The Metaverse has become one of the most buzzwords in blockchain and crypto as it promises to provide a more immersive, interactive and collaborative experience than what the internet has done to date.

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This promise of a new world has led huge businesses like Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to invest huge sums in the nascent space. When most people hear the name “Metaverse”, their mind wanders to several things: an opportunity for global conglomerates to showcase their technological advances, an esoteric product for the select few that showcases non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or a new frontier in game development. However, diving deep into the Metaverse opens up a whole new world, a world full of new opportunities and risks for both consumers and businesses.

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While the current Metaverse ecosystem may be populated by giant corporations, small businesses will eventually have to make the transition to have wider adoption. Looking at the historical patterns of adoption of new technologies such as the Internet, mobile payments and more, it becomes clear that small businesses play a huge role in attracting the masses.

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One of the key takeaways from Facebook’s Connect 2021 was that Metaverse is inevitable, but the timeline for widespread adoption is at least a decade long. A study by Pew Research found this is about 54% of the top technology innovators, developers and businesses. Meanwhile, political leaders believe that by 2040 the Metaverse will become a functional aspect of daily life for half a billion or more people around the world.

The urgency to move to Metaverse may not be immediate, but companies should consider the technology, at least at the edge. By strategically utilizing resources now, the enterprise will be able to improve the quality of customer service in the future.

To understand what opportunities and risks Metaverse brings to business, you need to understand the Metaverse infrastructure. John Redoff, CEO of 3D game company Beamable, identified seven levels:

  1. Infrastructure: This layer represents Semiconductors, Materials Science, Cloud Computing, and Telecom Networks, which allow layers to be built above it.
  2. Human Interface: The Human Interface Layer refers to the hardware that will be used to access the Metaverse. This includes everything from mobile devices to virtual reality headsets.
  3. Decentralization: Build everything around a distributed and democratized permissionless structure.
  4. Spatial Computing: This layer refers to the software that renders objects in 3D and allows the hardware interface to interact with them.
  5. Author Economy: It will be easier for creators to create Metaverse projects and monetize them.
  6. Discovery: Ways to discover experiences.
  7. Experience: Users can participate in games, social networks, live music and so on.

In all likelihood, most small businesses will be involved in bringing the Metaverse experience to their customers. Speaking to Cryptooshala about the disruptive potential of Metaverse, Naveen Singh, co-founder and CEO of decentralized data management network Inery, said:

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“The fact that the Metaverse will be a major breakthrough in the digital economy is no longer in doubt. The real focus now is on which industries the Metaverse will have the most value for. As a gateway to the new digital economy, the Metaverse opens up new opportunities across multiple domains.”

“The industries most likely to transform and be directly impacted by the Metaverse are gaming, fashion, entertainment, media, and retail. At the same time, for the Metaverse to reach its full potential, one of the most defining properties will be the interoperability of its entire structure,” he said.

The Metaverse is Changing Industries

The gaming industry has traditionally been a trailblazer in the use of cutting edge technology, and the same is true of the Metaverse. Many gamers already see Metaverse as the next frontier in gaming. The developers say that modern games can often cause a feeling of loneliness. While multiplayer games address isolation to some extent, Metaverse takes immersion and community to a whole new level. Communities created by Metaverse projects such as Decentraland, Axie Infinity and Sandbox provide not only social benefits, but also monetary ones.

However, the current Metaverse gaming space is dominated by large firms. The research and development for the Metaverse game is generally beyond the budget of a small business. Nikita Sachdev, founder and CEO of Luna PR, believes that along with gaming, real estate is another sector that could potentially become an earlier supporter of the Metaverse. Sachdev told Cryptooshala:

“In real estate, companies and agencies are always looking for ways to inspect and visualize properties for pre-sales and foreign investors. Imagine being able to tour the entire complex before it’s even built? Investing in real estate will become much more exciting, and “open houses” will no longer be needed.”

The global real estate market is valued at more than $3 trillion, and any potential dent in this space could have huge economic and social repercussions.

Fashion is another sector that can be destroyed by the Metaverse. In fact, there is already a successful Metaverse Fashion Week which included runway screenings, after-parties, immersive experiences, shopping, panel discussions and more.

Waheed Chammas, co-founder of Faith Tribe, an open source design platform, believes that since the Metaverse and fashion are ultimately about identity, they must complement each other. Speaking to Cryptooshala, he said:

“People go into the Metaverse and do all sorts of things to live and portray a person that they might not live in the physical world. Wearables are undoubtedly the best way to showcase your individuality and identity. Having this connection between physical and digital underlines your perceived identity, and we believe that brands that take digital fashion seriously will continue to disrupt both the physical and Metaverse worlds of fashion.”

Risks associated with the Metaverse

Exposure to Metaverse may have a higher risk for small businesses. The ecosystem is still shaping up, and the uncertain and nascent nature of the Metaverse could cause some businesses’ roadmap to go astray. Explaining this point, Jake Frazier, head of business development at Mogul Productions, told Cryptooshala:

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“Technical expertise and knowing how to structure the virtual environment for users is a fluid space that requires people to keep their finger on the pulse to deliver the best user experience. There must also be value to the user and something unique that they can’t get from your brand elsewhere. If there is no clear “hook”, it can be difficult to get business acceptance.”

However, it is clear that the participation of relevant companies in the Metaverse not only helps companies to be ready for the future, but also makes their current offerings more profitable. The benefits far outweigh the risks. George Narita, CEO of Aurora42, told Cryptooshala:

“The most significant risk is not getting into the world of the metaverse. I see a lot of opportunities, especially for early adopters, as was the case at the beginning of the dot-com era; many did not understand how to communicate. Just being in the Metaverse is not enough. Those with a breakthrough vision and who provide experiences and emotional connections by creating with their followers will lead the way. Today, people do not want to be passive, but want to be part of the construction of this universe.”