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It is easy for many to believe that the term “metaverse is a new one, but that is not true. Records show that as far back as 1838, Sir Charles Wheatstone had already introduced the concept of “binocular vision” for making a single 3D image. This eventually resulted in the development of stereoscopes – this same concept is now used in modern VR headsets. In 1956, Morton Heiling for the first time created the world's first VR machine known as the Sensorama Machine. 

MIT also rolled out the Aspen Movie Map in the 1970s and this device allowed users to embark on a computer-generated tour of Aspen, a town in Colorado. So, the concept of metaverse had been in existence for several decades but the first time the term metaverse was used was in a novel titled “Snow Crash.” It was written by Neil Stevenson in 1982 and his version of the metaverse was a virtual location where characters in the novel could visit in a bid to escape a terrible totalitarian reality.

The metaverse space has since evolved into a world of opportunities both for individuals and corporate organizations. About $54 billion is spent every year on virtual goods and this figure is almost double the amount that is spent on buying music. The new digital age consists of several elements and these elements are converging at scale. Interestingly, the metaverse is the major force that is bringing all the elements together in an immersive and unified experience.

In case you do not know what the metaverse means, it is a virtual immersive environment that serves as a platform where people from different locations around the globe can play, interact and buy things. The metaverse incorporates augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive video. The basic idea behind the metaverse is not really a complicated one.

In simple terms, the metaverse has to do with any digital experience on the internet that is immersive, virtual (not taking place in the physical world), three-dimensional (3D), and persistent.

For Irina Karagyaur, Head of Ecosystem Growth at Unique Network the metaverse has already proven that it is an exciting place to be, “Until now, Web 2 limited enterprises and content creators to the subscription or advertising framework in order to monetize their services. That meant that users had to opt for a subscription or to give up their data which would be sold to 3rd parties. This brought well-known problems related to promotion, privacy, and human rights. Now, thanks to Web 3 we have the opportunity to find monetization through the token economy. That means that we can become supporters of the Web 3 infrastructure and become a node and get paid for that, or we can create a business model and take advantage of the flexibility of blockchain. The capacity to create appealing schemes adding value to customers is infinite because businesses can now understand the customer's demands to satisfy queries and attend pains finding ways to pay back users."

The metaverse experience is offering us the chance to work, play, connect with other people, and even buy – both real and virtual items. However, the metaverse is not yet an interoperable universe or a connected one. This is because every entity creates its virtual world that has its membership, formats of creative expression, access, and monetization rights.So, who are those already establishing themselves in the metaverse? Big brands such as Nike, Disney and Gucci have already embraced this new world even as others are considering whether to get involved and how they can do it. 

The number of businesses shaping the landscape has increased over the years. But those currently leading the way include entertainment and gaming companies. Already, top players in the gaming industry like Fortnite have normalized socializing and playing with other people in virtual settings. Gaming platforms that are new in the industry like Roblox now permit users to create and play across immersive worlds that were created and, in most cases, monetized by users. 

A company like Decentraland has a complete 3D virtual world owned by its users where they created virtual structures such as galleries and theme parks and this is powered by the Ethereum blockchain. The owners of these parks charge users who visit them. 

Commercial Opportunities of the Metaverse


The Metaverse's immersive environment is not just an opportunity for consumer-facing organizations. It offers numerous opportunities; from being useful for training future surgeons to help to introduce product demos to retail workers. The metaverse has numerous business applications. For instance, the leadership of Nvidia is strongly convinced that spending money on metaverse simulations of things like logistics, and manufacturing will help cut down on waste and even foster improved business solutions. Already, Microsoft is preparing its cloud services to become the fabric of the metaverse. The company is leveraging its Mesh platform to allow avatars and immersive spaces to be introduced in collaboration environments like Teams. 

The pandemic has helped usher us into the post-Covid hybrid remote working settings and this means that majority of these creative virtual business experiences will increasingly become useful to the way firms connect to their customers and employees. Many companies are still waiting on the sidelines but it is crucial for each brand to discover its place and also strike a balance between the risk and reward of getting into the metaverse. 

The metaverse offers a home to people seeking new experiences and ways to interact with others. “Like the internet, the metaverse is digital real estate but with so many more possibilities in terms of communities, economies, engagement, and entertainment. What’s truly exciting is the amount of freedom that AR, VR and mixed reality technologies offer brands in designing the user journey and experience. By seamlessly integrating the physical and digital worlds, the metaverse is essentially an always-on layer of engagement that adds a whole new paradigm to how businesses engage with their consumers,” says Sandra Helou, Head of Metaverse and NFT, Zilliqa.

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Co-founder and CMO at Bloktopia, Paddy Carroll, believes that cryptocurrency and NFTs give businesses a new audience, in many ways an affluent audience that is willing to spend. “Any form of traditional commercial opportunities can be duplicated in the metaverse. For the first time, Web 3.0 will combine a physical shopping experience with a website e-commerce experience. That means that every commercial driver a business has, can materialize in the metaverse,” says Carroll.

What Possibilities can Businesses Explore in the Metaverse?

The metaverse is surrounded by a lot of hype just like every new and trending technology. But to give you an idea of the possibilities that businesses can now explore in the metaverse, here are some notable activities that can take place in the virtual space. 

Metaverses like the Sandbox, Zilliqa, Bloktopia, Alien Worlds, and Uplift World are working with brands to understand their objectives. They are providing them with opportunities through a range of dedicated spaces and creative activations. 

“Zilliqa’s approach through the Metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS) model of Metapolis is to look beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and instead focuses on customization as per strategy, idea, vision, and objective of the brand we work with. For example, an art gallery's metaverse is going to be designed around open spaces where the works can be properly displayed and appreciated, as well as auctioning,” says Helou. 

“Brands can earn revenue, host games, build new networks, ticket events and much more. Everything which can be achieved in the real world can be achieved in the metaverse, but the beauty of a virtual reality space is that it isn’t constrained by bricks and mortar. A brand awareness activation, an event, or a new sales revenue driver can all be created but in a completely new and immersive way. That could range from a brand CEO hosting a talk through an avatar or volumetric video, through to what might feel like a very normal day to the day shopping experience, it could be a really immersive learning event with real-life certification, all the way through to a wild exploration of the jungle in a new and unimaginable world,” says Carroll.

Businesses in the retail industry can take advantage of the immersive shopping experiences that the metaverse offers. The virtual space can also serve as the perfect platform for introducing complex and new products and this is why companies such as Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Alibaba, Zara, and Nike are experimenting with the metaverse. When it comes to the retail sector, the business opportunities of the metaverse revolve around immersive shopping experiences.

Social media is another sector that would benefit from the business opportunities in the metaverse. The virtual space can serve as the perfect basis for the creation of new social media platforms that provide immersive experiences. With the metaverse, users can easily interact with others as digital avatars in different virtual spaces. This explains why Facebook rebranded to Meta because they are convinced that the metaverse offers great prospects for the advancement of social media platforms. 

Perhaps the next stage in the evolution of social media would involve near real-life social experiences and the metaverse has all that is needed to create independent virtual communities on social media. The metaverse is also an ideal platform for delivering immersive learning experiences. Military applications, higher education, medical education and several other sectors can actually deliver more immersive learning experiences by using the metaverse. 

Most importantly, with the metaverse, businesses will no longer need to build any infrastructure required for an enabling immersive learning experience since it already exists in the metaverse.

“Before thinking about monetization, there needs to be incentivization. Your supporters or target audience need a reason to venture into the metaverse, join the community that you're creating, and participate in the events being organized. Integrating NFTs into your engagement and monetization strategy can be appealing. The strategy would depend on the nature of your business and goals as well," says Helou.

The numerous business ideas for the metaverse are strong indications of how it can turn out to be a profitable proposition. Some sectors are already taking advantage of the special features of the metaverse to transform their business operations. Many are already exploring its use but it is important to note that business opportunities in the metaverse depend greatly on how efficiently individuals and companies can tap into the positive aspects of the metaverse. 

"Brands looking at exploring the metaverse for instance, by tokenizing songs and albums, a music label can encourage fans to purchase their favorite performer's customized NFTs and airdrop individual songs to them ahead of the official album launch these acquired NFTs can later unlock VIP access within the Metaverse and or a whole new digital experience which only holders can participate in," continues Helou.

Perhaps the most striking benefit of the metaverse for business has to do with the availability of a shared, persistent and open virtual environment. The metaverse offers businesses, individuals and governments immersive and engaging experiences while granting users complete ownership of assets and experiences that facilitate trading.