Solv raises US$40 MN to deepen operations in India and expand globally

27 June 2022, Singapore - Solv, a trusted B2B digital marketplace for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), raised US$40 million in Series A funding led by marquee investor, SBI Holdings, with participation from SC Ventures, Standard Chartered Bank's innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm. SC Ventures has played a leading role in building and incubating the Solv franchise. 

Solv enables MSMEs, of which 95%+ are in the unorganized segment and mostly without a digital identity, to leverage the power of a full-stack e-commerce platform, and to trade in categories such as grocery, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), readymade apparels, electronic and accessories, home furnishings and footwear and accessories. Since its commercial launch in India 18+ months ago, Solv has gained a strong reputation among MSMEs users as a ‘trusted platform for trade’, clocking US$260 million+ Gross Merchandise Value run rate in the first half of 2022, and 60% average repeated purchases. 

This investment round will propel the company’s global expansion plans, building on the success of Solv’s strong performance in India. Solv has set its sight on further global expansion to 300+ cities in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The proceeds from the funding will launch additional high-margin product categories, while Solv will continue to invest in its technology – expanding the capabilities of its credit platform, supply chain finance platform, proprietary alternate credit score (Solv Score) and the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) proposition.

The SBI Group is a major Japanese financial conglomerate providing financial services in a broad range of fields including securities, banking and insurance. In addition to the financial service business, the Group also has an asset management business, focused primarily on investment in venture companies.

Commenting on the investment, Yoshitaka Kitao, CEO, SBI Holdings, said, “We are excited to lead Solv’s Series-A fund-raise, one of our largest investments in the region. We are confident that Solv will become a global technology powerhouse and play a defining role in turbo-charging the growth of underserved MSMEs. Their purpose deeply aligns with our philosophy of becoming the leader in creating and cultivating the core industries of the 21st century. Our investment in Solv is a reinforcement of our commitment to developing economies, especially India.”

Supporting Solv’s funding, Alex Manson, Head, SC Ventures, said, “The team’s obsession for the customer and their discipline of execution is impressive. Solv’s rapid growth since launch demonstrates the huge market potential in the B2B space. The partnership with SBI Holdings will help us accelerate growth of Solv in India and expand its footprint globally.”

Jiten Arora, Head, Solv Investment Management reinforced the importance of the SBI partnership, “We set up Solv to make access to commerce and financing a reality for small businesses and in less than two years, Solv has built a strong reputation as a trusted growth partner to MSMEs. In collaboration with SBI Holdings, we look forward to improving our offering for MSMEs across multiple countries.”

Connect with us

At SC Ventures, we build, co-create and invest to scale breakthrough business models in banking. If you're keen to explore partnership opportunities, connect with us to learn more

For media enquiries, please contact Brenda Ching at brenda.ching@sc.com 

 

SBI Holdings, Inc 

SBI Holdings is a major Japanese financial conglomerate including Asset Management, Financial Services and Biotechnology-related businesses. The SBI Group was established in 1999 as a pioneer of Internet-based financial services in Japan and today has presence in 23 countries and regions and is listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange.  

 

Solv

Solv is a B2B e-commerce platform- a pureplay marketplace that offers India’s MSME sector an open and inclusive trade ecosystem across the entire value chain. The platform facilitates connections and negotiations with verified sellers and buyers, door-step pick-up and delivery of goods, timely and easy access to finance as well as simplified business support functions. These are critical elements that help expand market access, bring operational efficiencies, and shape success for 63 MN+ MSMEs across the country. 

For more information, please visit https://www.solvezy.com/

 

SC Ventures 

SC Ventures is a business unit that provides a platform and catalyst for Standard Chartered to promote innovation, invest in disruptive financial technology and explore alternative business models. 

For more information, please visit www.scventures.io and follow SC Ventures on LinkedIn.


Panel: Do you need a Chief Metaverse Officer?

A huge thank you to our speakers Kevin BriseboisVictoria WellsMathew Sweezey and Simon Figures for a really educational and fun conversation where we discussed the metaverse vs. web3, whether the time to dive in is now, and how companies can start thinking about their metaverse strategies.

Some key takeaways:

👾  What is the Metaverse vs. web3?

The Metaverse is the virtual, 3D experience of the internet & takes the form of gaming platforms, virtual entertainment (basically anywhere you can be an avatar and explore digital platforms) while web3 is the underlying fundamental technologies and robust infrastructure. - Victoria Wells, R/GA's Strategy Director, Web3 & Metaverse

🙋‍♀️ WHY should brands care?

On top of your store front, social and websites, the metaverse is another place where our customers live & where commerce is conducted. It's where the market is, so it's where we have to be - Mathew Sweezey, Co-founder of Salesforce's Web3 Studio

🚀 How can you get started?

Talk to your stakeholders, align internally on how you want to use the metaverse and web3 and map out how it creates value for your company and customers - Kevin Brisebois, Brinc's Director, Corporate Innovation & Partnerships

Additional resources

View our Metaverse White Paper

Have an enquiry?

Reach out at scventures@sc.com

Partner with us to experiment & co-create in the Metaverse:

Join our FinTech Bridge Open Call

Stay in touch with us:

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for all our latest updates.


SC Ventures and SBI sign MOU to accelerate portfolio expansion efforts and ecosystem building

SC Ventures and SBI Holdings sign MOU to accelerate portfolio expansion and build ecosystems

 

9 May 2022, Singapore - SC Ventures, Standard Chartered’s innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm, announced that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SBI Holdings, Inc to expand their portfolio, both at a business and geographic level, and to explore new ecosystems through this partnership.

SBI is a major Japanese financial conglomerate, with verticals in asset management, financial services and biotechnology-related businesses. Its venture capital fund has a diverse investment portfolio covering internet technology, fintech, artificial intelligence and big data, blockchain and crypto assets.

SC Ventures and SBI hold core beliefs in transforming financial services through building and investing in “ecosystems” of new companies, which will serve their customers in the ways they want to be served.  Both organisations also have a common goal of leveraging innovative technology to fulfil society’s expectations of financial services, as it relates to enabling growth, welfare improvement, sustainability and financial inclusion in the markets where they operate.

The MOU offers an opportunity for SBI and SC Ventures to mutually benefit from the collective breadth of investment expertise and complementary global footprints. SBI is headquartered in Japan with a strong presence in Southeast Asian markets, while SC Ventures has significant experience operating across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

The MOU is structured to cover three main areas – (1) Opportunities to drive collaboration as well as co-invest in portfolio companies, including the option to establish joint venture funds, (2) Cooperation for business development to set up or scale business models leveraging each other’s geographic footprint (3) Creating ecosystems around particular themes to drive scale and impact (some examples include SMEs and supply chains, digital assets, decentralised finance, Web 3.0).

 

For media enquiries, please email Brenda Ching at brenda.ching@sc.com

 

SBI Holdings, Inc

SBI Holdings is a major Japanese financial conglomerate including Asset Management, Financial Services and Biotechnology-related businesses. The SBI Group was established in 1999 as a pioneer of Internet-based financial services in Japan and today has presence in 23 countries and regions and is listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange.

 

SC Ventures

SC Ventures is a business unit that provides a platform & catalyst for Standard Chartered to promote innovation, invest in disruptive financial technology and explore alternative business models.

For more information, please visit www.scventures.io and follow SC Ventures on LinkedIn.

 

Standard Chartered

We are a leading international banking group, with a presence in 59 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 83. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, here for good.

Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.

For more stories and expert opinions please visit Insights at sc.com. Follow Standard Chartered on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

 

 

 


Zodia Custody wins Digital Assets Initiative of the Year!

Zodia Custody, our institutional-grade digital asset custodian, was named Digital Assets Initiative of the Year at the Global Custodian’s Leaders in Custody awards.

This well-deserved win is a testament to the hard work of the entire Zodia Custody team and is recognition of the truly innovative work they do towards changing the digital asset landscape.

The venture, which also received investment from Northern Trust, launched commercially last year and has gone from strength to strength after being granted their FCA registration in July 2021. They recently announced a major deal to provide digital asset custody services to Invesco for their Bitcoin exchange traded product. With more big projects in the pipeline it’s a very exciting time for Zodia Custody. The full list of winners at the Global Custodian’s Leaders in Custody Awards can be found here.

Learn about Zodia Custody

If you have any questions about the awards win or Zodia Custody in general, you can reach out to contact@zodia.io .

About SC Ventures

At SC Ventures, we build, co-create and invest to scale breakthrough business models that solve real problems at the core of banking. Connect with us at scventures@sc.com

 


Bambu's WealthTech Unwrapped: Featuring Alex Manson

Source

In Bambu's podcast series, WealthTech Unwrapped, host Ned Phillips speaks to SC Ventures' Alex Manson to discuss topics from endurance sports to the role of financial institutions in ensuring the wealth management field is sustainable and relevant.

Listen to the full podcast

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3sciEZv

Apple: https://apple.co/3ydetAo

Key takeaways

  1. Purpose is a far more powerful driver of motivation than discipline that’s rooted in the fear of failure.
  2. Financial institutions are unlikely to evolve until external forces pressure them to.
  3. Wealth management is ultimately an instrument to help people achieve their life goals with ease and stability. Where this tool is implemented to fulfil that purpose is crucial.

Having shared experiences in the area of FinTech ventures as well as a love for endurance sports, Ned and Alex recognize the similarities between participating in endurance events and running a start-up. As with competing against global athletes, many founders experience imposter syndrome and often question their own capabilities in enacting a positive impact in the industry. However, Alex suggests that confronting and coping with the awareness of their own abilities is essential to avoid being paraylzed by self-doubt. Instead of pursuing motivation through discipline, which is more often than not born out of the fear of failing, let purpose drive the journey. 

Speaking of seeking purpose in the industry, Alex believes that banks should focus on modernizing their models to better accommodate customers’ expectations. Usually, organizations are unlikely to evolve unless they’re subjected to external influences and pressures. These firms have no urgency to change until they’re faced with unfavorable conditions, whether it’s from new entrants, regulatory intervention or customer expectations.

Alex observes that consumers procrastinate on their financial plans because there’s a lack of proponents that they can completely trust in the industry to help them without hard selling products. As such, to reconcile investors with wealth management positively and confidently, institutions need to be as client-centric as possible to stay relevant with their services.

Learn more about what we do: https://scventures.io/our-business/

 


Thank you for 4 wins at the Digital CX Awards 2022

Thank you The Digital Banker for the wins!

At SC Ventures, we believe that digital disruption goes beyond the digitization of channels. It’s about revamping business models & working in and outside of existing institutions to create new kinds of partnerships and explore new ways of working to serve clients. We are both thrilled and humbled to be recognized in this regard for our solutions at this year's Digital CX Awards.

A big thank you to all our partners across the bank and in the broader ecosystem for your support through our journey to #RewiretheDNAinbanking, and we look forward to achieving more together! Congrats as well to the other winning teams. See the full list of winners.

Find out more about our ventures & intrapreneur initiatives:

Mox, our virtual bank in Hong Kong

CardsPal, our credit card deal marketplace solution that aims to connect users, merchants and bank through hyper-personalised experiences and curated offerings

Standard Chartered nexus, our Banking as a Service, solution that aims to redefine the banking experience for customers globally by digitally marrying ecosystems to banks 

SC Junior, our intrapreneur initiative that aims to empower kids with money skills 

Connect with us

At SC Ventures, we build, co-create and invest to scale breakthrough business models in banking. Connect with us to learn more


White Paper: The Metaverse - An Overview

Written by: Simon Figures, SC Ventures San Francisco

Email | LinkedIn

In Brief

  • The metaverse is best described as a future version of the Internet where people interact socially and professionally in persistent, shared, and immersive virtual worlds.
  • Numerous analysts are predicting a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity with far reaching implications for a broad range of industry segments.
  • Blockchains form the backbone of the metaverse and may enable digital assets - often Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) - to be used across different virtual worlds.

In Numbers

Introduction

"The next generation of consumer companies will have business models that resemble Fortnite more than they resemble Facebook."

Rex Woodbury, Index Ventures (07/20)

As a greater share of our lives are spent connected to others through technology it is increasingly difficult to make a meaningful distinction between our ‘real life’ and our ‘digital life’. 76% of consumers already report that their daily lives and activities depend on technology and a recent McKinsey study estimated that Covid had accelerated by as much as 7 years the development of digital products and services across work, education, commerce and social interaction.

Key elements of this digital wave are rapidly converging, and the contours of a unified, immersive digital future are starting to emerge. The concept of the “Metaverse”, a digital realm that enables people to interact and work in virtual spaces, is not new but has recently seen a surge of attention from consumers, corporates, and investors. In a message to its clients in January 2022, Goldman Sachs predicted the Metaverse would represent an $8 trillion opportunity[1]  while a month later, JP Morgan estimated the opportunity as $1 trillion in annual revenues, with virtual worlds “infiltrating every sector in some way in the coming years.”

Adding credence to these predictions have been the flurry of strategic moves by large tech companies; Facebook’s groupwide rebranding to “Meta”, Microsoft’s $75 billion acquisition of videogaming company Activision Blizzard and increasing evidence of an Apple AR/VR headset to name just a few. Altogether, multiple market signals point to a paradigm shift towards a more connected, immersive digital future.

In this report, we attempt to demystify competing visions of the metaverse, identify the potential impact on existing business models, and highlight strategic opportunities for Standard Chartered and as well as for our clients.

Brief History & Evolution of the Metaverse

What is the Metaverse?

 “Just as it was hard to envision in 1982 what the Internet of 2020 would be…we don’t really know yet how to describe the Metaverse.”

Matthew Ball, US Entrepreneur, and Investor

“I see the Metaverse as the gradual convergence of the digital world with the physical world. A world where we no longer notice a distinction between our digital avatars and our physical selves. This is the next iteration of the internet. And as dystopian it may sound, this is the next iteration of life.”

Ryan Gill Cofounder & CEO of Crucible

Innovation does not travel in straight lines and a common understanding of the terms used to describe a new category often lags what can be seen ‘in the wild’. This applies to language used to describe the Metaverse today and is driven in part by different companies using the same terms to stake a claim to their vision of the future.

While we can start to describe the metaverse in terms of things which are becoming more commonplace, for example virtual reality headsets, the graphic below lays out a broader set of attributes which commentators predict are required for a fully realized metaverse.

Figure 1. Key Characteristics of the Metaverse

While almost all visions of the metaverse assume some kind of immersive audio-visual experience, many of the other attributes highlighted above are at a very early stage or yet to be realized.

What are the competing visions of the metaverse?

One of the biggest questions is whether the metaverse will be “centralized” - powered by private platforms such as Facebook or Epic Games (the creators of the popular game Fortnite) or “Decentralized” - built and owned by public users on open protocols such as Decentraland or The Sandbox.

In a centralized metaverse, a single entity would govern the experience, define who has access and likely capture most of the value generated on a specific metaverse platform. This of course leaves open the possibility of there being multiple different competing metaverses.

In a decentralized metaverse, the platform is built on open-source software and governed by community members (users), who have the freedom to design the platform collaboratively and make decisions about the future direction it might take.

Community governance may seem fanciful but Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, known as DAOs, do exist at scale – most notably within Decentralized Finance (DeFi) - lending some credibility to this notion.

As corporate and consumer activity grows, the ranking of centralized vs. decentralized metaverse visions will likely change, although, it is too early to tell whether the trend towards decentralization, which ultimately fueled the growth of Web 1.0 after a centralized first inning, will prevail.

How close are we to a paradigm shift?

What needs to be true?

Many believe it will take years for the enabling technologies and conditions to develop for widespread adoption of a fully realized metaverse. Whether it takes three years or ten, however, sufficient momentum is building for many corporate strategy teams to be investigating what the impact might be.

There will be no clean ‘Before Metaverse’ and ‘After Metaverse’, instead, it will emerge over time as different products, services, and capabilities evolve. This journey is unlikely to be linear, with the last 12 months representing a notable period of rapid acceleration.

What are the likely growth vectors?

There are competing views on how the metaverse will most likely grow; Gaming, Enterprise adoption and Social networks are generally considered to be the most likely vectors.

Gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox are starting from a position of significant strength. Immersive games and their corresponding ecosystems (such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Diablo) are massive franchises that have fully established virtual worlds and communities.

To give a sense of scale, Fortnite is currently home to over 350 million registered users and frequently hosts 8 million concurrently; Roblox, another popular gaming platform which went public in 2021 reported over 55 million daily active users on its platform in February 2022.

The respective communities of Fortnite and Roblox can interact on their individual platforms, but they have limited ability to control, own or share in the revenue from the digital worlds they inhabit and are effectively separate technological silos.

On the enterprise software front, Microsoft aims to lead what it calls “the enterprise metaverse" through initiatives such as Microsoft Mesh[2]. CEO Satya Nadella is likely to use Microsoft’s $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard to lead in the content, talent, and community war. In a Microsoft-powered metaverse secular shifts around remote work and the evolution of immersive collaboration tools e.g., Microsoft Teams are front and centre.

Lastly, Meta (formerly Facebook’s) vision of “helping to bring the metaverse to life” appears to be gaining traction. Facebook, as the pre-eminent global social network, is obviously well-positioned particularly given their ownership of the VR hardware company Oculus. The Oculus Quest 2 headset costs around $300 and is estimated to have sold 10 million units in the last 12 months – notably outselling Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console. On the social networking giant’s shift towards a new metaverse-focused vision, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared the following sentiment: “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet…We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.

With continued innovation in metaverse-related hardware by multiple different companies, we will likely see new devices that accelerate user adoption. Rumors of an Apple VR headset have circulated within the tech community for several years. The device may be as light as an iPhone (about 150 grams) which, if true, will be less than a third of the Quest 2 and other competing brands and will expand the number of viable use cases.

How might consumer behavior shift in a metaverse-enabled world?

According to consumer investor Rex Woodbury of Index Ventures, "the next generation of consumer companies will have business models that resemble Fortnite more than they resemble Facebook” and there is growing evidence that consumers are positive about a move from digital experiences to immersive experiences with the tendency increasing after their first immersive experience.

For example, in a recent survey gauging the appeal of virtual events, respondents familiar with the metaverse were significantly more likely to favour virtual events compared with those who were unfamiliar with the concept.

Figure 2. Shifting consumer attitudes towards future digital experiences in the metaverse (Wunderman Thompson)

In one example, popular videogaming platform Fortnite demonstrated massive success in hosting virtual concerts. In December 2019, 3 million people watched a Star Wars event hosted by JJ Abrams and in April 2020 28 million people “attended” a concert by musician Travis Scott. In these events, players have the option to engage with the platform as their favorite characters. Woodbury notes that corporates have been eager to offer free virtual assets in exchange for brand affinity; For example, Disney partnered with Fortnite to introduce Marvel “skins” and the US National Football League (NFL) provided NFL jerseys. Both virtual assets were offered for free. Corporations and celebrities are also continuing to explore in-game presences as promotional tools, akin to appearances or performances on traditional talk shows.

The metaverse is a powerful tool for corporates to connect with users as these experiences offer something more than the passive consumption of media we are accustomed to today. According to Alexander Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of Streamline Media Group, “[immersive experiences] take you to another world, bring a sense of wonder and require a suspension of disbelief. It’s psychologically more engaging.” Additionally, the immersive experience removes the distractions of the physical world and enables users to be transported to settings where they can be “fully engaged.”

Digital Goods

Consumers are shifting to view digital goods as comparable to physical goods and prefer digital, immersive shopping experiences

According to a survey by Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, 75% of respondents believe that digital craftsmanship requires the same expertise as physical craftsmanship. This belief is shared by respondents across multiple geographies with China scoring the highest.

Figure 3. Shifting consumer attitudes towards digital craftsmanship (Wunderman Thompson)

This attitude is even more evident amongst younger cohorts who display preferences for digital shopping over in-store experiences. Neha Singh, CEO of Obsess (a virtual store platform that assists brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger to create virtual shopping destinations) states that “data indicates that the majority of younger consumers want to be able to shop their favorite brands anywhere they go online, including on metaverse platforms…These shoppers have grown up with online videogames, esports and social media and many of them see the emerging metaverse as a modern-day mall—a connected virtual world where they can hang out, shop and socialize. For retail brands, these survey findings highlight the importance of creating sound metaverse commerce strategies today that will resonate with consumers over the coming years.”

Consumers seem to be responding positively to immersive, social commerce models. These models, such as China’s Pinduoduo, enable new ways for consumers to shop with their friends and provide immersive, gamified experiences. In a recent example, the department store wing of South Korea's retail giant Lotte Group announced a partnership with software developer Vaiv to create a metaverse version of their store.

Many also believe there is massive potential for immersive shopping experiences in travel and hospitality. Virtual reality tools will enable consumers to feel and experience prospective destinations. For example advertising agency Whitespace’s award-winning AR portal for VisitScotland enabled potential tourists to experience the country using virtual reality.

What “Real World” examples of adoption are there?

Marketing and Brand building

In addition to the recent headlines from Meta and Microsoft we are also seeing examples of companies incorporating the metaverse in numerous subtle, yet strategic ways.

New Business Lines: In December 2021, sportswear brand Nike announced its acquisition of RTFKT (pronounced ‘artefact’), a digital design studio producing trainers and other collectibles that can be worn across different online environments. In this way, Nike intends to diversify its products into the metaverse, potentially ramping up its own production of virtual wearables.

Enhancing Corporate-Consumer Relations: As metaverse expert Cathy Hackl notes: “brands will need to continue adapting to relationship styles of play and interactions. Customers won’t just be able to talk to brands as they do today on social media, they’ll be able to interact with them in 3D form.” For example, in August 2021, French fashion house Louis Vuitton (LV) celebrated its founder’s 200th birth anniversary by launching a mobile game called LOUIS THE GAME. The brand created its own story and world to explore, mimicking a role-playing game (RPG). Furthermore, in January 2022, Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet stated that the company’s participation in the virtual world helps it connect with younger shoppers, and it subsequently participated in metaverse platform Zepeto and Roblox, where shoppers can dress their avatars in Ralph Lauren apparel.

Community Building: In September 2021, Vans partnered with Roblox to launch “Vans World”, a persistent 3D skate park that allows users to compete, connect with others, design virtual skateboards and Vans shoes. The virtual skate park has attracted over 50 million visitors and has allowed Vans to generate an additional source of revenue through the sale of virtual items.

Experiences: As mentioned above, through the corporate partnerships developed with Fortnite and musical artists, multi-million-dollar opportunities exist for corporates to connect with consumers through virtual events and experiences. Corporates are now exploring how different types of social gatherings, immersive education, travel, and other untapped experiences can complement existing business activities.

Brand Protection and Digital Asset Ownership:  Another indicator of companies embracing the metaverse is seen by the increased number of trademark registrations being filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office, and their foreign equivalents.  These applications seek to extend trademark protection over use of the applicant’s brand in the virtual world and in the virtual goods and services that they intend to offer in the Metaverse.   The applicants span a wide number of industries and examples of companies who have registered, or are seeking to register, their trademarks, include Nike, Ralph Lauren, Walmart and McDonalds.  There is also heightened awareness in relation to other intellectual property considerations relating to the creation, sale and use of digital assets.  These include the need to watch out for licensing arrangements and ownership rights over the digital assets, particularly where the digital asset is created as part of a collaboration or where it may be commercialized or exploited.   While enforceability of rights over digital assets still remain uncertain, there are an increasing number of cases being brought involving unauthorised use of a brand’s trademarks (such as in the recent lawsuit filed by Hermes against Mason Rothschild involving Hermes’ popular “Birkin” bag).  These are currently being disputed with significant interest in what their outcomes are going to be.

Digital space: metaverse real estate

“Virtual worlds have been destigmatized as a result of COVID in a truly unique way. COVID has legitimized time in virtual worlds in a way that almost no other event could have.”

Matthew Ball, Metaverse VC & Essayist

There has been accelerated interest in the concept of digital real estate in recent years. Imagine a digital twin of the physical world, in which you can explore, engage, and interact with others using augmented & virtual reality devices.

While still in the earliest stages, investment into the metaverse real estate market has drawn the fascination of the public as early investors commit significant amounts of money to digital land. In 2021, CNBC reported $500 million was invested into metaverse real estate, an amount projected to double this year.

Most of this activity is concentrated into the “Big Four” platforms: Decentraland, Sandbox, Cryptovoxels and Somnium. These platforms have dominated the market, and together represent a total of 268,645 virtual land parcels, all of varying sizes.

Platform Founded Developer(s) Users  Virtual Land Parcels Coin
Decentraland 2015 (launched 2020) The Decentraland Foundation 8.5 million (Dec 2021) Fixed at 90,601 MANA
The Sandbox 2011 (re-launched in 2021) Animoca Brands (Hong Kong) 2 million (March 2022) Fixed at 166,464 SAND
Cryptovoxels 2018 Nolan Consulting (New Zealand) ~9,000 (Sept 2021) Unlimited (7,351 as of Feb 2022) ETH
Somnium 2017 (launched 2018) Artur Sychov (Czech Republic) ~4,600 (March 2022) Fixed at 5,025 CUBE

Figure 4. Comparing the four most popular virtual land platforms today

Decentraland, an open-source 3D virtual world platform founded in 2015, allows users to place 3D models in a digital space using a simple drag and drop builder tool. Professionals can generate interactive content and code advanced applications, games, and animations. With a fixed 90,600 parcels on the platform, users can invest in parcels that are expected to appreciate over time. In December 2021, Tokens.com spent a record-breaking $2.4 million for 116 parcels in Decentraland’s fashion district, where the company plans to host fashion events and retail shops. Decentraland is one of the oldest Metaverse platforms and has collaborated with Samsung and the Australian Open (AO) in the past.

Similarly, The Sandbox, a leading decentralized gaming virtual world, has gained much recent attention. In January 2022, the company announced it was working with multiple partners in the entertainment, finance, gaming, real estate, and Hong Kong film industry to create a virtual Mega City, which will be “will be a cultural hub based on or inspired by multiple Hong Kong talents”; Standard Chartered itself announced a partnership with the Sandbox and the purchase of land in Mega City in April 2022[3].

Remote work and the evolution of the office

The current virtual office environment has been the most popular office for many in recent years. As the global pandemic accelerated the development of fully remote or hybrid work settings, employers and employees have had ample amounts of time to rethink the nature and importance of the physical office. As workers look to more immersive work environments in the future, AR/VR solutions such as Spatial are paving the way to a true metaverse workforce.

As Ben Thompson writes, the metaverse can play a key role in enabling the Future of Work: “Think again over the last couple of years: most of those people working from home were hunched over a laptop screen; ideally one was able to connect an external monitor, but even that is relatively limited in size and resolution. A future VR headset, though, could contain as many monitors as you could possibly want — or your entire field of view could be one massive monitor. Moreover, the fact that a headset shifts your senses out of your physical environment is actually an advantage if said physical environment has nothing to do with your work.

Potential Impact

Figure 5. The Seven Layers of the Metaverse (Jon Radoff)

Jon Radoff, CEO of gaming startup Beamable provides a helpful framework that breaks down the metaverse down into 7 different layers in which we are seeing companies operate:

  1. Experience: This is the most obvious layer to consumers - users interact in digitally driven environments through content such as games, shopping, NFTs, e-sports and events.
  2. Discovery: This refers to the push and pull process of introducing new experiences to users. Generally, discovery can be classified as either inbound (app stores, search engines for reviews and ratings) or outbound (notifications and display advertising).
  3. Creator economy: The creator economy layer refers to the design tools, marketplaces, and workflow platforms used by creators to build and release metaverse worlds, experiences and assets.
  4. Spatial computing: Technologies such as AR, VR, extended reality (XR) and space mapping fall under this layer - which is central to blending the physical and virtual.
  5. Decentralisation: This covers both the hardware decentralization – required for high resolution experiences - and decentralization of ownership via blockchains.
  6. Human interface: The technology allowing our physical body to interact with the digital world.
  7. Infrastructure: The underlying technology, storage, compute and distribution that powers the metaverse.

Financial Service Impact

In the financial services industry there are an increasing number of ways in which the metaverse may impact existing business models and spur new ones.

Investment Products: As digital assets become central to metaverse presence and activity, asset managers are increasingly interested in enabling their customers to invest in this new category. Enabling technology such as MetaMask Institutional is making it easier for corporates, family offices, and financial institutions to integrate with the asset rails used within these worlds thereby driving access and growth. Standard Chartered’s Zodia, one of the first institutional-grade custody solutions for crypto currencies is already exploring how to support a broader range of digital assets. Additionally, metaverse ETFs (such as the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF) and the concept of metaverse real estate mortgages have made headlines.

Client Experience: The immersive nature of metaverse technologies allow financial firms to connect with clients in new ways. For example, South Korean KB Kookmin Bank launched, KB Financial Town, a virtual version of a traditional bank branch. Furthermore, results from a 2020 study conducted by University College Dublin testing the effectiveness of VR uses on communication in financial services (as opposed to video conferences) pointed to improved feelings of presence and closeness by the participants.

Metaverse Finance (“MetaFi”): Today’s nascent digital creator economy, which includes publishing, gaming (skin creation), digital art, streaming, music and more, is home to over 50 million content creators. These artists create digital goods and are often paid in digital tokens which are exchanged within an emerging digital asset economy. We have seen early examples of these markets through the growth of NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) representing land and assets as well as “in game currencies” such as Robux. This new economy heralds new kinds of financial services described as “MetaFi” and is a natural place for existing financial services companies to explore.

Strategic Opportunities

“When I think about the bank of the future, I often think about my sons and how they play Fortnite with their friends.”

- Derek White, BBVA's Global Head of Client Solutions (April 2020)

In addition to activities by banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, many other financial firms have signaled their interest in the metaverse.

In February 2022, JP Morgan announced its "Onyx Lounge" in Decentraland, and released a paper explaining the metaverse opportunities they are exploring.

Banco Santander and BBVA indirectly made their debut in the Decentraland metaverse in February 2022 as joint shareholders in the developer Metrovacesa. Metrovacesa and Datacasas Proptech, a Spanish startup specializing in the online sale of properties, plans to market digital real estate in the metaverse.

In November 2021, HSBC joined a $200M funding round for ConsenSys, a blockchain software engineering firm, that notably owns MetaMask Institutional, a solution which will allow corporates to integrate with digital assets more easily.

SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) through their innovation arm SCB10X opened the doors to their Sandbox property in March 2022 at the same time as announcing a $600m digital asset fund and metaverse creation studio.

Lastly, in January 2022, DBS held its H1 2022 Market Outlook entitled “Into the Metaverse”, where the firm explored top emerging investment trends. CIO of Consumer Banking & Wealth Management Hou Wey Fook examined the questions of whether the digital economy will be potentially larger than the physical one.

Conclusion

With any paradigm shift, it can be difficult to separate valid signal from speculative noise. Over the past two years we argue, the metaverse signal to noise ratio has improved with concrete investments, software maturity, hardware improvements and consumer awareness all increasing. Consequently, many corporates are now trying to work out “how” the metaverse will impact their business, not ‘If”.

Changing consumer behavior complemented by rapidly developing technology are strongly signaling that our future social and professional lives including how we earn, spend, and invest our money will become increasingly immersed in virtual worlds.

It was not so long ago that consumers were baffled by the investment in .com addresses in the same way many are today with purchases of digital land. With only a relatively short 40-year history, the internet looks set to evolve again in ways that will radically change how we live and work.

 

[1] These figures represent the midpoint of Analyst estimates of the rapidly growing digital economy as a proxy for the metaverse.

[2] Microsoft Mesh https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/mesh

[3] https://scventures.io/standard-chartered-partners-with-the-sandbox-to-create-metaverse-experience/

Appendix

Disclaimer

This document is prepared and issued by SC Ventures, a division of Standard Chartered Bank (“SC”) that invests in disruptive technology and explores alternative business models for SC.   SC (incorporated with limited liability in England by Royal Charter) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (“PRA”) and regulated by the PRA and the Financial Conduct Authority.

It is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended, and should not be relied upon, as advice on the regulatory, accounting or other treatment of any topics presented herein. It is not intended to offer recommendations or advice (including but not limited to any recommendations or advice in relation to investing in or purchasing digital assets) nor to sell any product or provide any service. SC does not provide accounting or regulatory advice and recommends that you seek advice from your own lawyers, accountants, auditors and/or other professional advisers (“Advisors”).

While reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, SC, its affiliates and its and its affiliates’ directors, officers or employees (the “SC Group”) does not accept any responsibility or liability of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this document or for errors of fact or for any opinion expressed herein. Accounting laws, rules, regulations, standards and other guidelines may differ in different countries and/or may change at any time without notice. The SC Group is under no obligation to update the document or to inform you or anyone else about any change (whether or not known or apparent to the SCB Group) to the information in the document.

This document is provided to assist interested parties in making a preliminary analysis of the topics presented herein and does not purport to be all-inclusive or to contain all of the information that you may require to make a full analysis of the topics. It is for information and discussion purposes only and does not constitute either an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any digital asset, security or any financial instrument or enter into any transaction or recommendation to acquire or dispose of any investment.

Information (including summaries of regulations) appearing herein has been obtained from various public sources believed to be reliable. We do not represent or warrant that this information is accurate or complete. Accordingly, it should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein does not purport to identify or suggest all the risks (direct or indirect) that may be associated with conducting business. SC may not have the necessary licenses to provide services or offer products in all countries or such provision of services or offering of products may be subject to the regulatory requirements of each jurisdiction and you should check with your Advisors before proceeding. You are expected to exercise your own independent judgment (with the advice of your Advisors) with respect to the risks and consequences of any matter contained herein. We expressly disclaim any liability and responsibility for any losses arising from any uses to which this document is put and for any errors or omissions in this document.

© Copyright 2022 Standard Chartered Bank. All rights reserved. All copyrights subsisting and arising out of these materials belong to Standard Chartered Bank and may not be reproduced, distributed, amended, modified, adapted, transmitted in any form, or translated in any way without the prior written consent of Standard Chartered Bank.

 


Standard Chartered partners with The Sandbox to create metaverse experience

Standard Chartered partners with The Sandbox to create metaverse experience

25 April 2022, Hong Kong – Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (“SCBHK”) today announced a new partnership with The Sandbox, a leading decentralised gaming virtual world, to create innovative experiences for our clients and the community.

SCBHK is the first bank to acquire virtual land at The Sandbox metaverse’s Mega City district, a culture hub based on or inspired by Hong Kong talents.

Led by SC Ventures, Standard Chartered Group’s innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm, SCBHK will actively engage its clients, partners, staff, and the tech community, to explore co-creation opportunities in this new and exciting space, with the goal of experimenting and building new experiences for clients, as well as bringing the local sports and art communities into the metaverse.

Mary Huen, Chief Executive of Standard Chartered, Hong Kong said: “The metaverse is a vision for the next phase in the internet’s evolution, bringing new possibilities and unique experiences through the use of immersive technologies. Our involvement in the metaverse allows us to reimagine our relationship with existing and potential clients on this new platform and our approach to enhance client journeys. Having acquired virtual land in Mega City, a natural choice for the Bank given its distinctive Hong Kong theme, perfectly fits with our promise of strengthening our continued presence in Hong Kong, whether physical or virtual.”

Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures, Standard Chartered, said: “For the past few years, we have been building business models in crypto, digital assets and see the rise of the metaverse as a critical milestone in the Web 3.0 evolution. We are excited for this opportunity to explore and innovate in partnership with The Sandbox, but also with our clients and partners who will play a crucial role in how this space develops.”

SC Ventures has been investing in disruptive financial technology and exploring alternative business models for the Bank. The innovation arm will continue to drive the Bank’s entrance into the metaverse and exploration of future Web 3.0 opportunities.

 

If you're keen to explore partnership opportunities with SC Ventures, contact us at scventures@sc.com.

 

For further information please contact:

Nicole Lo
Corporate Affairs
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited
+852 3843 0331
Nicole.Lo@sc.com

Standard Chartered

We are a leading international banking group, with a presence in 59 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 83. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, here for good.

Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.

The history of Standard Chartered in Hong Kong dates back to 1859. It is currently one of the Hong Kong SAR’s three note-issuing banks. Standard Chartered incorporated its Hong Kong business on 1 July 2004, and now operates as a licensed bank in Hong Kong under the name of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered PLC.

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StanChart eyes a share of Kenya’s rising e-commerce

Source: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/corporate/companies/stanchart-eyes-a-share-of-kenyas-rising-e-commerce-3732478

TUESDAY MARCH 01 2022

Standard Chartered Plc  is set to enter the local e-commerce business through Solv, a technology firm it first launched in India in December 2020.

The multinational’s local subsidiary, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, is expected to be among the financial partners of the platform which offers small businesses an online marketplace, support services and credit from multiple lenders.

“Expansion of Solv India tech stack to Kenya to attract financial anchors for scale with additional countries being assessed,” Standard Chartered Plc said when releasing results for the year ended December.

The entry of Solv marks increased interest in the country’s financial technology sector where digitisation of supply chains for small and medium-sized firms is one of the growing trends.

Solv India says it has signed up 1,000 sellers and 30,000 buyers in the Asian country. The platform offers an online business-to-business marketplace where sellers are able to reach new and verified customers.

Buyers on the other hand can source quality products at competitive prices from verified and pre-screened suppliers. Through Solv, businesses can access loans and invoice-based financing for orders placed on the platform.

Other services include logistics and insurance. Standard Chartered Plc owns Solv and launched it in India through SC Ventures –its innovation, venture capital, and financial technology arm.

Its local banking subsidiary Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, in which it holds a majority 73.89 percent stake, is expected to be among the providers of the loans to be issued on Solv.

It will mark StanChart’s growth and diversification outside the mainstay of corporate banking. The lender has been expanding its financial services, most of them automated, to fit its digitisation strategy.

The bank last year announced plans to enter the mobile lending business which has emerged as a popular means of serving retail clients.

It recently entered the money market fund business in partnership with Sanlam Investments East Africa and global digital wealth technology provider Bambu, allowing customers to make investments of as low as Sh1,000.

This adds to its wealth management business through which customers can buy and sell Kenya government debt securities on its digital platform SC Mobile app.

StanChart reported a 46.6 percent net profit growth in the nine months ended September on the back of lower costs and higher non-interest income.

Its net earnings in the review period stood at Sh6.3 billion, up from Sh4.3 billion a year earlier.

The performance saw the bank declare a surprise interim dividend of Sh5 per share.

emwenda@ke.nationmedia.com

 

Learn more about what we do at SC Ventures: https://scventures.io/about-us/

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Silent Eight Raises $40m in Series B Round

Source: https://www.silenteight.com/2022/03/10/silent-eight-raises-40m-in-series-b-round/

  • AI platform enforces economic sanctions and investigates all other financial crime risks
  • Capital will support technology functions globally, headcount to double by end of 2022
  • Valuation quadrupled since last funding round in 2020

[Singapore, 10 March 2022] Silent Eight, a pioneer in the field of AI enhanced economic sanctions enforcement and financial crime prevention, today announces the closing of a $40m Series B funding round. The round was led by TYH Ventures and welcomed HSBC Ventures, the firm’s latest customer to also become an investor.

OTB Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, SC Ventures (Standard Chartered Bank’s venture unit), Aglaia, and Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman and General Partner of Altara Ventures, continued their investment from previous funding rounds. Kolya Miller from TYH Ventures is joining the board.

Everyday millions of financial crime professionals work diligently to stop illicit funds from entering and moving through the global financial system. Silent Eight’s AI platform for financial crime investigates every suspicious transaction, beneficiary, and customer in real-time. Perfectly researched and explained every time at unparalleled speed and scale.

“HSBC has been pleased with the progress made by Silent Eight’s AI platform,” said Ore Adeyemi from HSBC Ventures. “We look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership through this investment, and we are excited that my colleague Tom Caine is also joining as a Board Observer to help drive this investment partnership”

Silent Eight has raised $55m to date. Today’s round brings the firm’s total valuation to four times its previous value in October 2020. In that time revenue has grown sixfold and headcount has tripled.

“Historic performance has been strong and the future revenue growth projections are even stronger. This is a business that’s poised to scale,” said Kolya Miller of TYH Ventures. “We have been incredibly impressed with Silent Eight’s leadership and are fortunate to be involved in such an impactful enterprise.”

Today’s funding will predominantly be used to expand technology functions in support of Silent Eight’s rapidly expanding customer base. The firm expects to hire over 150 data scientists, developers and engineers in 2022.

“We are here to support our customers and the policy makers of the world by ensuring that the benefits of the most advanced Artificial Intelligence systems are available on the frontlines of crime fighting” said Martin Markiewicz, Silent Eight CEO and Founder.

About Silent Eight:
Silent Eight is a technology company leveraging AI to create compliance platforms for the world’s leading financial institutions. Our mission is to empower our clients in their fight to eliminate financial
crime. Founded in Singapore and with global hubs in New York, London, and Warsaw, we are deployed in over 150 markets. For more information, visit: www.silenteight.com

About TYH Ventures:
TYH Ventures is a family office anchored firm that provides venture capital in the form of both fund and direct investments. TYH's core thesis includes investing in verticals across a diverse range of industries, and seeks to provide both equity and strategic relationships at the company's inflection point.

At SC Ventures, we co-create, build and invest to scale breakthrough business models in banking. Find out more about what we do: https://scventures.io/our-business/

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