When Mark Zuckerberg decides to bet big on something, the rest of the world tends to pay attention. And over recent weeks, it’s become apparent he is betting big on the “Metaverse”, as evidenced by his October 28 announcement, when Facebook was officially renamed “Meta Platform”. But what is the “Metaverse” and the “Meta Platform” and where do digital assets fit in, if at all?
In brief, the Metaverse is an online 3D space where users can interact virtually. It will combine aspects of augmented and virtual reality, social media, online gaming and cryptocurrencies to create a fully virtual environment for its users - and Facebook plans to focus its efforts on developing it. The corporation expects to spend at least $10 billion on this project in 2021 alone, and this figure is only likely to increase in the coming years.
Readers would be forgiven for seeing no difference between the Metaverse and Web 3.0, and they are in fact very similar concepts. The easiest way to understand the difference is to see Web 3.0 as the engine that powers Metaverse products and solutions.
READ: How is crypto setting the stage for Web 3.0?
The Metaverse is set to be a place where all users are able to seamlessly plug into a virtual reality. Web 3.0 is the evolution of how users control their online identities and digital assets, underpinned by blockchain technology. As such, Web 3.0 will encompass both the Metaverse and other web-based applications that will not fall under the scope of the Metaverse.
The role of digital assets
Despite these subtle differences, one thing is certain: the two concepts cannot exist without one another. And consequently, neither can exist without blockchain technology, which has the power to revolutionize how users interact with data.
Source: https://coinmarketcap.com/, Nov 18, 2021
Touted as the next big thing in technology, the Metaverse could forever change gaming, advertising, and the entire idea of ownership. While today, owning physical objects remains desirable, the move towards a virtual world will boost the value of digital assets. These include non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies, which will be an integral part of how this new reality functions, allowing users to engage in play-to-earn models and prove ownership of their digital assets.
READ: How and why did NFTs survive the crypto downturn?
In the gaming world, we are already seeing projects that are fully embracing this virtual future. This includes the long-awaited launch of Sandbox Metaverse Alpha, a virtual play-to-earn gaming world that enables users to monetize their time spent in the Metaverse. After four years in the making, the development team is finally opening up to players via a multi-week play-to-earn (P2E) Alpha event, which will kick off on November 29. When this news was announced last week, the price of its native token SAND jumped to a new all-time-high of $4.68, before dropping back down to trade at its current level of around $4.00.
Other examples include Decentraland and Axie Infinity – virtual reality platforms that are home to two of the largest Metaverse tokens by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap. Decentraland’s native token, MANA, for example, has gone up in price nearly five-fold in recent weeks, from around $0.80 at the end of October to its current price of around $3.70 (as of November 22).
Source: https://coinmarketcap.com/, Nov 22, 2021
In these virtual games, digital assets will become a means of payment, a reason to play and compete, and proof of ownership. For example, Decentraland already allows users to buy virtual land in the game. As the Metaverse grows and expands, the need for native digital tokens will only increase for the whole ecosystem to function properly.
The newly renamed Meta itself is working on its own blockchain and cryptocurrency, Diem. This is still awaiting regulatory approval, but Meta has already launched its own crypto wallet project called Novi.
In a similar way to NFTs, the Metaverse is therefore in a position to promote the mainstream adoption of digital assets. With some 3.24 billion people in the world enjoying gaming as one of their pastimes, and this number only projected to grow, a revolutionary new gaming world built on the blockchain will ensure a bright future for digital assets.
READ: NFTs are bringing the mainstream to crypto in a way Bitcoin cannot
The Metaverse also offers an exciting and innovative way to combine physical technology, such as VR headsets and other Internet of Things (IoT) objects, with blockchain technology and innovation to build an entirely new user experience.
But while these developments are ultimately good news for the digital asset industry, fintech businesses and other players in the cryptocurrency ecosystem must not sit idle waiting for the Metaverse to launch. This will be a gradual process, and there is much to learn from these innovations that can be applied to the wider digital asset sphere. After all, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have a monopoly on the Metaverse.
And in fact, the Metaverse is here already. Virtual reality game Second Life allowed players to create avatars of themselves as far back as 2003. As opportunities to invest in these games increase, this also means investors will have to become more discerning when choosing the Metaverse project they wish to back. Clever marketing doesn’t necessarily mean future success.
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DISCLAIMER: The content of this article does not constitute financial advice and is for informational purposes only. The price of digital assets can go down as well as up, and you may lose all of your capital. Investors should consult a professional advisor before making any investment decisions.