July 25, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of July 25, 2022

This week begins with some bad news for the Metaverse. First, the video game giant Minecraft announced that it would not accept the use of NFTs and blockchain technologies on its platform, calling such technologies “exclusionary.” Second, Coinbase – the crypto platform – is facing an SEC probe into whether it improperly let Americans trade digital assets that should have been registered as securities, which could have large repercussions for other crypto platforms. Nevertheless, the sector continues its meteoric rise. The Crown Prince of Dubai just announced a massive investment into the Metaverse, and Christie’s launched a venture fund focused on Web 3. Finally, an interview with the new chair of the Metaverse Standards Forum gives us an idea of what the future of digital governance and safety might look like.

In a public statement, Minecraft rejects the use of NFTs and blockchain technologies on its platform.

  • "NFTs, however, can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our Guidelines and the spirit of Minecraft," the statement reads. 
  • Some companies have recently launched NFT implementations that are associated with Minecraft world files and skin packs. Other examples of how NFTs and blockchain could be utilized with Minecraft include creating Minecraft collectible NFTs, allowing players to earn NFTs through activities performed on a server, or earning Minecraft NFT rewards for activities outside the game. 
  • The statement continues “Each of these uses of NFTs and other blockchain technologies creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together. NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots. The speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.”

Coinbase faces SEC probe on crypto listings.

  • The company is facing a US probe into whether it improperly let Americans trade digital assets that should have been registered as securities.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s scrutiny of Coinbase has increased since the platform expanded the number of tokens in which it offers trading, said two of the people, who asked not to be named because the inquiry hasn’t been disclosed publicly. The probe by the SEC’s enforcement unit predates the agency’s investigation into an alleged insider trading scheme that led the regulator last week to sue a former Coinbase manager and two other people. 
  • The drumbeat in Washington for US regulators to do more to oversee crypto has grown louder as digital currencies have tumbled from all-time highs, erasing hundreds of billions of dollars in market value. SEC Chair Gary Gensler has homed in on trading platforms and argued that they should do more to protect retail investors.
  • As the largest US trading platform, Coinbase lets Americans trade more than 150 tokens. If those products were deemed securities, the firm – as well as other crypto platforms – could need to register as an exchange with the SEC. Coinbase shares fell $14.14 to $52.93 in New York, leaving the stock down 79% this year.

Hong Kong Positioned as the Most Crypto-ready Country in 2022.

  • While public acceptance remains key to crypto’s existence, the road to mainstream crypto adoption requires governments to set up a supporting infrastructure that complements the requirements of the technology and the people. 
  • Factors such as crypto ATM installations, pro-crypto regulations, startup culture and a fair tax regime signal a country’s readiness to adopt cryptocurrencies. Considering these factors, a Forex Suggest study revealed Hong Kong’s position as the best-prepared country for widespread cryptocurrency adoption, with a crypto-readiness score of 8.6. Despite having a bigger crypto infrastructure than the island nation, the United States and Switzerland made it to the top three with lower crypto-readiness scores of 7.7 and 7.5, respectively
  • The biggest factors considered in the study to calculate a country’s readiness were the number of crypto ATM installations proportional to the population and geographical size of the jurisdiction and the number of blockchain startups per 100,00 people.
  • Crypto taxes serve as the biggest deterrents to mainstream crypto adoption. Hong Kong, Switzerland, Panama, Portugal, Germany, Malaysia and Turkey share the top spot for the lowest crypto taxes on capital gains.

In an Interview with Forbes, Neil Trevett Provides Insights Into the New Metaverse Standards Forum.

  • Trevett is Vice President of Developer Ecosystems at NVIDIA, President of The Khronos Group, and Chair of the Metaverse Standards Forum – a coalition of companies and non-profits working on defining rules for the internet of tomorrow.
  • In the interview, Trevett discusses 1) his life and career trajectory that led to his current roles; 2) his deep interest in graphics, open standards and open standard organizations; 3) the work of his nonprofit premier 3D standards consortium, The Khronos Group; 4) the evolution leading up to the Metaverse Standards Forum, its purpose and the areas of emerging interest beyond interoperability such as ethics and governance; 5) the importance of technology nonprofit organizations; 6) Neil’s work as Vice President Developer Ecosystems at NVIDIA; and 7) recommendations for the audience as they begin to navigate the Metaverse.

What CMOs Need to Know About Web 3, the Metaverse, and Crypto.

  • The digital world is in a profound state of evolution that is both overhyped and underappreciated. Many of the enabling technologies are not well-understood by marketing leaders which is leading to mixed responses to these emerging capabilities. Is it time to jump in and redeploy marketing resources? Or should I wait while others learn lessons the hard way? 
  • Blockchain capabilities will improve security and authentication of digital assets promising individual ownership of one’s identity, information and assets leading the way to cryptocurrency, decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Improvements in 3D graphics and bandwidth speeds will yield more immersive virtual environments. 
  • Proponents of the metaverse promise new possibilities beyond gaming, including virtual spaces for brands to set up shop and interact 24/7 with AI-enabled bots that will be able to converse in multiple languages. Early marketing experiments in virtual worlds include offering branded attire for avatars (Gucci, Prada and Adidas), virtual restaurants (Wendy’s and Chipotle) and virtual places (Playboy Mansion and Tony Hawk Skate Park). 

The Dark Side of the Metaverse and How to Fight it – Cointelegraph Interview

  • Have you ever thought about how crime will be policed in the metaverse? How will we stop bad actors from ruining the next great leap in human ingenuity? Cointelegraph’s editor-in-chief Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr pondered these questions and more in an exclusive interview with Next Earth’s David Taylor and ActiveFence’s Tomer Poran.
  • When asked about how we should tackle the problem of bad actors within the context of the metaverse, Poran opined: "Don't try to fix fraudsters or Nazis or terrorists. They will remain. They existed before the internet and they'll exist after." 
  • However, that doesn’t mean the problem can’t be addressed. "There is one aspect that we as platform providers can do, which is education,” said Taylor. “And just constant education. It will never be enough."

How Entertainment Brands Can Leverage the Metaverse to Reach New Audiences.

  • Entertainment brands have also always been at the forefront of innovation, continually pushing the boundaries for how consumers discover, and eventually adopt, new forms of technology.
  • The idea of the metaverse—or the greater alignment of physical and digital worlds—is the latest technology rage, and it should come as no surprise that entertainment brands are among the first to jump into the deep end. They are mostly doing so in 4 key ways: immersive storytelling (Verizon, for example, partnered with Disney, Google and Snap to create AR lenses that enabled fans to interact with iconic Avengers), character and celebrity integrations (Verizon used volumetric capture technology to allow fans to interact with athletes in 3-D as they shared a breakdown of their signature move), live events (e.g. the collaboration of Epic Games and BTS, which led to the debut of a music video on Fortnite), and gamification.

The Crown Prince of Dubai Says he Has a "Metaverse Strategy."

  • This week, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a new "metaverse strategy" that he says will create 40,000 new virtual jobs and add $4 billion to the city’s GDP in five years.
  • "The strategy emphasises fostering talent and investing in future capabilities by providing the necessary support in metaverse education aimed at developers, content creators and users of digital platforms in the metaverse community," the United Arab Emirates' official news agency, WAM, wrote in a statement.
  • Details on how the strategy will be carried out are scant, but the pillars of the plan include fostering "metaverse innovation and economic contribution," cultivating metaverse talent, and developing metaverse use cases and applications within the Dubai government, according to Sheikh Hamdan.

Pax.world Announces its First-ever Public Land Sale, Ahead of the Virtual World's Public Launch Scheduled for September 2022.

  • The anticipated market launch, which follows its landmark private and seed round of $5.8M, is the first time the public can access and purchase land. Anyone with an OpenSea account can buy land as an NFT and access it before pax.world's grand opening in September.
  • Pax.world's market launch offers early adopters the chance to buy land for a limited time. It will enable exclusive access to pax.world's open metaverse platform, where users create realistic 3D avatars and build on their land using a cutting-edge toolbox, accessible to anyone with internet connection via browser, on any device.
  • Pax.world's early partnership initiatives include a series of collaborations with world-renowned architects, the first of which to be announced was Grimshaw Architects, to create gigantic and beautiful communal trade, commerce, cultural and social hubs known as 'Metaserai' - inspired by the ancient roadside trade-route inns 'Caravanserai'.

Christie’s Launches Venture Fund.

  • Christie’s announces the launch of Christie’s Ventures, a new investment fund that will provide financial resources and expert support to Emerging Technology and FinTech companies creating solutions with art market relevancy. Christie’s Ventures will work alongside these portfolio companies to help accelerate their progress, simultaneously advancing Christie’s activities in the presentation, education, and sales of Fine Art and Luxury Goods.
  • Christie’s Ventures will start by exploring three broad categories: Web3.0 innovation, art related financial products and solutions and technologies that enable seamless consumption of art.

Their first portfolio company sits perfectly on this spectrum: LayerZero Labs, a cross-chain interoperability company with a strong vision and business model within a broad addressable market. The company reduces friction in a client’s ability to move assets between blockchains.

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