British multinational banking giant HSBC is the latest whopping great big institution to take the plunge into… yep, you guessed it… the metaverse, buying a piece of digital land in The Sandbox virtual world.

This is notable for a few reasons, but partly because HSBC hasn’t exactly been the most crypto-friendly organisation in the past.

In January last year, for instance, the banking titan blocked UK-residing crypto users from moving funds from cryptocurrency exchanges to their UK banking accounts.

Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”: probably somewhere in the metaverse by now.

The bank’s CEO, Noel Quinn, has also in the past made it perfectly clear that the institution is “not into Bitcoin as an asset class”, according to a Reuters report last May.

Additionally, in August, HSBC blocked credit card payments to the world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance, warning about “possible risks to customers”.

Neverthless… The Sandbox, which is a subsidiary of the crypto-gaming development and investment powerhouse Animoca Brands, made an announcement today that details HSBC’s crypto U-turn.

According to the statement, the global bank has acquired a plot of ‘LAND’ – a virtual space that will be “developed to engage and connect with sports, esports and gaming enthusiasts”.

The amount spent on the pixelated-land acquisition is undisclosed at this point, but you can get a sense of what the plot looks like in the tweet below. It notably includes an HSBC-branded rugby stadium – the bank is the current sponsor of the World Rugby Sevens series.

A closer look at the ‘HSBC Stadium’. (Image:

HSBC’s Suresh Balaji, chief marketing officer for the Asia-Pacific region, said in the statement that the metaverse “is how people will experience web3, the next generation of the internet”.

“At HSBC, we see great potential to create new experiences through emerging platforms, opening up a world of opportunity for our current and future customers and for the communities we serve,” he added.


‘The beginning’ of broader metaverse adoption

The banking group is just the latest mega brand to have landed in the metaverse via The Sandbox. Some others include Adidas, Gucci, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft and even JPMorgan, just to name a handful.

The Sandbox’s co-founder and COO Sebastien Borget said that the virtual-world interest from entities such as HSBC indicates “the beginning of a broader adoption of web3 and the metaverse by institutions driving brand experiences and engagement within this new ecosystem.”

Animoca Brands meanwhile has its tentacles spread far and wide across the metaverse and the crypto-gaming industry and has been attracting a lot of VC capital flow over the past 12 months.

The Sandbox raised US$93 million in a round led by VC firm SoftBank in November last year, which was big. But that was dwarfed by the US$500 million Animoca Brands itself raised in January this year, from the likes of Liberty City Ventures, Soros Fund Management, Winklevoss twins-owned funds and others.