Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week?
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Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week?

11 months ago

CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the latest happenings in the metaverse — from Meta's launch of its metaverse app in North America, to Croatia betting big on the future of metaverses.

Weekly Wrap: What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week?

Daftar Isi

Ah, the metaverse. 

Unless you were living under a proverbial rock, you would probably have heard of this term for the umpteenth time this year. In fact, the term "Meta" came in 10th in Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2021 — not surprising given that one of the biggest tech companies in the world announced that it's now called Meta. 
But what exactly is the metaverse? Is there more to digital avatars wearing digital luxury brands on the metaverse, as they party in the (virtual, obviously) LA mansion of American rapper Snoop Dogg?

Would you live and work in the metaverse?

Meta is defined as “occurring later than or in succession to” or “situated behind or beyond." So if we were to define what the metaverse is — it is the universe that "goes beyond all that is visible and known to exist."
As we venture beyond the current paradigm, CoinMarketCap Alexandria is here to cover the exciting developments and latest news to help you navigate the metaverse. Let's dive in.

Join us in showcasing the cryptocurrency revolution, one newsletter at a time. Subscribe now to get daily news and market updates right to your inbox, along with our millions of other subscribers (that’s right, millions love us!) — what are you waiting for?

What's Happening in the Metaverse This Week?

Global brands like Facebook, Nike and Epic Games are betting big on the metaverse space. Billionaire and Microsoft founder Bill Gates believes physical office meetings may soon become a thing of the past.

Meta Launches Horizon Worlds App in the U.S. and Canada

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is opening the gates to its virtual reality world of avatars to adults in selected regions. The social media giant announced on Thursday that anyone 18 and older in the U.S. and Canada can now access its Horizon Worlds VR platform.

The announcement marks Meta’s first major foray into the metaverse space following its rebranding in October. Back then, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers.”

Horizon Worlds has been in testing since last year, available to a limited number of Oculus VR users. Following the Thursday announcement, users will no longer need an invite to explore the virtual reality platform. Users with the Facebook Oculus VR headsets can create a legless avatar to explore an animated virtual world, play games, and interact with other users. And unlike instant messaging, VR provides a more immersive experience.

While you may be tempted to assume that Facebook is just jumping on the metaverse train, the company has actually been in the space since 2014 when it acquired Oculus for $2 billion. However, the company struggled to gain traction beyond the niche market.

In July, Zuckerberg announced the formation of a team to work on the metaverse, and in October, Facebook’s third-quarter earnings result revealed that the Reality Labs hardware division will have its own reporting segment by the fourth quarter. Still in October, Facebook announced that it would spend about $10 billion developing metaverse-related technologies.

Office Meetings May Become Obsolete in the Next “Two or Three Years,” According to Bill Gates

It is a known fact that the global COVID-19 pandemic changed our mindsets about productivity and presence in the workplace. Although the world is slowly returning to pre-COVID times, office meetings will happen on the metaverse within the next three years, according to Bill Gates.

In his famous “Year in Review” annual collection of reflections and predictions for the years to come, the billionaire Microsoft founder sees companies heavily relying on virtual experiences for meetings. He wrote:

“Within the next two or three years, I predict most virtual meetings will move from 2D camera image grids—which I call the Hollywood Squares model, although I know that probably dates me—to the metaverse, a 3D space with digital avatars [...] “We’re approaching a threshold where the technology begins to truly replicate the experience of being together in the office.”

The 2D image grids being described by Gates is what is currently being offered by most video conferencing platforms, like Microsoft’s Team and Zoom. However, in the metaverse, people will be able to use 3D avatars to attend meetings in virtual spaces and other destinations, as well as be able to interact with the avatars of co-workers.

“The idea is that you will eventually use your avatar to meet with people in a virtual space that replicates the feeling of being in an actual room with them.”

Gates notes that COVID-19 has already “revolutionized” the workplace, with more companies rolling out flexible options that allow employees to work remotely. He asserts that these changes will become more prevalent in the years to come, and as remote working continues to grow, it will attract more people into the metaverse. Gates further revealed that Microsoft is working on integrating 3D avatars and other elements of the metaverse to Teams.

One of South Korea’s Largest Conglomerates Pivoting Towards the Metaverse

SK Group, one of the biggest and oldest conglomerates in South Korea, is gearing up to jump into the metaverse train.

The investment arm of the company, SK Group Co., is looking to bring a metaverse presence to every portfolio company. Managing Director Huh Seok-joon also said that customers will soon be able to use digital assets for shopping and streaming media within the metaverse. He said during an interview that:

“Our business needs to evolve into the metaverse. Our new interface between customers will be shifting from mobile phones to metaverse and coins will be used as new currencies on our platforms.”

Croatia’s Former President Pledges Support to Metaverse World

Big corporations are not the only ones betting big on the metaverse. It appears governments are also interested in exploring the technology.

Metaverse World, a fintech enterprise dedicated to the development of Metaverse technologies, application experience, and equipment, has received strong backing from the Croatian government for its launch.

The initiative was jointly established by notable financial, insurance, and technology companies and blockchain leaders. It aims to build a decentralized Metaverse Digital Citizen Platform based on blockchain technology. Simply put, every digital citizen will have a unique non-fungible token that will serve as a pass into the rising virtual, augmented, and mixed reality VR/AR/MR) communications platform.

Metaverse World is headquartered at the Tito Institute of Political Sciences.

The latest news comes weeks after the former president of the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, voiced his support for Metaverse World. An excerpt from his letter reads:

“I have always advocated for the improvement of political and economic relations between Croatia and other countries, creating a unique model that combines elements of a market economy, based on the principles of mutual respect of equal partners whose mutual relations permeate all spheres of business and social life. This is the only and correct way to achieve economic goals […] I look forward to and support the establishment of this new company Metaverse World Ltd. and whose founders and investors have chosen the Republic of Croatia as the center of development of this new digital world [...]

El Salvador has already set the pace without regard to a nation adopting cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange. Since then, a few other countries have leaned in that direction. Croatia could be setting a new trend if it goes all-in on the metaverse frenzy.
Speaking of nations jumping on the NFT trend, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Barbados recently closed a historic deal to allow the sale of digital real estate as sovereign land with a Metaverse embassy. According to a report from cryptocurrency publication CoinDesk, the deal will see the rollout of projects that will enable the procurement of digital real estate, building the virtual embassies, and providing e-visa and other services along with a “teleporter” feature.

Apple Intensifies Metaverse Efforts, Listing Role for ‘Next-Gen’ AR/VR Engineer

The metaverse race has begun among big techs, with the likes of Facebook going as far as changing its name. While a total rebrand may seem a little over the edge, U.S. tech giant Apple is doing its bit to stay relevant in the fast-rising metaverse space. The company quietly announced last week that it is seeking new professionals to support its AR and VR framework.

Hayden Lee, AR/VR Software Engineering Manager for Apple, made the disclosure on Twitter, stating that Apple was looking for an engineer “with a focus on multi-user systems.”
Meanwhile, the job description on Apple’s job site noted that Apple’s Technology Development Group was seeking an engineer to boost the “capabilities and performance of AR/VR systems” for applications and systems, which included “machine learning, computer vision, and multimedia processing.” 

According to the company, applicants should be comfortable with “exploring an uncharted and constantly evolving domain.” Interested applicants should also be ready to “think outside-the-box, and solve incredibly ambitious and interesting problems in the AR/VR space.”

Apple’s latest move to employ new VR talents may not be unconnected with the launch of its mixed reality headset scheduled for the fourth quarter of next year. Rather than rely on connecting with Apple laptops, tablets, and mobiles to offload processing power, the new device is reportedly going to be a standalone headset. It will also feature an M1 chip for high-speed processing power and WiFi connectivity.

Metaverse-linked ETP Gets Nod From European Regulators

As more companies gravitate towards the metaverse space, we are beginning to see the launch of metaverse-focused exchange-traded products (ETPs).

DeFi Technologies subsidiary Valour has gotten a nod from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (SFSA) to launch its Metaverse and Gaming Index ETP.

The new product indexes the digital assets of the top five metaverse projects, including virtual world platforms like Decentraland (MANA) and play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. 

While speaking to financial media brand Blockworks, Valour CEO and chief strategy officer of DeFi Technologies Diana Biggs explained:

“The value layer, powered by blockchain technology – crypto, NFTs – is an extremely important element in this merging of physical and digital realities as it provides the economic infrastructure, which is such an essential part of how we live our lives, how we interact, how we work and play […] We have been in the extremely early stages of this technology and now, at this stage of growth, we will continue to see more real-world applications.”

Crypto exchange traded funds (ETFs) were a bone of contention among regulators for several years. However, things took a different turn following the number of institutional investors that entered the space in 2020 and 2021. The product offering has quickly evolved beyond spot and futures products.

Last month, Horizons ETFs and Evolve ETFs launched the first metaverse products in Canada. Similarly, South Korea already has several metaverse ETFs.

In the U.S., Roundhill Investments launched the first metaverse-based ETF on June 30, with its top five holdings being NVIDIA Corporation, Roblox, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Unity Software.

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