Bringing The Metaverse & NFTs Back To Earth

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

The hype never ends when it comes to cryptocurrencies. These days, the Metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have the spotlight. Like their predecessors (blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum) they carry intimidating labels and lofty promises brandished by their supporters. After all, it doesn’t get more “meta” than the Metaverse. Rather than reflexively ignoring such grandiose claims and parabolic price moves, I thought I’d explore these topics in order to assess their investment merits if any.

I admit, the Metaverse intimidated me. Whenever mentioned, I typically tuned out to the discussion that followed writing it off as more utopian “tech-bro” speak. However, a recent podcast interview (finally) inspired me to dig in and check my premises. The result is a more nuanced view of the Metaverse and NFTs that can enable it.

Metaverse: Neither Meta Nor Universe

Said simply, the Metaverse is neither “meta” (i.e. beyond) nor “verse”, as in a separate universe. It’s a shared, virtual environment like the “lands” of a video game. People log on to their computers and interact via avatars to play games, converse, and even conduct commerce online. It’s like a 3-D chatroom on steroids and very much a microcosm of the world in which we live; not something separate.

The popular game Fortnite is currently, in a sense, the largest Metaverse. To be sure, one’s actions are limited to the gameplay. However, users are finding an expanding list of activities available to them as the community grows. Other online environments are also emerging that hope to offer more ways to interact. These expanded possibilities—especially those related to commerce—are the source of the hype.

People are exploring ways to sell goods and services, advertise, socialize, and even invest in such virtual worlds. Millions of users may pass through these online environments, all with real money lining their real pockets in their real lives. This is the real commercial potential.

NFTs as Digital Commerce Enablers

NFTs have gained a lot of attention recently. They are an offshoot of cryptocurrencies and have burst onto the scene with some spectacular headlines. From art, to tweets, to virtual real estate, NFTs are facilitating the trading of digital assets in a new way.

The artist Beeple recently sold a collage of 5,000 digital images at Christie’s for $69 million. Source

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