The top-ten insurance broker in the United States is establishing a metaverse research and development facility called “Web3Labs.”
Initially, it was banks that began to arrive in the metaverse; now, it is insurance businesses.
IMA Financial Group, a prominent insurance brokerage and wealth management organization based in the United States, is establishing a research and development center in Decentraland, the Ethereum-based virtual world in which Wall Street megabank JPMorgan Chase just established a presence.
IMA Financial Group’s venture into the metaverse, nicknamed “Web3Labs,” was prompted by the rapid rise of the non-fungible token (NFT) market, according to Justin Jacobs, senior vice president of marketing at IMA Financial Group and architect of Web3Labs.
“We have this enormous asset class worth more than $40 billion for which there are no typical insurance products,” Jacobs explained in an interview with CoinDesk, referring to Chainalysis’s 2021 research. “I believe that many NFTs would be called works of art, and today we do a lot of business in the domain of specie insurance; fine art, collectibles, and similar items.”
The crypto insurance question
Until now, insurance and cryptocurrency have been difficult bedfellows, with inconsistent coverage and a paucity of capacity confined to a small number of reputable exchanges and custodians.
In terms of the nuts and bolts of digital asset insurance, specialist underwriters from Lloyd’s of London who work in the specie insurance market (policies covering high-value items such as gold bullion and works of art stored in secure storage facilities) have shifted their focus to cryptocurrency locked up in cold storage.
IMA, one of the largest privately held and employee-owned brokers in the United States with projected revenues of over $500 million this year, has relationships with Lloyd’s syndicates for several of its business lines, according to Jacobs. However, there are currently no insurance policies targeting NFTs, he explained.
Metaverse value chain
Apart from establishing a presence in Decentraland, IMA wishes to study the full metaverse value chain, Jacobs explained, including advising clients who may be hesitant about topics such as decentralized finance (DeFi).
As such, he added, crypto, NFTs, and the metaverse might be compared to the emerging cannabis industry in the United States, where corporations were previously afraid to tread but now handle a sizable book of business.
The IMA’s Web3Labs launches with interactive material and content, as well as a tranche of NFTs the firm will mint, but the goal is to create a space for transactions – such as negotiating insurance coverage for an NFT someone is considering purchasing, for example.
“I absolutely believe we are quickly approaching an inflection point,” IMA executive Paul Washington said in an interview. “There’s of course a big focus on asset building in the metaverse, which needs to be considered from a risk mitigation standpoint, no question.”
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.