Who loves the Metaverse?

According to a survey conducted for the World Economic Forum (WEF), and currently meeting in Davos, excitement over the emergence of the Metaverse and virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) is much greater in developing countries than in high-income countries.

The survey conducted by Ipsos, a well-known market research firm, showed that recognition of what the Metaverse is has increased with 52% of more than 21,000 adults surveyed across 29 countries saying they are familiar with it, and 50% have positive feelings about engaging with it in daily life.

The countries where people have the most positive feelings towards it are China, India, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia. In these countries two-thirds or more of respondents said they had positive feelings towards it. China is the most enthusiastic with 78% having positive feelings toward using a Metaverse daily, followed by India at 75%.

On the other side of the coin, the world’s high-income countries showed a more negative response to it. Japan scored the lowest with just 22% exhibiting positive feelings followed by the United Kingdom (26%), Belgium (30%), Canada (30%), France (31%), and Germany (31%). It was also interesting to note that people surveyed in these countries had much less understanding of the concept of the Metaverse, with fewer than 30% in France, Belgium and Germany having a good grasp of it.

Of those who knew most about it, Turkey was most familiar with the Metaverse at 86%, followed by India (80%), China (73%), but also the higher income country of South Korea (71%). 

And which countries thought the Metaverse could make a positive contribution to life, and to which areas of life? Developing countries such as South Africa, China and India agreed areas like virtual learning, entertainment, and even applications like remote surgery would make an impact on people’s lives. Again respondents from high income Japan, Belgium and France had the lowest percentages of those who agreed that Metaverse applications would significantly change people’s lives.

No doubt there are many conclusions to be drawn from this survey, particularly about why developing economies are more pro-Metaverse than those who lead the world table in terms of their economies. Is the answer something as simple as they see the Metaverse as offering hope, opportunities and more when you live in a weaker economy?

JP Morgan: The Big Bank in the Metaverse!

It is slightly ironic that the bank whose CEO made so many derisory remarks about cryptocurrencies should be the first to stake its place in the Metaverse. I am of course talking about America’s largest bank, JP Morgan and its CEO Jamie Dimon. Yet here we are: JP Morgan has opened a lounge called Onyx in Decentraland, a virtual world based on blockchain technology. By the way, Onyx lounge refers to the bank’s suite of permissioned Ethereum-based services.

At the same time as making this announcement, it released a paper titled Opportunities in the Metaverse, which it claims will help businesses “navigate the hype vs. reality.” It is certainly worth a read, and makes clear for many the differences between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. If you ever need to explain the difference, the table on page 4 is the equivalent of exam pass notes and will save you hours of trying to come up with your own answers.

Clients are interested

Christine Moy, JPMorgan’s head of crypto and the metaverse told Coindesk, “”There is a lot of client interest to learn more about the metaverse. We put together our white paper to help clients cut through the noise and highlight what the current reality is, and what needs to be built next in technology, commercial infrastructure, privacy/identity and workforce, in order to maximize the full potential of our lives in the metaverse.”

As the JP Morgan paper points out, Decentraland is attracting big brand names. Samsung opened a ‘metaverse’’ version of its New York store there, and Barbados set up a metaverse embassy as well. Much of this activity is thanks to the acceleration of interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as well what is described as “a breathless advance into the metaverse, a catch-all for immersive gaming, world-building and entertainment, fueled by integrated commerce applications.”


Metanomics, or the economics of the Metaverse, are firmly in JP Morgan’s sights. Its paper points out that the average price of a parcel of virtual land doubled in the latter half of 2021, jumping from $6,000 in June to $12,000 by December across the four main Web 3 metaverse sites: Decentraland, The Sandbox, Somnium Space and Cryptovoxels. It added, “In time, the virtual real estate market could start seeing services much like in the physical world, including credit, mortgages and rental agreements.” Furthermore, JPM believes that DeFi collateral management could well come into play, and that this could be done by decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO), rather than traditional finance companies.

Money to be made

JPM sees the Metaverse as a money maker. There will be entertainment, virtual fashion designers (Nike has shoes covered for now) and there is going to be a massive amount of advertising spend, with the bank citing a prediction that in-game ad spending is set to reach $18.41 billion by 2027.

Of course, as the title of the paper suggests, JPM wants to avoid the hype and be clear about the reality. So, it does have criticisms of the Metaverse in its current form. For example, it says the overall user experience and performance of avatars, as well as commercial infrastructure need improvement.

And why is JP Morgan well placed to offer advice about the Metaverse? The report makes the case, saying, “We believe the existing virtual gaming landscape (each virtual world with its own population, GDP, in-game currency and digital assets) has elements that parallel the existing global economy. This is where our long-standing core competencies in cross-border payments, foreign exchange, financial assets creation, trading and safekeeping, in addition to our at-scale consumer foothold, can play a major role in the metaverse.”

NFTs Rock for Musicians and Music Fans

NFTs have so far proved to be popular in several industries, including art, gaming and luxury brands. The reason for this is that they have demonstrated an important use case: they create a lasting connection between brands and their customers.

Enter a new industry eager to experience some NFT magic: the billion-dollar event-ticketing industry. According to Rachel Wolfson, the sector of this industry most likely to be disrupted by non-fungible tokens is the online event-ticketing sector, which is expected to reach $60 billion by 2026. The form this is likely to take will be the emergence of NFT ticket platforms or marketplaces issuing virtual tickets on a blockchain network.

Colby Mort, head of marketing and communications at Get Protocol, a company that is an NFT ticketing infrastructure provider using the Polygon network, commented, “Since 2016, Get Protocol has processed over 1 million on-chain registered tickets for events across the world, with 500,000 being NFT tickets processed during 2021.”

Essentially it is hoped that NFTs will solve some of the inefficiencies faced by traditional ticketing systems. Josh Katz, CEO of YellowHeart, a marketplace for music and live-event NFT ticketing, explained that NFT tickets give fans more control, as well as offering ongoing royalties for artists. He has pointed out that with the traditional ticketing system there are a number of issues, including that of ticket touts who inflate prices: “There are tremendous challenges around ticketing today, including counterfeiting, bad actors, rampant fraud and, more than anything, fragmentation. For instance, when a major ticketing platform releases a ticket, it can be bought and sold across secondary marketplaces multiple times. NFT tickets solve all of these problems.”

In his view, one of the benefits of NFT ticketing is that it redirects money from third-party ticket sellers back to artists, because they can pay out royalties, as well as benefit stakeholders and event organisers. As he says, “The artist take is 95% primary and 5% secondary, currently. But when YellowHeart secondary opens in Q2, artists will be able to set their own secondary rate and keep up to 100% of revenue flow.” That’s good news for artists.

The control over secondary markets is possibly the most important aspect of NFT tickets. It is well known that ‘ticket brokers’ buy up event tickets in the thousands to resell at inflated prices, and the NFT tickets will remove that market, which disadvantages both artists and fans.

So what do artists think? Marc Brownstein, co-founder and bassist of The Disco Biscuits, supporters and users of NFTs said: “As creators and artists, being able to have some stake in the secondary ticket market is valuable. For example, if you are releasing a 500-ticket show and each ticket is $50, these can sell out instantly and then be listed on Stubhub for $500 each. This is a scenario artists know too well, so having commission on secondary sales is very opportunistic.”

And Katz revealed that the Kings of Leon tokenised NFT album generated close to $1.45 million during the first five days of sales on OpenSea. That may be due to the fact that fans didn’t only get an album, they had an opportunity to experience VIP fan experiences, band meet-and-greets, exclusive tour merchandise and more.

Even if there are challenges to NFT ticketing in music and sport, there is a belief that it will nevertheless expand during 2022 with the rise of the Metaverse. Katz added that YellowHeart is looking into applying its NFT tickets within Metaverse environments, although he did say that Metaverse ecosystems will never be able to fully replace live concerts, but they can complement them.

Web 3 is nothing new

The idea of a decentralized web has been in the minds of many for around 20 years, but when you read much of the press about it today, you’d be forgiven for believing it was a brand new concept.

The concept is a response to the domination of Web 2.0 by the Big Tech companies, Facebook and Google in particular, explains Michael J. Casey, and their “data-driven economics.” Most of us understand by now exactly how those two companies in particular exploited the web and us, even as at the same time they reunited us with old friends, helped us grow businesses and made searching so more intuitive. After all, who remembers using search engines in the era Before Google? It was much slower and you really needed to know how to search.

However there is quite some debate raging around the concept of Web 3. On the one hand, as Casey reports, there is Chris Dixon who is a fervent Web 3 supporter and a believer that Web 3 projects are creating real value, and on the other, Jack Dorsey, who claims the “term is just a buzzword exploited by venture capitalists to boost their equity and token investment.” Casey says in response to this, “That smart people – including two famous “Tims” – have been exploring an exit from Web 2.0 for so long suggests Web 3 projects have worthy ambitions and that there will be public benefits and business payoffs if they succeed.” But he concedes, “this long history reminds us that solving a very big problem is hard and that investors would be wise to take grandiose promises with a grain of salt.”

It is possible not to side with either Chris or Jack, and instead focus on the core structural issues with Web 2.0 and why there’s a need to change them. The fundamental problem with Web 2.0 is the misalignment between the interests of the giant companies that dominate the Internet and those of the general public. Casey says that whilst blockchain is a solution, it is not the only one. As Casey says, “We need a mix of technologies (both decentralized and centralized), regulation and economic rationale to enable business models that bring those competing private and public interests together.”

Let’s not forget that Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Internet, said in 2006 that the web needed an overhaul. He allegedly coined the term Web 3.0, in reference to the evolution of universal data formats and artificial intelligence removing the need for intermediation by third parties to allow a true “machine-to-machine” communication network.

Currently, Web 3.0 is primarily associated with blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs, and the debate is still ongoing about what Web 3.0 could potentially be in the end, but as Casey remarks, there is still a long way to go before we can escape The Matrix!