A non-fungible token (NFT) titled 'Creation of My Metaverse' on display at Sotheby's in New York. Photo: AFP / Cindy Ord / Getty Images

The metaverse: the next evolution in online experience. A concept that provides a virtual parallel to physical reality where a community of people can interact through avatars, where physical, augmented, and virtual reality is merged in a shared online environment. Science fiction or reality?

Well, it’s very much a reality. Social-media giant Facebook recently announced plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop the so-called metaverse, which underscores that it’s not being viewed as an “extension” of the Internet, but as its successor. 

According to data from accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the virtual and augmented reality market is forecast to grow in value from US$46.4 billion in 2019 to $1.5 trillion by 2030.

In Asia, Samsung Asset Management, South Korea’s largest asset manager, predicts its Samsung Global Metaverse Fund, launched in June, will surpass its target of drawing 100 billion won ($86 million) by the end of this year, with around 1 billion to 2 billion won flowing in each day.

The fund concentrates on eight themes, namely cloud computing, virtual reality, online payments, 3D design tools, platform businesses, mobility, the luxury goods industry and online gaming.

Indeed, the gaming sector in the Southeast Asian region has soared amid the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Shibuya Data Count, the Southeast Asian gaming market will record a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 8.5% between 2020 and 2025. The six countries in Southeast Asia with the largest gaming markets are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

In addition, driving a large number of the metaverse platforms are NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which are unique digital assets designed to represent ownership of a virtual item, such as artwork, music, a video clip, or tokenized tweet, among other representations, which are purchased with cryptocurrency.

As such, I firmly believe that crypto investors will likely be the “Masters of the Metaverse.”  

With the metaverse being built and operated on blockchains and decentralized applications – the same tech utilized by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum – digital currencies will likely become the only legal tender accepted in the metaverse.

This concept will become the gateway to nearly all digital experiences and be an essential part of most physical ones, so it will profoundly alter the way we live, interact with one another and do business.

Furthermore, the metaverse will revolutionize economies. It will lead to whole new generations of businesses, which is why the major tech firms, like Facebook, are getting involved. Who wants to be left lagging behind something so big?

So today’s crypto investors will be at a huge advantage, as prices of major cryptocurrencies will likely skyrocket over the next few years. Therefore, those getting in now can make the most of the lower entry points. 

Consequently, their digital purchasing power will be colossal, and they will be the Masters of the Metaverse.

Although the concept is still in the early stages, and it may be 10 or 15 years until the metaverse’s full potential is realized, early adopters of new tech will have a massive advantage, as well as those already backing the currencies of the future.

Nigel Green is the founder and CEO of deVere Group.