Meta Platforms Inc. — formerly known as Facebook Inc. — Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are all investing heavily in the virtual environments known as the metaverse. Those looking to own “real estate” or start businesses related to the metaverse, just like in the real world, often need loans and financial assistance and guidance.
Metaverse is a term that describes a version of online interaction in which traditional messaging and video chats are supplemented by virtual scenes and images, giving users the ability to personalize online interactions.
At the moment, this reality is mostly contained inside a headset or on a computer screen, allowing users to experience spaces such as virtual office buildings, shopping malls and event spaces.
Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that the metaverse will be an $800 billion marketing opportunity by 2024. Bloomberg predicts that the primary market for online game makers and gaming hardware could exceed $400 billion, while live entertainment and social media make up the remainder.
Meta is expected to invest $50 billion in its metaverse in the coming years, developing virtual reality glasses and robotic arms to connect users in the real world with the virtual one.
While large companies are building the hardware and framework for the metaverse, smaller companies are looking for ways to create experiences and sell products to virtual visitors. So how does a company find the financing to invest in a virtual storefront, office building or event space?
Unlike grabbing a URL for less than $100 during the early days of the Internet, getting a foothold in the metaverse can currently cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, at a minimum. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners will need credit to stake their claim in this new virtual space.
There will be many legal questions about funding that will arise from the metaverse. It’s an area of the law that has piqued the interest of Tom Ara, a partner at DLA Piper, which maintains offices downtown and in Century City.
Ara is advising clients on the future of Web 3.0, or the metaverse. The first iteration of the internet that some of us can remember was basic websites and email. Web 2.0 appeared with the advent of social media.
Ara believes that the main questions for the third age of the Internet revolve around how the metaverse will be governed and accessed.
“Zoom, Microsoft Teams, they’re already a version of the metaverse,” Ara said. But as the space grows and real money gets involved, there will be issues that arise about “how do you control it in a legal way”.
This should be a safe place for business and consumers.
“People will want to know if there will be connections between metaverses built by different companies,” Ara said. “Will you be able to carry your virtual identity across the metaverse? Will headphones cross the metaverse?”
Many of these questions remain unanswered. In the end, Ara observed, “People want to be where their friends are.”
For business entrepreneurs who want to set up shop in the metaverse, it’s currently a gamble as to where their customers will stand in virtual reality. But for those who want to take a little risk, there are companies that are willing to introduce them.
In January, Vancouver, TerraZero Technologies Inc. based in British Columbia, which has a US branch in Century City, announced that it completed one of the first ever “metaverse mortgages” with one of its clients on an Ethereum-based metaverse platform called Decentralland.
How does it work? Prospective customers can go online to the TerraZero platform, explore offers and listings, including land size, location and prefab building elements applicable to their chosen metaverse.
“We don’t lend for speculation,” Dan Reitzik, TerraZero’s chief executive and founder, told the Business Journal. “It’s more of a small business loan.”
Reitzik explained that their first mortgage metaverse customer told him, “This is what I’m going to build and that’s how I’m going to make money.”
When a customer signs the mortgage contract, the NFT land (non-transferable land) is held with TerraZero as the registered owner until the loan is repaid based on the agreed terms.
TerraZero gives the customer deployment rights, so the customer can build on the metaverse, organize events, open digital storefronts or host an internal company office. Customers make monthly payments until the mortgage is paid off, and then the NFT is fully transferred to
TerraZero did not disclose how much the customer paid for a down payment or the interest rate, but noted that it was a two-year mortgage.
Currently, any user can connect a crypto wallet to the Decentraland app and visit the world to look around for investment opportunities. The world is populated with music venues, parks and casinos.
Property in the metaverse is limited and, like cryptocurrency, there is only so much that can be issued, so there is value in its scarcity. However, there is no limit to the number of metaverses that can be built. Both crypto and NFTs are volatile assets, but in certain circumstances they have proven to be very profitable. Investors and big companies like Nike Inc. and Sotheby’s have seen some success with NFT and metaverse sales.
At the moment, the metaverse works on cryptocurrency.
“In reality, 98% of consumers have never had a crypto wallet,” said Brandon Johnson, chief experience officer at TerraZero.
He noted that there will need to be a way for consumers to use their regular credit cards to encourage wider adoption of spending money in the metaverse.
“This should be a safe place for businesses and consumers,” Johnson said.
Leave a Reply