To the metaverse and beyond.
There’s a growing buzz about the fact we’re entering the age of the ‘metaverse’ –even more so since Mark Zuckerberg got interested in the term in June this year. He was quoted as saying that ‘Facebook would strive to build a maximalist interconnected set of experiences straight out of sci-fi’. It sounds as if he is re-envisioning the future development of his empire as ‘The Metaverse’.
The term ‘metaverse’ was coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his sci-fi novel Snow Crash, set in a dystopian world after a global economic collapse (been there, seen that!). Intriguingly, in Stephenson’s vision the US dollar has been trashed and global finance depended upon electronic currency, all payments made through encrypted online transactions by anarchic corporations.
Fast forward around 30 years and more than one sovereign government is predicting that the general adoption of cryptocurrencies will lead to anarchy. Then again, we have become so used to one year’s science fiction becoming the next year’s fact, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. So, the question how will crypto be part of the metaverse?
To my mind the two things are interdependent – one requires the other. Facebook may build a series of interconnected virtual pleasure palaces, but somebody needs to pick up the tab, and whoever buys a ticket to the ball will, without doubt, have to pay digitally. Big brands are already getting involved; for example Gucci are already looking at immersive multimedia experiences for privileged customers, called the Gucci Garden. There will also be ‘pay and play’ options.
At one level this sounds a bit like science fantasy. Then again as Kevin Costner found out in Field of Dreams ‘if you build it, they will come’. Mark Zuckerberg has been pretty good at delivering on the expectations he creates, so who am I to doubt him? Facebook being part of the crypto ecosystem cannot be underestimated; it’s the 6th largest business in the world and is larger than the GDP of most countries!
So what does the metaverse mean to you and me? To a certain extent that depends on who we are. If you slot into the Ultra High Net Worth bracket and can afford the ticket price, it’s already starting to be a space you can frolic in. The feeding frenzy at online auctions for NFT based works of art is just one example of the metaverse in action.
Another, albeit a small baby step at the moment, is the recent adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender by El Salvador. In years to come this may well be seen as the first nail in the coffin of the US dollar as Stephenson predicted. As more countries follow suit, the more the financial metaverse will become a truly shared space.
As for mere mortals, we will have to wait longer to get our ‘Metaverse Passports’. But, as with all technological and digital transformation, our time will come. And don’t expect there to be only one metaverse. There will be the metaverse of culture and the creative arts, the metaverse of education, the metaverse of sports and entertainment – who knows, a metaverse or metaverses?
But here’s the thing. The impending explosion of any or all metaverses, whether driven by Facebook or other digital giants, is good news for the Dacxi community. However it manifests, whatever it becomes, the future of metaversal transactions, will be played out using global digital currencies – cryptocurrencies.
Let me leave you with a philosophical thought. Somewhere at the backend of the 1400’s the Dutch philosopher Erasmus said: ‘in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King’. The vast majority of people worldwide are still blind to crypto – keep your eyes on the crypto prize and tell your friends!