Digital currency

Digital currencies are coming into focus for emerging use cases, including cross-border payments and remittances, loyalty and rewards and digital wallet integration even as the market ebbs and flows.

Cryptocurrency has been experiencing market volatility, bad actors and scrutiny by regulators, investors and consumers. As a result, we don’t expect cryptocurrency to be accepted as a payment type at the point of sale anytime soon. Trust in digital currency systems by all stakeholders, including financial institutions, businesses and governments, will have to be restored before widespread adoption will occur.

Thanks to their speed and transparency, digital currencies are already being used for cross-border payments and remittances. Their decentralized nature—unlike conventional currencies backed by central banks—means they represent a fast, cost-effective, transparent and frictionless option for cross-border transactions.

The World Bank notes that the demand for affordable, frictionless cross-border payments has grown. Yet, it says, “Cross-border payments have not kept pace with the intensive modernization that has characterized domestic payment services worldwide. An alternative avenue to modernize the delivery of cross-border payment services is being increasingly explored in the context of central banks issuing their own digital currency. A central bank digital currency or CBDC could well incorporate options and features specifically designed to execute cross-border payments, with a view to reducing inefficiencies… by shortening the payments value chain.”


Digital currency simplifies cross-border transactions

Digital currencies are facilitating new cross-border trade in a growing number of sectors. Agrotoken, the first global tokenization platform for agro-commodities, has a card that converts grains into digital tokens. These tokens can be traded or stored for supplies, services and other assets across several territories.27 So far, users have bought supplies, vehicles, agriculture machines and farms with the tokens.


Digital currency simplifies cross-border transactions

Benetton is just one of several notable brands already exploring this new tech environment. During Milan Fashion Week, the brand transformed one of its physical stores in Milan to mirror its virtual world in the metaverse. Visitors can't buy items in the Benetton metaverse store yet—but it does offer gaming experiences and the opportunity to collect QR codes to make purchases in Benetton's physical stores.47 This kind of virtual-to-physical commerce experience will become more common as the metaverse matures.

Nike recently launched a partnership with Roblox, a centralized metaverse and online multiplayer gaming platform. The project involves the creation of a virtual world called Nikeland, based on the brand's real-life HQ building. Nikeland is an experience within Roblox that features fields and arenas for players to compete in various mini-games, including tag and dodgeball. In its first four months of operation, Nikeland attracted 7 million people.48 Roblox has also created metaverse experiences with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Chipotle and the NFL.


Consumers are already familiar with using biometrics—physical markers like a finger, face or iris—to access their smartphones. Now, they’re ready to use them for payments. Eighty-six percent are interested in extending the use of biometrics to verify their identity or make payments.

A third of the businesses we surveyed indicated that payments using biometric identification and authentication will be the top commerce and payment trend of 2023. Nearly a fifth (19.8%) reported they will invest in enabling biometric identification and payment authentication in the year ahead.

Businesses are focused on the potential of biometrics and what they can do to improve operations. For example, biometrics offer greater security by relying on a physical characteristic, more convenience without needing a card or wallet and a faster payment experience overall.

Thanks to its familiarity in everyday use—from unlocking your smartphone to clearing security at the airport—public acceptance of biometric authentication is strong. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers around the world have a positive attitude toward biometric technology.

For consumers, the advantages of biometric authentication are speed and simplicity. In fact, 70% of consumers believe biometrics are easy, and 46% think they are more secure than passwords or PINs.34 That’s because they don’t need to memorize PINs and passwords or worry about handing their credit card over to someone to swipe.

Loyalty and rewards

One use case for financial institutions and businesses to consider is loyalty and rewards. According to research from S&P, “Enabling the exchange of cashback reward points for various cryptocurrencies” is a near-term market opportunity.28

Businesses can also use crypto reward programs to appeal to new consumer groups.

Dawn of the metaverse

The metaverse could present exciting new opportunities for companies willing to reimagine the customer experience in a completely new environment. It offers the potential for co-creation with consumers, leading to even deeper relationships with customers everywhere. However, with challenges like accessibility, data privacy and security, it's still very early and could take years to realize its full potential.


The metaverse represents a new opportunity for businesses to reach and engage new and existing customer segments. To make the most of it, businesses are exploring early, and ultimately, will need to reimagine how they interact with consumers in a virtual world.

The metaverse is still being defined. Most tend to agree that it represents the blending of digital and physical realities. Its immersive experiences give people a real-life “feel” even though they interact in virtual, digital spaces.

“The metaverse is the next place people are going to interact and connect,” said Chan. He described what social experiences could look like. “Let’s say you walk into a clothing store and you want to try something on. Your avatar can actually put it on and ask your friends what they think. Then you go to the cashier to make the purchase, completing the experience with human interaction. These 3D experiences, combining virtual and physical, are unlike ecommerce today.”10

Biometric authentication means more efficient payments

Biometric authentication helps make paying faster and easier. These two reasons are why biometric payments are on the fast track for adoption. The technology is already available with companies building solutions to authenticate payments using several unique biometric markers.