Insurance Daily | June 2022

So much for Mark Zuckerberg and the billionaires of the Silicon Valley raised on bread and Internet: the first person to talk about the metaverse was the American science fiction author Neal Stephenson.

In his novel Snow Crash, written in 1992, Stephenson depicts the metaverse as a parallel reality populated by avatars. Unlike real people, avatars can move, share experiences, and interact in a three-dimensional space.

This was a true sci-fi premonition. Thirty years later, the metaverse has become a topical subject, the latest and certainly most daring frontier of social connection.

The general interest in the metaverse has increased drastically during the Covid pandemic. In fact, social distancing and lockdowns generated a strong need for proximity and interaction among individuals, albeit physically distant.

This stimulated the public imagination: the possibility of moving social relations to other areas of daily life, creating virtual worlds where people can operate just like in the physical world.

Since Stephenson’s premonition, the world of videogames – with two billion users worldwide and endless revenues – has led and accelerated the development of the metaverse.

The development of digital technologies, in particular the progress in the blockchain technology, led gaming programmers to create increasingly complex and captivating gaming platforms. These platforms host millions of users, who can create unique avatars of themselves and play, socialize, explore, make purchases and payments. Would it be possible, then, to imagine a similar kind of interaction between clients, agents and insurance companies?

Today, writers and programmers are not the only ones dominating the metaverse. According to authoritative sources, the global market of the metaverse could exceed one trillion dollars over the next three years. Moreover, the important investments of big techs will work as a multiplier.

For example, Microsoft could integrate its metaverse, Vortex, in the Teams platform, with a feature called Mash. This would allow users to join meetings through their avatars. Not bad, considering that today Teams users exceed two hundred million a day.

While the rules and possibilities are still in the making, it is clear that the insurance world, just like the financial and banking worlds, will not be exempt from considering the metaverse as one of the possible channels in the definition of their distribution strategy.

The metaverse could attract new generations of clients (twenty- to forty-year-old people). Moreover, it would represent an opportunity of growth for the insurance world, something that the real world cannot offer due to its limited resources.

Some believe that Italians – through their avatars – could meet the avatars of their insurance agents in the metaverse, thus fostering the drastic evolution and growth of the insurance market.

Let’s just hope this is not pure science fiction and that the evolution of the market won’t take over thirty years. Meanwhile, we can keep daydreaming.

Nicola Ronchetti