The metaverse, if you haven’t heard much detail of it yet… you’re about to.
So far, its story has been relatively basic. Things like virtual and augmented reality are used to create immersive games, virtual concerts and so on, letting people experience things kind of as they do in real life, but in a virtual space.
Fortnite is a centralised part of the metaverse, and it’s seen concerts from people like Ariana Grande. But by way of potential, there’s a lot more to the metaverse than these examples – and this includes a lot of room for crypto.
People are already comparing it to how, in the early 2000s, we knew there was a lot more to the web than text files, only we didn’t have access to it. Hard to imagine now but that meant that not everyone really cared or thought the internet would become a long-term, everyday “thing”. Imagine.
Now, though, we’re starting to get glimpses into just how huge the metaverse could be with, unsurprisingly, companies like Facebook making a few more people pay attention. In their case, they’ve even rebranded as “Meta”, an on-the-nose heralding of their efforts to pivot from a social media company to a metaverse company. As Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has put it: “A lot of this will be mainstream in the next five to 10 years.”
So what does the metaverse involve?
Well, as noted above, it’s quite a broad spectrum of things. The main bits at the moment include virtual reality for games, concerts and the likes.
But the metaverse is also becoming a social space and a digital economy. Currently, you can meet people on, for example, Decentraland, and your avatar might be wearing a non-default outfit that you’ve bought using the platform’s currency, called Decentraland (MANA), which is a cryptocurrency. Because who doesn’t like to look fresh, even online?
You can buy more than outfits, though. There are also cars, property, land, furniture, art. Basically anything and everything that you can get in real life. You can then chat with others there, tune into a concert or play games.
In the future, there’s hope that people will be able to hop from one platform to another with their assets and avatar. This would mean that you could go onto one platform and buy a Burberry shirt, and then take your avatar in the new drip to a concert somewhere else, or just a hangout space on another metaverse.
You could also invite people to hang at your metaverse house, where you can display your NFT collection on the walls. Show-off.
Where does crypto come into all of this?
Metaverse sort of crosses between blockchain, VR/AR and Web 3.0 (we currently use Web 2.0).
We’ll not get into the other elements here in big detail, but blockchain technology is a large part of the metaverse, being a space where you create objects and even worlds (Decentraland was built using Ethereum). On Decentraland, people can own and develop their own land (by buying land tokens, which are effectively NFTs).
It’s all decentralised, meaning nobody (for better or for worse) can regulate how people behave. There are games, events, social spaces and more on there.
So why does this mean crypto coins will go up in value?
Well, there’s never a guarantee, of course. But if more and more people are getting into the metaverse, then more people will end up needing crypto, and therefore the value will go up. Similarly, given a lot of these worlds and products are built on blockchains, blockchains like Ethereum and Solana will be used more and become more valuable, if this kicks off.
Does it mean bitcoin is going to boom?
Not really. The metaverse has crypto blockchains and platforms with their own coins and tokens. This doesn’t make the likes of bitcoin redundant, but that coin isn’t used, and its blockchain doesn’t have features that allow it to get involved in the metaverse. Ethereum is being used the most.
Which coins are we looking at?
To invest in metaverse crypto, you want to be looking at the native coins and tokens of some metaverse worlds. The Sandbox, Decentraland, Avalanche and Elrond are among the most popular metaverse platforms, and their native coins have all seen huge gains in recent months.
At time of writing, Decentraland (MANA) is worth £2.57 a coin, whereas it was just 55p two months ago (its current all-time high is £4.44). The Sandbox (SAND) is up over 10,000 per cent this year. Avalanche (AVAX) is up nearly 2,500 pe cent across the year. Elrond (EGLD) is up nearly 1500 per cent.
They’re all pretty big gains, and many see them to be just the beginning – though, as ever, there’s always a risk.
So how do we buy?
Some of these coins are on your standard exchanges, like Coinbase and Crypto.com. But others will require you to actually enter the metaverse itself and buy coins, which you’ll hold on a crypto wallet that you sync to your account on the metaverse platform.
What are the risks?
In terms of making money, you’re basically betting on which metaverse platforms become popular.
While the four mentioned are relatively safe bets, you never know what’s around the corner in crypto. Decentraland had a 25 per cent dip in recent weeks, for example. That’s not to say it won’t recover – some people are very bullish on the coin, with price prediction videos saying it could go up by thousands of per cent.
Plus, there are centralised metaverses like Minecraft that people could use instead, along with whatever Zuckerberg is cooking up at Meta. That could completely throw a load of these smaller operations out of the water.
As always, do your own research before backing a cryptocurrency.