May 9, 2023

Metaverse Highlights: Week of May 9, 2023

This week’s developments match a series of broader trends. First, we are seeing more (and faster) adoption of metaverse and web3 technologies in the developing world. The government of Nigeria, which is already one of the world’s friendliest nations when it comes to cryptocurrencies, has just approved a national blockchain policy. According to a recent report, 63% of corporate entities in India have plans to integrate metaverse as part of their organizational processes. And in China, tech giant Alibaba has built a launchpad for brands to release metaverse experiences, making it easier for brands to get involved in web3. 

Second, far from replacing the metaverse or crypto as a new source of hype, AI is boosting the adoption and potential of other technologies. A lot of crypto projects were always simultaneously AI projects; as a result, what looks like a strategic pivot from crypto to AI turns out to be just a shift in emphasis. 

Third, people are thinking more seriously about the long-term economic and social implications of new technologies. For instance, the World Economic Forum recently released an article on inclusivity in the metaverse. We also highlight the reflection of a sports executive on the transformative potential of digital twins for data-gathering. These pieces, and others like them, signal more willingness to reflect on  — and therefore acknowledge the importance of  — the role that web3 and the metaverse should play for society at large.


The bottom line: The government of Nigeria — one of the world’s most curious nations about cryptocurrencies — has approved a national blockchain policy during its meeting on May 3, 2023. The approval was in response to a memo presented by Isa Ali Ibrahim, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. The FMCDE developed the national blockchain policy through stakeholder consultations in both the public and private sectors.

The bottom line: According to a PwC India report titled “Our Take – Embracing the Metaverse,” 63% of corporate entities in India have plans to integrate the metaverse as part of their organizational processes. The report highlighted that nearly 25% of respondents are keen on transferring several processes to the metaverse before the end of the year. In comparison, 47% of surveyed firms say that the transition would most likely occur over the next few years.

The bottom line: Chinese tech giant Alibaba has built a launchpad for brands to release metaverse experiences built on the Avalanche blockchain. Called Cloudverse, the launchpad will use Avalanche’s technology and Alibaba’s Cloud division for computing and storage. The initiative aims to make it easier for brands to get involved in web3 and expand their customer experience.

The bottom line: Sotheby’s Metaverse NFT marketplace is getting an upgrade. The marketplace will now expand to include not just primary market offerings but also secondary sales, through which collectors can sell directly to each other. “The first phase of our launch has successfully proven that our traditional and digitally native collectors alike could coalesce around Sotheby’s to form a new community,” said Sebastian Fahey, executive lead for Sotheby’s Metaverse.

The bottom line: New AI-based products and technologies are constantly appearing, and their impact will only grow from here, including in the world of finance. You might expect a chatbot to reply when contacting your bank online. But AI’s impact on money and investing is much broader: AI is used by banks to track spending and automatically alert people when they spend or reach a specific level in their account. They may also track whether the spending is typical, and alert users to possible instances of fraud.

The bottom line: Digital Twin technology's possibilities are endless, and its benefits are substantial. One of the key advantages is that it provides real-time insights into an athlete’s performance. By analyzing data from sensors and other sources, Digital Twin technology can provide detailed information on an athlete’s movements, technique, and physical condition. Digital Twin technology can also be used to simulate different scenarios and strategies.

The bottom line: It’s tempting to buy into this narrative that the AI hype cycle has replaced the effort to make a crypto-powered web3 and the metaverse the next big thing. But that ignores one very important notion: A lot of crypto projects were always simultaneously AI projects. The AI part got lost amid the crypto bubble, but it was always there. As a result, what looks like a strategic pivot from crypto to AI turns out to be just a shift in emphasis.

The bottom line: Representation is key for people's identities and the representation of others in virtual spaces. For instance, one in five daily active users of Roblox updates their avatar on any given day. Even in a world where one can have anything they desire and let their imagination run wild, 87% of users have their in-real-life identity match their online identity. This emphasizes the dual importance of reality and imagination, accuracy and fantasy.

The bottom line: Last week, new research highlighted how 47% of UK consumers believe Metaverse platforms will be widely adopted in the next ten years. In the KPMG UK study, UK consumers appeared to have split opinions regarding metaverse services. Questioned individuals had split confidence towards metaverse growth and usage forecasts. Thirty-seven percent of individuals questioned were optimistic towards the future of the metaverse, 31 percent had negative forecasts, and 32 percent didn’t know enough to form an opinion.

The bottom line: Binance restarted withdrawals of Bitcoin after citing congestion on the token’s blockchain for two halts in less than 12 hours, suspensions that weighed on cryptocurrency markets. The company said higher fees have been applied to pending transactions so they get picked up by Bitcoin miners — the computer rigs that operate the network.

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