant block production speed (~15 seconds/block), on-chain transactions will be congested when the market fluctuates violently. In order to prioritize transactions for verification, transactions Originators also need to pay higher costs.

Second, the decentralized underlying consensus algorithm also limits transaction throughput and scalability. In the short term, developers transfer the transaction calculation process on the main chain to the side chain through Layer 2, thereby reducing the load and limit of the main chain. The theoretical throughput may be increased to 2,000-4,000 transactions per second, but the Layer 2 upgrade also brings More security risks. In the long run, the consensus mechanism has changed from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) and the introduction of sharding technology may be expected to increase the throughput limit and reduce transaction energy consumption. However, PoS may increase the inequality of incentive distribution and not Leads to excessive centralization of token distribution.

Figure 18: Ethereum TPS and Median Transaction Fees Continue to Rise

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Messari, CICC Research; Note: June 2022 abnormally high $200.27 was triggered by GasPrice ransomware attack

Finally, Metaverse Finance has greater security risks. Among them, in 2021, the loss of the crypto economy due to hacking attacks will exceed 1 billion US dollars. In order to deal with this risk, investors can hire professional auditing companies and due diligence companies to reduce potential loopholes, but this approach not only increases investment costs, but also goes against Metaverse Finance’s original intention of reducing credit costs.

Figure 19: Main risk categories

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CNBC, coindesk, CICC Research

Market structure level: highly leveraged speculative trading brings higher market risk

It is difficult for an economic system based on decentralized blockchain technology to meet the requirements of security and scale at the same time, making it difficult for Metaverse Finance to widely serve the real economy, resulting in its main activities being concentrated in the speculative field and bringing higher market risks. .

Currently, the leverage ratio in the Metaverse financial system is much higher than that in the off-chain financial system, exacerbating its pro-cyclical character. When the price of cryptocurrency assets falls, investors will experience a process of passive deleveraging, and the sell-off of assets will further drive the price of cryptocurrency to drop sharply, triggering a vicious circle.

In addition, we believe that the current Metaverse financial system lacks the role of the lender of last resort, making it more vulnerable than the centralized financial system in the face of a liquidity crisis, and the characteristics of circulating mortgages and DeFi assets that can be combined with each other make DeFi various underlying layers There is a high degree of correlation between asset prices, which intensifies the transmission of market risks. For example, after the collapse of LUNA-UST, the lending protocol Anchor, the synthetic asset mirror, and Ozone, which is responsible for compensation, have all been severely hit.

Exhibit 20: High leverage and procyclicality in DeFi

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: BIS, CICC Research

Operational governance level: power concentration and confusion and inefficiency caused by irregular governance

At the level of operational governance, due to the fact that the industry is in the early stage of development of the survival of the fittest, the current underlying distribution mechanism of some Metaverse Financial projects has led to excessive concentration of rights and chaotic and inefficient governance, resulting in problems of governance rights distribution and governance efficiency, making users more Tends to regard governance tokens as income tools rather than voting tools, and is more concerned with financial returns than participation in governance, and it is easier to sacrifice the long-term development of the project in pursuit of short-term returns.

In terms of the distribution of governance rights, although the goal of Metaverse Finance is to establish a decentralized financial system, in a large number of projects, the founding team and early investors have a relatively high share of governance tokens, which makes the project parties and investors more aware of the overall Decision-making has control, and can unilaterally modify the agreement of the project based on its own interests, which violates the principle of decentralization. For example, when Uniswap responded to the SEC’s review risk, its management team directly delisted trading support for 129 tokens, including Mirror products, without a vote.

In terms of governance efficiency, some voters have information asymmetry in the strategic development planning of the project, which hinders the development of the project. At the same time, some participants only hold tokens for speculative transactions, and the choices they make are not necessarily Conducive to the long-term development of the project. In addition, the process of voting to modify smart contracts is relatively long, and projects that are still in their early stages may not be able to flexibly change their development strategies.

Regulatory Policy Level: The Decentralized Model Under Shock

Decentralized Metaverse Finance breaks through the concept of territorial supervision to a certain extent, and crosses the jurisdiction of countries and regions. On the decentralized blockchain, agreements, accounts, and assets have lost the concept of territoriality, which makes it difficult to correspond to the existing regulatory system. Therefore, the current focus of supervision is on the exchange of fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies and related exchanges that provide exchange functions.

In June 2022, cryptocurrency exchange Binance came under further investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As early as September 2019, Binance was limited by regulatory restrictions and could only launch Binance.US with limited functions and KYC audits in the United States. In the context of continuous increase in supervision, some exchanges choose to actively communicate and cooperate with supervision. For example, Coinbase cooperates with the US Internal Revenue Service to provide user transaction records, and strives to obtain cryptocurrency licenses at the state level.

However, as cryptocurrency exchanges move towards compliance, they have actually become part of the centralized financial system, which has essentially impacted the concept of financial decentralization in the Metaverse. On the one hand, exchanges that refuse to cooperate with regulators have greater regulatory compliance pressure, and it is difficult to expand their business scale stably. It is also difficult for users to protect their rights and interests through legal and other compliance channels.

In addition, in recent years, major economies have differed greatly in their regulatory concepts for Metaverse financial activities such as cryptocurrency transactions, and they are in different positions in the spectrum of three dimensions: encouraging technological innovation, preventing systemic risks, and safeguarding investors’ rights and interests. Differences in regulatory policies in various regions may ultimately restrict the development of Metaverse Finance.

Figure 21: Sorting out the regulatory ideas of cryptocurrencies in various countries and regions

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Dentons, CICC Research

Integrating with the centralized financial system, Metaverse Finance may provide useful reference

Under the current state sovereignty and social form, it is difficult for a completely decentralized Metaverse financial system to exist widely. We believe that the future Metaverse Finance may be a more transparent, efficient and inclusive financial system based on the central bank and other regulatory agencies, with centralized and decentralized financial institutions as the main body of operation.

In the process of integration and development of Metaverse Finance and the traditional financial system, we expect that Metaverse Finance may gradually be incorporated into the regulatory framework, build a compliant entrance, and improve the stability of the financial system. At the same time, it is also expected to empower the traditional financial system and continue to Optimize the efficiency and experience of traditional financial services, and promote the reduction of intermediary agency problems, system operating costs and user access thresholds.

Figure 22: Metaverse Finance may coexist with the traditional financial system, and its final steady state will depend on various factors such as regulatory orientation

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: BIS, CICC Research

Take the central bank digital currency (CBDC) as an example. On the one hand, it is a legal currency endorsed by national sovereignty. Central banks and relevant regulatory agencies are responsible for setting the operating structure and monetary policy. On the other hand, distributed ledgers are added to the operating mechanism and functions. , smart contracts and other technologies, and absorbed the idea of ​​decentralization to a certain extent, focusing on protecting user privacy and improving service availability.

Figure 23: Three potential accounting models for CBDC

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: BIS, CICC Research

Currently, retail (individual-oriented) CBDC projects dominate the world. Among them, China’s digital yuan (e-CNY) ranks among the top in the world in terms of transaction scale and number of users. In addition, Japan, South Korea, Russia and other countries have also started CBDC pilot projects, while CBDCs in developed countries represented by Europe and the United States are still in the early stages of demonstration and research and development.

We believe that CBDC is expected to become an important infrastructure of the Metaverse financial payment system in the future, and is expected to be applied to various scenarios through smart contracts, payment-as-settlement and other features, improve the efficiency of payment systems, promote the integration of data and reality, and empower the real economy.

The concept of “Metaverse” provides imagination space for the digital transformation of financial institutions

From a practical point of view, the original intention of the “financial Metaverse” is the digital transformation of financial institutions

In the previous chapter, we described the “Metaverse Finance” system, and discussed the risks and challenges faced by “Metaverse Finance” at the four levels of technology application, operational governance, economic system, and regulatory policies. Due to various restrictions such as regulatory environment and technological maturity, different countries and regions around the world embrace different degrees of “Metaverse finance” represented by “cryptocurrency”, “DeFi”, “NFT”, “DAO”, etc. Therefore, in this chapter, from a practical point of view, with the continuous acceleration of the digital transformation of financial institutions in my country, we believe that the practical significance of the “Metaverse” for traditional financial institutions is more due to the continuous maturity of its underlying technology and the continuous extension of its scenarios. The imagination brought by it is expected to further promote the digital transformation of financial institutions and bring more possibilities to the path and final form of their digital transformation.

The continuous improvement of related concepts and underlying technologies of the “Metaverse” can provide more possibilities and imagination for the digital transformation of financial institutions in my country. On the one hand, with the gradual development of the “Metaverse”, the application of its underlying technologies such as modeling and rendering, interactive technology, Internet of Things, network computing power, blockchain, artificial intelligence and other technologies is expected to accelerate. We believe that financial institutions will Benefiting from the rapid development of related technologies, it can better achieve digital transformation goals such as business innovation, process transformation, and organizational transformation; The virtual world picture of the system, we believe that the immersive experience brought by the “Metaverse” and the realism of virtual elements will provide financial institutions with a richer imagination space for online collaboration, online business development, and customer experience upgrades.

Figure 24: The relationship between the digital transformation of financial institutions and the Metaverse

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CICC Research

Overseas “Metaverse Finance” and “Financial Metaverse” both develop, and domestic focus on digital transformation

Overseas View: Financial Institutions “Metaverse” Innovation Presents Three Levels

Overseas financial institutions are actively exploring the Metaverse, and the decision tree can be divided into three levels in the following figure according to the decision tree composed of the two judgment factors “whether the business channel is extended to the Metaverse platform/whether the business innovation is related to decentralized finance”. Due to the differences in regulatory environment, financial system, maturity of the “Metaverse” scenario, etc., we believe that the exploration of overseas financial institutions at level 3 is more meaningful for Chinese financial institutions to conduct initial “Metaverse” exploration.

Level 1: Explore and deploy decentralized financial services in the Metaverse. For example, the head of JPMorgan’s Onyx project stated in June 2022 that it plans to develop institutional-level DeFi business by tokenizing U.S. Treasury bonds or money market fund shares, making it possible to become collateral in DeFi pools, etc. JPMorgan Chase has participated in the pilot project of Project Guardian of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and has carried out related exploration work[1]), and the integrated digital wallet (which can store multiple tokens, NFTs, and central bank currencies) is being explored by the Kookmin Bank of Korea. The wallet has been tested, etc. [2]), etc., all belong to the financial activities provided by traditional financial institutions integrating decentralization ideas for the development of the Metaverse.

Tier 2: Use the Metaverse platform as a new channel for existing financial businesses. Under this development direction, financial institutions are based on the existing “Metaverse” related scenarios and use such scenarios to enhance the service experience of their own customers. For example, HSBC opened a virtual sports field in the Sandbox to create novel brands for new and old customers. Experience[3]; Fidelity Investments and Fidelity Metaverse ETF jointly launched the “Fidelity Stack” in Decentraland to educate basic investment knowledge[4]; JPMorgan Chase launched Onyx Lounge in Decentraland to showcase its blockchain business development process, etc. [5].

Tier 3: Adopting Metaverse-related technologies to facilitate digital transformation. Financial institutions use Metaverse-related technologies such as XR, digital twins, 3D modeling, and artificial intelligence to further promote digital transformation. The maturity of their technologies and the extension of scenarios are accompanied by the simultaneous development of “Metaverse” innovation. For example, ASB Bank of New Zealand released a virtual employee Josie; BNP Paribas applied VR technology to assist business development in retail banking, real estate and insurance business in 2017, and further iterated the digital twin real estate project WIRED in 2022 to provide customers with European The historical recurrence and future prediction of the community within the scope can assist customers in decision-making; Fidelity Investments is constantly exploring how VR will promote service innovation; Citibank released the holographic virtual financial transaction workbench launched with the help of Microsoft Holographic Lens in 2016. Proof of concept; MasterCard launches AR App in 2020 to help users understand their rights; Bank of America uses VR technology for employee training; Kookmin Bank of Korea opens up employee office areas on Metaverse platform Gather; Korea Hanwha Life Insurance launches Metaverse virtual training platform “Lifeplus Town” etc.

Figure 25: Three levels of Metaverse exploration by financial institutions

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CICC Research

Figure 26: Overseas financial institutions use Metaverse-related technologies to promote digital transformation

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: ASB official website, BNP Paribas official website, Forbes, Fidelity Investments official website, 8ninths official website, Mastercard official website, Mastercard YouTube official account, Bank of America official website, Training Industry, Newsbeezer, Babbitt, Korea shinailbo, CICC Research

View domestic: “Metaverse Finance” development is limited; “Financial Metaverse” realizes preliminary exploration

my country’s regulatory authorities take a prudent attitude towards financial institutions’ exploration and development related to the Metaverse to guard against financial uncertainty. As the development of the Metaverse has brought about problems in information protection, asset protection, etc., such as private key leakage, property loss and asset price instability caused by hackers, DeFi’s high leverage feature further amplifies the market risk of injury.Therefore, activities involving “Metaverse finance” (represented by cryptocurrencies, DeFi, NFT, DAO, etc.) have limited development space in my country. The nature of tokens, the specification of NFT products, and the application of Metaverse-related technologies are clearly defined. The main purpose is to deal with risks, protect investors’ personal property and information security, and prevent financial uncertainty.

Figure 27: Domestic Metaverse-related regulatory policies

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: China Government Network, Central Bank, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Banking Association, Cyberspace Administration of China, China Internet Finance Association, CICC Research

Under the prudent attitude of supervision, digital transformation with the help of related concepts and technologies of the “Metaverse” is the main innovation direction of the preliminary exploration of “Metaverse” by financial institutions in my country. In addition to the “ABCDI” technology that has been deeply applied, financial institutions have achieved certain breakthroughs in interaction and modeling technologies represented by virtual humans, digital twins, and XR with the help of the “Metaverse” concept. In addition, we believe that the emergence of NFTs is also expected to help financial institutions go further in the application of blockchain-enabled supply chain finance.

Virtual human: The virtual human integrates artificial intelligence technologies such as NLP, intelligent voice, computer vision, and professional knowledge map to build interactive capabilities and professionalism, and uses interactive and modeling rendering technologies such as portrait modeling and motion capture to shape the shape [6], online Maintain a friendly service attitude and intelligent guidance level in the customer service of online and offline channels. At the same time, it can assist in business handling and help enterprises establish a trendy brand image. The virtual human is connected to the data center, and the collected front-end business data can help financial institutions analyze the high-frequency problems and business needs of each branch, and further improve their operational capabilities. Although Nanjing Bank, China Everbright Bank, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank launched virtual human digital employees as early as 2019, domestic cases/plans of virtual human applications will emerge in the second half of 2021.

Digital twin: Digital twin technology can help financial institutions improve their operational and innovative capabilities. In the field of intelligent operation, digital twin can provide data center visualization, IT architecture visualization management, digital smart park, digital operation, enterprise architecture asset management, financial industry technology information reporting system, financial integrated operation and maintenance, and financial security visualization services. 7]. From 2021 to 2022, plans to use digital twin technology to help rural revitalization, bank-enterprise connection, and bank ecological construction have emerged, and there are cases of helping credit product innovation. The driving force can be expected in the future.

XR: XR is an extended reality technology, including VR/AR/MR/holographic images [8], which can build a more experiential, immersive and interesting online channel for financial institutions. Among them, the application of AR technology is earlier, focusing on credit card promotion, enriching online APP experience, data aggregation and display, and marketing on major festivals; the application of VR technology can be divided into services that do not require VR headsets/require VR headsets, and do not require VR. The VR display on mobile devices such as mobile phones provides 3D spaces such as conference venues and meeting rooms, and integrates services and marketing methods from various online channels. The services using headsets are mainly immersed in the smart outlets of banks. in the experience.

Figure 28: Domestic Financial Institutions Use Metaverse-Related Technologies to Promote Digital Transformation: Virtual Image

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: CBNData, “The “Confidence” of Generation Z – 2022 New Youth Internet Insurance Service Experience Trend Insights, Sina Finance, RPA Planet WeChat Official Account, CICC Research

Figure 29: Domestic Financial Institutions Use Metaverse-Related Technologies to Promote Digital Transformation: Virtual Humans

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Bank of Nanjing official website, Silicon-based Intelligence official WeChat public account, Shenshui Finance and Economics, China Electronic Banking Network, Mofa Technology official WeChat public account, China Securities Journal, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank official website, Yicai, 36氪, ICBC Beijing official WeChat Official Account, Voice of Deputy Center Official WeChat Official Account, Great Wall Life Official Website, Great Wall Man Official Account at BilibIli, JD Cloud WeChat Official Account, TechWeb, Kanchan Video, China Economic Net, Broker China, Baixin Bank Official WeChat Official Account, State Key Laboratory of Media Convergence and Communication, Communication University of China, “China Virtual Digital Human Influence Index Report” (January 27, 2022), SenseTime official WeChat account, Postal Savings Bank of China official website, CICC Research Department

Figure 30: Domestic Financial Institutions Use Metaverse-Related Technologies to Promote Digital Transformation: Digital Twins

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: Younuo Technology official website, China Life 2021 Annual Report, Beibei.com, Hengfeng Bank official website, Qilu Evening News, Industrial Bank 2021 Annual Report, Industrial Bank official website, CICC Research

Figure 31: Domestic Financial Institutions Use Metaverse-Related Technologies to Promote Digital Transformation: XR

Finance×Metaverse: A Financial System Under the Blending of Virtual and Real

Source: 3DMGAME, China Merchants Bank official website, Bilibili, Zheshang Bank WeChat official account, Southern Metropolis Daily, VR industry base, financial sector, Xuzhou CCB VR digital outlets, CICC Research Department

What value can the concepts and technologies related to “Metaverse” bring to the digital transformation of financial institutions?

2021 is the final year of the “Fintech (Fintech) Development Plan (2019-2021)” issued by the central bank. Judging from the “digital transformation” answers of traditional financial institutions, its technology development path mainly focuses on 5G + “ABCD” At the same time, some leading institutions have gradually begun to explore innovative applications in the field of subdivision technology. Looking forward, we believe that the digital transformation of traditional financial institutions mainly presents three major trends: 1) improving quality, increasing efficiency, and reducing losses; 2) building a support base for digital transformation; 3) improving technology for good.

We believe that in the context of the accelerated digital transformation of traditional financial institutions in my country, the development of concepts and technologies related to the “Metaverse” is expected to bring new digital transformation directions for traditional financial institutions in terms of human resources, digital marketing, and operations, and at the same time for the traditional financial institutions. Its users bring a richer digital experience.

At the human resources level, it is expected to improve the work experience and training efficiency of employees: 1) Improve the atmosphere of online work: Kookmin Bank of Korea has launched the KB Financial City on the Metaverse platform Gather to provide a virtual office space displayed on a two-dimensional plane. It enables employees to feel the atmosphere of offline office and the experience of face-to-face communication even though they are in various places; 2) Improve employee work efficiency: Virtual digital employees use AI, one of the underlying technologies of the Metaverse, to liberate employee productivity, such as the water drop company’s Digital employees can use RPA and AI technology to help employees with daily tasks. 3) Improve training fun and knowledge retention: Bank of America will build VR training points in 2021. Employees can use VR headsets to simulate the way they communicate with customers in different situations. The embedded real-time analysis technology can be used for supervisors to analyze Training results to facilitate follow-up personalized guidance. According to Bank of America, 90% of its piloted 400 employees thought VR training was an interesting experience, and 97% believed that after VR training, they could be more confident at work, and believed that it could effectively improve knowledge retention [9].

At the marketing level, it will help financial institutions to improve their service capabilities and user experience.

Improve service capabilities: On the one hand, financial institutions can use Metaverse-related technologies to help them obtain service methods and service quality in terms of data presentation and display, online user interaction, and 7*24-hour services provided by virtual human employees. Further improvement; on the other hand, traditional institutions can also use “Metaverse” related interaction, modeling and rendering technologies to achieve richer and more realistic images and web pages during service, as well as service additions such as VR/AR, etc. equipment to effectively improve service quality.

Improve user experience: 1) Attract young users with trendy UI interface design: At present, young users show a preference to use online channels to obtain financial services, and the financial Metaverse is expected to be constructed using interactive, modeling, and rendering technologies such as virtual human/XR The trendy UI interface attracts the interest of young users. According to iResearch’s survey results, the younger the bank users in China, the less frequently they go to offline outlets[10], and South Korea’s NH Investment & Securities also stated when expounding its NH Universe Metaverse plan, the MZ generation (Millennials). Generation + Z) account for 52% of brokerage companies’ mobile trading services, so it is expected to use diversified digital platforms to make their investment activities simple and interesting[11]; 2) Reduce the overall cost of users: financial institutions use virtual people to conduct online transactions Under the intelligent guidance, VR/AR technology rich abstract data display form, the time cost for users to wait, understand the delivery results, etc. is expected to be further reduced; 3) Improve the interactive experience and service availability: At present, financial institutions reflect the virtual reality. The attention of people “personal design” is committed to making digital employees into friendly service providers, or can create a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere for users when interacting online and offline. At the same time, Metaverse technology can also enable users to obtain an “offline-like” experience on online channels, and the convenience has been improved. For example, the insurance immersive online VR platform is committed to restoring the offline insurance process, but users can You can get related services on your mobile device when you go out.

At the operational level, it helps to improve monitoring capabilities, analysis capabilities, and information protection capabilities. Among the technologies related to the “Metaverse”, such as digital twin technology, financial institutions can use charts and 3D models to monitor resource distribution and usage in real time, and break through traditional ledger and asset efficiency management systems, which are inefficient and lack real-time visual display capabilities. Intuitively understand the company’s increasingly complex IT architecture and enterprise architecture, improve the ability to understand and analyze operational processes, improve standardized management, and cross-departmental teamwork; The digital twin of infrastructure such as data centers can monitor the operation of buildings such as data centers in real time, quickly locate abnormalities, and improve the ability to protect information security, employee personal safety, and property safety.

[1]https://www.coindesk.com/business/2022/06/11/jpmorgan-wants-to-bring-trillions-of-dollars-of-tokenized-assets-to-defi/

[2]https://www.ccvalue.cn/article/1389557.html

[3]https://www.ledgerinsights.com/hsbc-buys-nft-land-in-sandbox-Metaverse-game/

[4]https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220421005259/en/FIDELITY-OPENS-%E2%80%9CTHE-FIDELITY-STACK%E2%80%9D-IN-DECENTRALAND-BECOMES-FIRST-BROKERAGE-FIRM-WITH-IMMERSIVE-EDUCATIONAL-METAVERSE-EXPERIENCE

[5]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54zs_mbUa1I

[6] “2022 Virtual Human Industry Research Report”: Speedway Metaverse Research Institute, June 6, 2022

[7]https://www.uino.com/solution/finance/

[8]Lee, L-H., Braud, T., Zhou, P., Wang, L., Xu, D., Lin, Z., Kumar, A., Bermejo, C., & Hui, P. (2021). All One Needs to Know about Metaverse: A Complete Survey on Technological Singularity, Virtual Ecosystem, and Research Agenda. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.11200.05124/8

[9]https://trainingindustry.com/articles/learning-technologies/how-bank-of-america-deployed-and-scaled-vr-to-advance-workplace-learning-a-case-study/

[10]https://report.iresearch.cn/report_pdf.aspx?id=3881

[11]https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/biz/2021/08/126_314385.html

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