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The metaverse is money and crypto is king – why you’ll be on a blockchain when you’re virtual-world hopping

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(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Rabindra Ratan, Michigan State University and Dar Meshi, Michigan State University

(THE CONVERSATION) You may think the metaverse will be a bunch of interconnected virtual spaces – the world wide web but accessed through virtual reality. This is largely correct, but there is also a fundamental but slightly more cryptic side to the metaverse that will set it apart from today’s internet: the blockchain.

In the beginning, Web 1.0 was the information superhighway of connected computers and servers that you could search, explore and inhabit, usually through a centralized company’s platform – for example, AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google. Around the turn of the millennium, Web 2.0 came to be characterized by social networking sites, blogging and the monetization of user data for advertising by the centralized gatekeepers to “free” social media platforms, including Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and TikTok.

Web 3.0 will be the foundation for the metaverse. It will consist of blockchain-enabled decentralized applications that support an economy of user-owned crypto assets and data.

Blockchain? Decentralized? Crypto-assets? As researcherswho study social media and media technology, we can explain the technology that will make the metaverse possible.


Owning bits

Blockchain is a technology that permanently records transactions, typically in a decentralized and public database called a ledger. Bitcoin is the most well-known blockchain-based cryptocurrency. Every time you buy some bitcoin, for example, that transaction gets recorded to the Bitcoin blockchain, which means the record is distributed to thousands of individual computers around the world.

This decentralized recording system is very difficult to fool or control. Public blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are also transparent – all transactions are available for anyone on the internet to see, in contrast to traditional banking books.

Ethereum is a blockchain like Bitcoin, but Ethereum is also programmable through smart contracts, which are essentially blockchain-based software routines that run automatically when some condition is met. For example, you could use a smart contract on the blockchain to establish your ownership of a digital object, such as a piece of art or music, to which no one else can claim ownership on the blockchain — even if they save a copy to their computer. Digital objects that can be owned – currencies, securities, artwork – are crypto assets.

Items like artwork and music on a blockchain are nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Nonfungible means they are unique and not replaceable, the opposite of fungible items like currency – any dollar is worth the same as, and can be swapped with, any other dollar.

Importantly, you could use a smart contract that says you are willing to sell your piece of digital art for US$1 million in ether, the currency of the Ethereum blockchain. When I click “agree,” the artwork and the ether automatically transfer ownership between us on the blockchain. There is no need for a bank or third-party escrow, and if either of us were to dispute this transaction – for example, if you claimed that I only paid $999,000 – the other could easily point to the public record in the distributed ledger.

What does this blockchain crypto-asset stuff have to do with the metaverse? Everything! To start, the blockchain allows you to own digital goods in a virtual world. You won’t just own that NFT in the real world, you’ll own it in the virtual world, too.

In addition, the metaverse isn’t being built by any one group or company. Different groups will build different virtual worlds, and in the future these worlds will be interoperable – forming the metaverse. As people move between virtual worlds – say from Decentraland’s virtual environments to Microsoft’s – they’ll want to bring their stuff with them. If two virtual worlds are interoperable, the blockchain will authenticate proof of ownership of your digital goods in both virtual worlds. Essentially, as long as you are able to access your crypto wallet within a virtual world, you will be able to access your crypto stuff.

Don’t forget your wallet

So what will you keep in your crypto wallet? You will obviously want to carry cryptocurrencies in the metaverse. Your crypto wallet will also hold your metaverse-only digital goods, such as your avatars, avatar clothing, avatar animations, virtual decorations and weapons.

What will people do with their crypto wallets? Among other things, shop. Just as you likely do on the web now, you will be able to purchase traditional digital goods like music, movies, games and apps. You’ll also be able to buy physical-world items in the metaverse, and you’ll be able to view and “hold” 3D models of what you are shopping for, which could help you make more informed decisions.

Also, just like you can use ye old leather wallet to carry your ID, crypto wallets will be linkable to real-world identities, which could help facilitate transactions that require legal verification, such as buying a real-world car or home. Because your ID will be linked to your wallet, you won’t need to remember login information for all the websites and virtual worlds that you visit – just connect your wallet with a click and you are logged in. ID-associated wallets will also be useful for controlling access to age-restricted areas in the metaverse.

Your crypto wallet could also be linked to your contacts list, which would allow you to bring your social network information from one virtual world to another. “Join me for a pool party in FILL IN THE BLANK-world!”

At some point in the future, wallets could also be associated with reputation scores that determine the permissions you have to broadcast in public places and interact with people outside of your social network. If you act like a toxic misinformation-spreading troll, you may damage your reputation and potentially have your sphere of influence reduced by the system. This could create an incentive for people to behave well in the metaverse, but platform developers will have to prioritize these systems.

Big business

Lastly, if the metaverse is money, then companies will certainly want to play too. The decentralized nature of blockchain will potentially reduce the need for gatekeepers in financial transactions, but companies will still have many opportunities to generate revenue, possibly even more than in current economies. Companies like Meta will provide large platforms where people will work, play and congregate.

Major brands are also getting into the NFT mix, including Dolce & Gabbana, Coca-Cola, Adidas and Nike. In the future, when you buy a physical world item from a company, you might also gain ownership of a linked NFT in the metaverse.

For example, when you buy that coveted name-brand outfit to wear to the real-world dance club, you might also become the owner of the crypto version of the outfit that your avatar can wear to the virtual Ariana Grande concert. And just as you could sell the physical outfit secondhand, you could also sell the NFT version for someone else’s avatar to wear.

These are a few of the many ways that metaverse business models will likely overlap with the physical world. Such examples will get more complex as augmented reality technologies increasingly come into play, further merging aspects of the metaverse and physical world. Although the metaverse proper isn’t here yet, technological foundations like blockchain and crypto assets are steadily being developed, setting the stage for a seemingly ubiquitous virtual future that is coming soon to a ‘verse near you.

[Understand new developments in science, health and technology, each week. Subscribe to The Conversation’s science newsletter.]

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/the-metaverse-is-money-and-crypto-is-king-why-youll-be-on-a-blockchain-when-youre-virtual-world-hopping-171659.



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Metaverse

Walmart signals metaverse plans with trademark applications around virtual goods, NFTs

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Dive Brief:

  • Walmart filed a series of trademark applications late last month that indicate the retailer has bigger plans for the metaverse, including through the development of cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). CNBC first spotted the batch of documents that were submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 30.
  • The applications, of which there are seven in total, encompass concepts like “virtual goods” across product categories such as furniture, toys and sporting gear, along with downloadable software for managing cryptocurrency portfolios or establishing an electronic wallet.
  • Games and other services powered by augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology also make appearances. The news suggests the metaverse could play a significant role in Walmart’s strategy as the big-box brand centers more of its business around the digital world.

Dive Insight:

Walmart isn’t the first marketer to show budding interest in the metaverse, but a potentially substantial push to build out its offerings could go a long way in sparking more mainstream adoption of technologies that are foundational to the channel, including cryptocurrencies. The big-box store is the largest retailer in the world, reaching a massive audience of shoppers, and rivals may follow Walmart’s lead in ramping up their bets lest they lose an early-mover advantage in a market some view as the next evolution of the internet.

That said, many metaverse-related technologies like NFTs haven’t served a purpose in marketing beyond one-off stunts or generating some headlines. But the broader vision of what the metaverse could eventually become is appealing to companies like Walmart, with shared virtual realms acting as a venue for customers to try out experiences and products and eventually make purchases of digital goods as they look to customize their online avatars and living spaces. Though businesses clearly smell an opportunity, consumers haven’t quite come around to the idea, even as categories like gaming provide a loose sense of what’s possible in the metaverse.

Some groundwork has already been laid for Walmart’s metaverse approach. Last year, it began seeking a digital currency and cryptocurrency product lead, following in Amazon’s footsteps. Recent executive changes point to a possible strategy switch-up. Longtime merchandising chief Scott McCall is retiring, Bloomberg reported, while Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside — a key player in rounding out Walmart’s e-commerce playbook — will depart in March.

Walmart dipping its toes in the metaverse could support other ventures that are important to staying competitive in retail. In 2020, it introduced its long-awaited Walmart+ e-commerce portal meant to tackle the growing threat of Amazon Prime. Several of the trademark applications were also made under Walmart Connect, the marketer’s fledgling advertising business. Walmart has quickly built out the unit as the demand for retail media soars during the pandemic and packaged goods brands seek alternative targeting methods to cookies, which are being phased out next year.

Other marketers are more firmly planting their metaverse flags. Nike in December acquired RTFKT, a digital studio that designs virtual collectibles like NFTs. The sportswear marketer also recently established Nikeland, an interactive experience inside the Roblox gaming platform that lets visitors participate in activities like dodgeball and trying on virtual apparel.



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Is the Metaverse Ready for a Metaphysical ART CLUB?

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Public Mint opens at the price of 0.333 Ethereum. The project has opened an Early Mint Allow List with Limited Spots available, which allows minting 1 day early on January 22, 2022.  Registration is Required for Early Mint. Registration can be found at: https://456collectorsclub.com/public-mint-early-access-registration

Zevi G is a prolific and steadfast artist who uses his studio to bring unanticipated creations to life. In a world where love, unity and kindness have become a scarce commodity, Zevi is determined to make a change using his art and many compelling characters to spread this powerful message.

The 456 Collector’s Club by Zevi G is a collection of 4,560 unique algorithmically created NFTs featuring characters from Zevi G’s signature series “456 Land”. Holders become members of an exclusive Art Club and continually unlock redeemable artwork in intervals as the community grows, get access to future community events, and digital experiences.

Zevi G was never intimidated by his underprivileged and very orthodox upbringing, on the contrary, that became the very essence of his strength and will, to turn his life around and reach others with positive and relevant messages. Each 456 Land sculpture comes with its own personality and features different traits such as the angel with its thin legs and wings, or the soldier with its buff chest. The childlike characters with eyes full of wonder appear as a musician, a roofer, a jeweler, a guitarist; a world of references and emotional memories that is personal and reflects on the artist’s past.

456 Club holders get Utility. After holding for 1-month owners can claim a 1×1 print of the exact NFT they own. After holding for 4-months holders will be able to redeem a 7 in. by 7 in. Namaste Sculpture in the corresponding color of their NFT. There are 10 different colors available with some colors more limited than others. Each sculpture will feature an NFC chip that provides the owner with continual digital experiences and helps pair the physical item with the NFT.

Anyone who mints 3 or more NFTs is entered into a raffle for a 5 ft. Diamond Hands Bronze Sculpture valued at $175,000.

Each NFT is a raffle ticket to win a 26-inch Diamond Hands Resin sculpture valued at $10,000 – 5 winners total (3 white, 2 Blue).

Join the conversation on Discord to learn more about additional giveaways!

Mint a 456 Collectors Club NFT to join the club and become a member is the first community to dedicate its purpose to spreading the message of love and unity through physical and digital art. Register for Early Access.

Related Links

Website: http://456collectorsclub.com
OpenSea: https://opensea.io/collection/456-collectors-club-v2
Twitter: http://twitter.com/456_club
Instagram: http://instagram.com/zevigart
456 Land: http://zevigart.com
Discord: https://discord.com/invite/456collectorsclub

SOURCE 456 Collector’s Club





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Video Walmart steps into metaverse to sell virtual goods – ABC News

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