September 12, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of September 12, 2022

This week, we highlight a shift in the Metaverse sector. After the crypto crash of the first semester of 2022, the countless scams, and the dramatic decrease of NFT transactions on Open Sea, we have passed the infancy phase of the ecosystem. We are now in an environment with much more maturity, with meaningful projects on the horizon, and we have gotten rid of many non-sense NFT projects devoid of purpose and vision. Regulators are moving towards crypto regulations, and massive players such as Starbucks launch slow but rigorous forays into the Metaverse.

  • At the heart of all deception is emotional manipulation. Virtual reality environments, such as Facebook’s (now Meta’s) metaverse, will enable psychological and emotional manipulation of its users at a level unimaginable in today’s media.
  • The very same features that make virtual reality environments so attractive as communication environments — the sense that you’ve teleported into a synthetic world — can also harm their users. When it comes to emotional manipulation, two features of the metaverse are particularly important — presence and embodiment.
  • “Presence” means that people feel they are communicating with one another directly without any type of computer interface. “Embodiment” means that the user has the feeling that their avatar or virtual body is their actual body.

Nation's Restaurant News:
Starbucks Finally Enters The Metaverse

  • On Monday, the Seattle-based coffee giant announced the creation of Starbucks Odyssey: a Web3 experience launching in late 2022 where Starbucks Rewards members can buy and trade collectible limited-edition NFTs to unlock new rewards benefits and complete interactive activities to earn the NFT digital badges known as “journey stamps.”
  • With this announcement, Starbucks joins its other colleagues that have also experimented with interactive NFT trading and games in the metaverse, including Chipotle, Wendy’s and most recently: Taco Bell.
  • Starbucks is following the recent metaverse trend of lowering the barrier to entry for those without crypto know-how: the Starbucks Odyssey experience will not require users to use an Oculus Quest 2 (or any other special equipment) and it can be entered through the Starbucks Rewards app. Users also don’t need to have a crypto wallet to purchase the collectible NFTs.

  • An army of computer programmers scattered across the globe is set to attempt one of the biggest software upgrades the crypto sector has ever seen this week to reduce its environmentally unfriendly energy consumption.
  • Developers have spent years working on a more energy-efficient version of the Ethereum blockchain, a digital ledger that underpins a multibillion-dollar ecosystem of cryptocurrencies, digital tokens (NFTs), games and apps.
  • Ethereum, the second most important blockchain after Bitcoin, burns through more power each year than New Zealand. Experts say the changeover, expected to take place between Tuesday and Thursday, would slash energy consumption by more than 99 percent.

  • Treasury’s reports will highlight the economic danger of cryptocurrencies in several key areas, including the fraud risks they pose for investors, two people familiar with the matter said. 
  • Treasury’s assessments conclude that cryptocurrencies do not yet pose a stability risk to the broader financial system — but that the situation could change rapidly.
  • One of the reports will focus in particular on the financial hazards posed by stablecoins, a form of cryptocurrency that is in theory pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar. 
  • Treasury last fall called on Congress to give banking regulators new authority to police those digital tokens, but lawmakers have yet to reach agreement on how to do so. Meanwhile, the collapse of a $60 billion stablecoin project called Terra this spring helped accelerate a broader crypto market downturn that’s ongoing.

  • Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS, announced Friday a partnership with The Sandbox, a virtual world where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • The aim of the partnership is “to create DBS Better World, an interactive metaverse experience showcasing the importance of building a better, more sustainable world, and inviting others to come alongside.”
  • DBS will acquire a 3×3 plot of LAND — a unit of virtual real estate in The Sandbox metaverse — which will be developed with immersive elements.
  • “The metaverse presents exciting opportunities to redefine how we live, work and engage with each other,” said Sebastian Paredes, CEO of DBS Hong Kong. “We have been getting our feet wet in this space, and our very own young technologists have been given the freedom to develop experimental concepts in the metaverse.”

  • Flow recently announced a groundbreaking new initiative with Ticketmaster. Via the Flow blockchain, all Ticketmaster event organizers can now link NFTs with each attendee’s ticket.
  • The NFTs are positioned to offer ticket-owning event attendees richer experiences. Primarily, the linked NFTs hope to offer Ticketmaster eventgoers Web3 analogs to the IRL events, where they receive the NFTs.
  • Recipients of linked NFTs may gain access to “VIP experiences,” according to Flow. Otherwise, the NFTs can simply serve as blockchain memorabilia for events. The execution of each NFT ticket tie-in is up to the event organizer.

  • Six U.S. senators have demanded answers from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about how his company is handling cryptocurrency scams on its social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. 
  • “We are concerned that Meta provides a breeding ground for cryptocurrency fraud that causes significant harm to consumers,” the lawmakers wrote.
  • The lawmakers asked Zuckerberg seven questions concerning Meta’s current policies pertaining to cryptocurrency scams. They request that the Meta CEO responds with detailed information by Oct. 24.

  • To commemorate the launch of the third season of Love, Death + Robots, Netflix released an NFT collection on OpenSea.
  • The collection featured corresponding NFTs depicting scenes from the season’s nine episodes.
  • Netflix also conducted a virtual and IRL scavenger hunt for these NFTs, leaving QR codes across various IRL billboards and on social media for fans of the show to find.
  • Instead of amassing raw funds from the sale of this collection, Netflix gleaned some truly unique engagement data from the Love, Death + Robots NFT bonanza. Through this initiative, Netflix was able to fashion a framework that just might be the future of TV ratings.

  • Taxing NFTs is complicated by uncertainty over where they are “sourced.” An NFT sale is typically conducted through a transfer of the asset to a digital wallet, not a physical address. Many digital marketplaces exist and some states currently require them to collect a sales tax, but compliance has been inconsistent. If a marketplace fails to collect the tax, the buyer may be liable for it.
  • “In the past several years, states have seen the prices for NFTs soar,” says the New York lawyer Amelia K. Brankov. All that money attracts revenue officials’ interest, and “some states are focusing in on the taxability of NFT sales”.
  • In Washington, the sales tax rate is 6.5%, but that may be the only thing that is clear-cut about this process.

  • The future for crypto remains very bright. That’s according to the CEO of Ledger, Pascal Gauthier who sat down for a tête-à-tête with Cointelegraph in his home country, France. 
  • Gauthier, who enters his eighth year working at Ledger, explained that the recent downward price action in Bitcoin has not brought interest in crypto to a standstill: “Bitcoin might be down, but people are buying NFTs and you know, they're participating in communities.”
  • In response to the crypto contagion, in which countless exchanges experienced difficulty managing—or went as far as freezing–customers’ funds, Gauthier told Cointelegraph that Ledger’s sales are “Way up.” Gauthier lamented that the increase in sales is bittersweet as people have to learn “The hard way.”

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