Is Metaverse the next big investment thing?

By November 21, 2021Metaverse
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Is Metaverse the next big investment thing?

Earlier I've used this space to keep updating about the emerging technologies and how they've transformed investing. I've narrated about the advent of crypto and how the various projects have begun to consume this investing arena. An earlier dedicated article on NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) was elaborated to throw a bird's eye view on this evolving medium of creating, ascertaining and transferring value. A kind of an extension, but with different tangents is the world of metaverse, would be detailed now.

The announcement of facebook (fb) metamorphosis to 'meta' has hogged more limelight and attention to this emerging field. Though, fb has been investing in related technologies both hardware and software, the sudden proclamation has brought metaverse to mainstream.

Metaverse, was initially coined by Neal Stephenson's science fiction, Snow Crash in 1992. He described about the various avatars (human's virtual profile) interact with each other and software agents (an intermediary on behalf) in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world. He considers this technology as a successor to the internet.

The current metaverse is still at nascent stages as we migrate from the web 2.0 to web 3.0. Web 2.0 is the current usage of internet and doesn't refer to any shift in the technology or upgrade, but the way it's used. The current state of web (2.0) has user-generated content and usability for end-users compared to the earlier version (web 1.0), the initial days when the users accessed the available data that was put on the internet. While the web 3.0 is also considered as the decentralize web which would be utilizing the new and developing technologies like blockchain, the underlying tech for the distributed (decentralized) ledger technology.

The metaverse is still being seen or experienced from the realm of web 2.0 but it's a hypothesized scenario which supports the 3-D tech along with the augmented and virtual reality (A/VR) hardware. It's for now limited to some chatrooms and a few gaming solutions. The increasing 'screetime' (time spent viewing on web/mobile/internet) across the globe has provided the momentum for these shifts. The online profile or avatars has been in vogue for a while but the user interactions due to the availability of newer technologies and devices makes a strong case for its propagation.

The combination of crypto tokens (an index attributed to value which could be easily fungible), the NFT, blockchain, AR and VR sets has changed the interface of the gaming industry. From those days of using consoles to playing with strangers over internet now the new trend is to collaborate (multi-player) across the internet to create and trade virtual space or objects. With the advent of NFT, the virtual space ownership has become seamless while protecting the Intellectual Property rights over them. These spaces would later be used by marketers to advertise and thus generate revenues.

The in-game ads are again not a new phenomenon, but it was earlier owned by the game developers and used to display the ads that generated revenue to the developers. Now, with the decentralization, the ownership or creation of space within a game is possible and the monetization benefits thus generated would reach the owner of that space (user) and not the game developer as such.

South Korea is in news last week, with the embrace and integration of metaverse into their daily lives. Two retailers in the country have recently introduced AI (Artificial Intelligence) and metaverse elements to shoppers to enhance their shopping experience. GS Shop introduced home shopping via the metaverse by showing the inner working of a food production facility, aimed to reassure the customers of the quality of the facility and safety of the food. It scans the physical facility with 3D representations, customers could use the AR devices to tour the facility in the virtual world, to see the conditions under which their food was being produced.

Lotte Shopping introduced Lucy, a virtual model to help promote the brand's products and has its own avatar on social media. The Seoul City govt. has announced that it would build its metaverse platform by 2023, where residents can file civil petitions. Korean military announced that it would phase-in metaverse application to soldiers' training programs by the 2030's. It might seem absurd but that's how much of the marketing has emerged in the past few decades. Initially, ads were placed physically and then we'd witnessed the Teleshopping; now possibly to A/VR.

The buzz of this embrace to the new tech has enabled for new launches of ETF (Exchanged Traded Fund) in Korea addressing the stocks of Metaverse beneficial ecosystem. Investors looking to make gain of the initial euphoria could spare a thought on the local regulations and also limit the exposure that's part of the 'sin' money, a portion of investible surplus that's put aside to take such wagers.

(The author is a

co-founder of 'Wealocity', a wealth management firm

and can be reached at knk@wealocity.com)

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