We live in times of continuous technological innovations which grow quickly. These innovations are usually complementing each other, allowing a higher growth and a better integration in society. The last of these synergies is the relation between the cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, which is expected to be massively used in the future. In this post we will see how this relation looks like, and if they are indeed complementary.
What is the metaverse?
First of all, we can define the metaverse as a virtual platform where the users can interact with the environment through their avatars. This allows to eliminate the physical barriers of the real world, thanks to the three basic properties:
- Interactivity – every user must be able to influence the environment and its objects. This includes the possibility to communicate with other users. In fact, the different metaverses are not exclusive for the user. The whole community shares the environment simultaneously among every user.
- Incorporeity – once we access the virtual environment, the physical barriers become nonexistent. Our presence in the platform is possible thanks to the avatars which represent us.
- Persistence – these environments do not disappear when we disconnect from them. In fact, they have continuity over time in their existence. This is a way to become even more realistic and make easier the persistence of the users over time.
What use cases does the metaverse have?
Now that we have a clear idea of what the metaverse is, we can analyze what the main use cases are. The whole list for all the industries with any implications would be enormous, but we can choose some of the with a direct impact. In fact, for these industries we already have some examples of companies clear stakes on the metaverse, such as Fornite or Decentraland.
In the industry of the entertainment, the metaverse offers the possibility to play games which go far beyond from just virtual reality. In fact, the underlying idea is to become real participants of the game, not just the owners of the joystick. This would imply to gesticulate and communicate with other users, or even being able to feel cold within the videogame, which would boost the sensation of realism.
In this sense, there are several companies working to increase the interaction between the metaverse and the entertainment industry. We have seen even some concerts in the metaverse where you can go in real time through your avatar. The success of these concerts was not always the same but there is a lot of improvement margin.
To sum up, the metaverse allows to minimize the frontier between the real world and the virtual platforms. There are great projects working on it, and the virtual reality games are just the tip of the iceberg. Even those games focused on the physical activity of the users could take profit of the metaverse. Obviously, this is just and idea in a very early stage, but it give us a clue about the way where the industry is moving through.
Medicine and healthcare
At first sight this should not be the industry where the metaverse may be a high impact. However, the truth is that the number of use cases for medicine and healthcare have been growing constantly. Let’s think about places in which we can recreate certain situations for the patients, or even experiment with the effects of any treatment before it is applied. For the specialists, the metaverse would allow a much more complete visualization of what occurs before, at and after any medical intervention.
Several of the medical applications of the metaverse would be also applicable for other industries. Some examples would be the training for any professional before he/she enters in a ICU or the assistance to medical congresses. The metaverse would be helpful even as a complement to some virtual reality tools which are already in place for certain procedures.
The creation of virtual environments for the workplace is another of the most popular use cases for the metaverse. The preference for the remote working in the last years has given a great push to this. The possibility to arrange meetings with your workmates from your home is already a reality. Even the job interviews could be managed through this environment. Moreover, the metaverse would allow costs savings for both sides.
However, it is important to have in mind that the surveillance from the company over the employees would be higher. This could lead to a non desirable impact, so the global conventions for the workplace should be adjusted.
The tourism could be also another industry with great benefit from the metaverse. There are several sources of revenues from something such as the virtual tourism. In this category we may find the virtual tours on the destination accommodation, the assistance to exhibitions and fairs, or even the possibility to preview your vacations. The booking system could be also reinforced. If the customers can see a preview of their vacations, they will be more convinced, which will imply a higher level of satisfaction.
On the other side, we may also see a transformation in the customer support, which is so important in the industry. Therefore, there would be a positive impact in all the brands supporting this way of helping their customers.
The commerce would be the last of the industries which may take huge profits from the metaverse. The interaction of the avatars may allow the possibility of trying the clothes in the metaverse. The experience of digital shopping would be totally different from the current one. Additionally, we would be able to talk to the employees or even walk around the store as if we were physically there.
For this to be possible, a much larger lever of customization of the metaverses is necessary, as well as the existent avatars. However, the industry is working on this direction, including the biggest players such as Microsoft, Apple or Meta. This will reinforce the digital commerce as well as the customer experience, which may imply a lower number of returns. If this is the scenario we expect in the future, what is the relation between the metaverse and the cryptocurrencies?
First of all, it is important to know that the conception of the metaverse and the cryptocurrencies was absolutely independent. The metaverse was born as an upgrade of the virtual environments, with a higher degree of realism. On the other side, the cryptocurrencies were born as a 100% digital alternative to the traditional fiat money. Their goal is to make easier and cheaper the traditional transactions. However, the digital conception of both innovations is something very interesting for the future.
So, if I have a virtual environment (which replicates the physical world), and I also have a virtual currency (which works similarly to the fiat money), would not be the logic thing to use them together? Let’s see two examples: both “The Sandbox” and “Decentraland“, which are two of the most popular blockchain based games, work with cryptocurrencies. To be precise, they work with the tokens they issue, which are SAND and MANA respectively.
Use cases of SAND and MANA
Both SAND and MANA are tokens issued, guaranteed and controlled by the company who owns the videogames. As both videogames are built using blockchain technology, the interaction with the tokens is quite easy. Every time the user wants to do any transaction with any object of these metaverses, he/she must pay with the appropriate token. The tokens are purchased previously, in exchange for real money or even another cryptocurrency. Every metaverse has its own token, so the balance of the user is exclusive for that metaverse.
These metaverses also offer the possibility to attend concerts, events, etc. The assistance to these events is not for free, of course. The user must pay with the corresponding token. What we finally have in a metaverse is an environment very similar to the real world. The use of a native token allows a much faster register of any transaction, because it avoids banks, waiting times, transfer costs, etc.
Decentralization in the metaverse
We already know that the decentralization is one of the main elements of the pure cryptocurrencies to become the new payment methods. Most of the metaverses are currently working in a decentralized way. This way, the users have absolute control of their actions depending on the tokens they own. If we add a high level of interoperability among the different metaverses, we obtain a very interesting scenario. The goal is that one single user becomes able to interact actively in different metaverses, in a fast and efficient way.
Additionally, we must have in mind that the metaverse is a digital environment which replicates the physical world. Therefore, it seems that a native digital currency as would be the case for the cryptocurrencies is the ideal payment method for these environments. We should not forget that one of the main use cases for the metaverse is the commerce (real state, art pieces, etc.). In order to carry out these transactions, we need an appropriate money, and the cryptocurrencies fit perfectly.
We are talking about a 100% digital currency which is perfectly compatible in different environments. Moreover, thanks to their digital conception, there should be no problem in exchanging them for fiat money.
Everything said, it seems clear that the growth of the metaverse could serve also to impulse the cryptocurrencies. The potential of the metaverse is still to be defined, but we have already seen an advance. Some activities such as the attendance to concerts will be available remotely, with a high degree of realism. This is already a huge achievement for this technology.
Additionally, the interaction with other users is also something that could challenge the current state of the industry. Several companies are investing lots of money into this, although it is not clear if they will get that in return.
Not all the industries will use the metaverse, and not all the metaverses will need a token for their services. Moreover, it is possible that a public metaverse can be deployed in the future. In this case, a CBDC would make much more sense than any cryptocurrency. However, there is no doubt about the potential push that the cryptocurrencies can apply to the metaverse. We can expect a parallel growth of both innovations in the future.