As the metaverse continues to mature in preparation for mainstream adoption, Worldline has become one of the leading payment platforms to embrace the digital by launching the Wordline Shopping Hub last year.

To discuss Worldline’s metaverse in further detail, and its future viability as a new home for commerce, Sascha Muenger, Head of Competence of Crypto Related Products & Metaverse, spoke to Payment Expert.  

Payment Expert: Firstly Sascha, could you for the uninitiated best describe what the Worldline Metaverse Shopping Hub is and its primary functions?

Sascha Muenger: The Worldline Metaverse Shopping Hub is a white-label solution for commerce within the new 3D worlds. Merchants can rent a store within the Worldline Metaverse Shopping Mall and get easy entry into this new commerce channel at a low cost. 

The white-label solution offers various packages, including payments, advertising, ‘phygital’ experiences and augmented reality. The hub is currently available via Decentraland and Spatial, with plans for other platforms to be added in the near future which will deliver the best customer experience and audience reach.

Payment Expert: What does the Metaverse offer differently from a retail and e-commerce aspect than other Web2 formats, such as websites for instance?

Muenger: Within the Metaverse, it is possible to experience commerce in 3D. Using a virtual reality headset, you can immerse yourself in the world and experience a brand and product in 3D, learn more about a product and explore it in high resolution and augmented reality before purchase. 

The commerce journey can also be extended with a Web3 ‘phygital’ experience, where you can not only use the product in real life, via an NFT, but also in the metaverse. For example, I buy a limited edition hoodie from a brand and then have the opportunity to wear this hoodie using my Metaverse avatar via an NFT as well. In addition, it is also interesting to link the entire brand experience with a Web3 loyalty programme. 

When I buy an NFT, I become a member of an exclusive club and can benefit from further rewards in the future. As an example, RTFKT has taken on a pioneering role together with Nike and implemented these opportunities in a very interesting way.

Payment Expert: What made Decentraland the suitable home for the launch of the Worldline Metaverse Shopping Hub as well as the recently added Spatial platform?

Muenger: Decentraland was a good starting point for the Worldline Shopping Mall as this metaverse platform is an open world with low entry barriers for end consumers. With Decentraland, you can immerse yourself in the Metaverse using a web browser with a Crypto Wallet or a guest account. 

Decentraland also offers a whole host of possibilities for customised Web3 implementations, so our merchants and customers can maximise the full potential of the Metaverse. 

With the addition of Spatial, Worldline is able to extend the reach of our solution and bring it to other devices, such as smartphones or virtual reality headsets such as Meta Quest 3 or Meta Quest Pro. As there is still no interoperable Metaverse standard in place, it is important for us to connect the most relevant Metaverse platforms within our solution and increase the reach of Metaverse Commerce and our white-label solution.

Payment Expert: What has been the response from retailers to the Worldline metaverse since launching? Have they demonstrated growth in the area and are there methods deployed to educate those who need it? 

Muenger: We are currently live with a set of our most innovative clients across various sectors and industries. We have a hotel live with the Chedi in Andermatt, a retailer with Solis, and a bank with Consorsbank from Germany, as well as an art collective with SNGLR. 

The feedback from our customers has been very positive and we have been able to reach a large number of end consumers and create a basis for further growth for Metaverse Commerce. 

For Worldline, 2024 is all about scaling – we will add more merchants and partners to the Worldline Metaverse Shopping Hub, create new gamified experiences and organise events within the Metaverse. It is worth noting that we will be bringing the solution to more merchants in the DACH region through our joint venture with Payone, particularly in Germany and Austria.

Payment Expert: With the Metaverse still in its infancy, how long will it be before we see mainstream adoption for not just retailers but for consumers as well? 

Muenger: It is important to remember that we are still very early in the development of the Metaverse and Web3, innovations take time to enter the mainstream. I expect that it will take another three to five years before we see mass adoption of the Metaverse. 

However, we are seeing very positive developments within the market. Many brands are already offering Web3 experiences, which represent a new type of customer loyalty and brand engagement. We are also seeing other interesting developments on the technological side, such as the launch of Apple Vision Pro. 

However, there are still some hurdles to overcome, such as regulatory and interoperability challenges. Commerce and payments will play a central role in this development and we would like to support this journey as one of the major payment players in Europe.

Payment Expert: Lastly Sascha, thank you for your time, what are your thoughts on the potential of the Metaverse and how it could reshape how society interacts with one another?

Muenger: We believe that the development of Web3 and the associated Metaverses can have a positive impact on interactions and reshape the way we use the internet. 

In this way, a wide variety of use cases such as education, events and commerce. In addition, working practices can also be improved via a virtual world or space, no matter where you are in the world. This will bring people closer together despite physical separation. 

Ultimately, it will come down to a co-existence of Metaverse experiences and the real world. The technology and use cases must create real added value for users. It will be very exciting to follow this development over the next few years and see which use cases will prevail in both Web3 and the Metaverse.