By Sascha Munger
The metaverse is the next significant step in the evolution of the internet, an important part in the collection of Web3 technologies which will make our world more connected than ever. Though currently there is no one singular metaverse, consumers can expect to engage in social, cultural and commercial experiences without having to leave their home. What we can expect from this new technology is the ability to enhance levels of connectivity and interaction, but what does this technology look like and what can we ascertain from it?
For new entrants to the metaverse, one of the first wonders that will strike them is how accessible everything is. A single click, turn of the head or glance, can transport users across a new environment and for those interested in recreating Ancient Greece, time travel too. Of course, for those ‘in the know’, the metaverse and its potential is not a new concept. But it is important to consider the potential implications of transcending our temporal limitations.
You may travel virtually to a potential holiday destination in Italy, along with your friends and discover that you would like to visit in person. This shows the metaverse can optimise customer choice and the overall experience, allowing users to get a taste for where they want to go and potentially inspiring them to explore the physical world. The accessibility of this technology also grants equal access to people with disabilities, and potentially reduces the growing problem of loneliness faced by many around the world. The metaverse can certainly open parts of the world to us, but what else?
The rapid growth of the internet gave consumers an experience beyond traditional bricks and mortar. Now, the metaverse brings with it even greater opportunities for commerce, but with enhanced personalisation and limitless possibilities. While in their homes, customers can access virtual stores to purchase physical or digital goods. Take for example purchasing luxury goods from a retailer. Through metaverse stores consumers can access both a digital and physical version of their purchase(s). Accompanying this purchase, may be the additional security of blockchain technology, and to keep things simple this technology enables users to be sure what they are buying is authentic. No longer will customers have to worry if what they buy as ‘used’ is real or fake, practically removing opportunities for harmful scammers.
The metaverse can also enhance people’s shopping in the physical realm. When purchasing clothes, users can select an article they like, scan a QR code, and see themselves wearing it in a high-resolution environment using augmented reality. This is the clearest and most tangible example of ‘phygital’ experience, where the physical world meets the digital. For those consumers that may not want to go ‘all-in’ to the metaverse, this also provides a middle ground option to continue to do what they like, while incorporating helpful and exciting future-proof technology.
An obstacle for many potential adopters of this technology, has been what appears to be a set of complex definitions and difficult systems. Understanding what an NFT (non-fungible token) is to the uninitiated may be a daunting task. This is before explaining that to purchase an NFT, you may need to exchange fiat currency for cryptocurrency. In the past, this was the state of affairs for those attempting to join the metaverse. Much to the benefit of the users. payment systems are becoming more accessible and adaptable, and customers are given the convenience of using traditional electronic payment methods like credit cards or mobile payments., or using the metaverse’s associated cryptocurrency. Removing one of the more difficult hurdles to more mainstream adoption.
Community building can also take place on the metaverse, where customers meet up and participate in brand events such as virtual art exhibitions, cultural events or music festivals – combining the metaverse’s next level of accessibility and engagement with commerce. The current methods of advertising may be replaced, as brands add value to their established communities through shared experiences.
Gamers, the early adopters of this new technology, have already been reaping the rewards that this new technology can give them. Virtual reality, a large component of the metaverse has been building momentum in the gaming space for years, allowing gamers to utilise new technology to enjoy high resolution virtual worlds.
However, one of the most popular VR platforms, VR Chat, does not aim for graphical quality, but is more focused on connection. Spurred on by content creators on YouTube and Twitch, the platform has allowed creators to develop their communities and engage in a way not available before. Along with hyper-personalisation choice for avatars, and the ability to talk and express themselves beyond voice as in the past, VR chat has shown the potential for this technology in the not so distant future.
As more customers and brands enter the metaverse, we can expect to see it becoming a far more mainstream ecommerce and distribution channel. Over time, as adoption rates increase and people become more accustomed to using the platform, the need for businesses to adapt to meet its needs and demands will become more pronounced.
Ultimately, the metaverse will encourage ecommerce brands to think beyond their traditional physical presence and even their existing digital presence, as they consider what their business will look like on this emerging platform. How this will take place, and which ‘verse’ will take the lead in unifying the metaverse and dominating the market is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the early adopters who prepare now, look set for a brighter future.
Sascha Münger is currently working as Head Competence Center Crypto Related Products & Metaverse within the Global Business Division Commercial Acquiring at Worldline Global. In this role, he is responsible for products related to crypto payments at the point of sale and in eCommerce as well as future commerce scenarios in the Metaverse. Previously, he was responsible for the implementation of the payment processing module within the TWINT system at SIX Payments Services (predecessor organization of Worldline). Sascha holds a Federal Diploma of Higher Education in Business Organisation and he started his career 2007 in Zurich at Telekurs Group (later SIX) in various positions within the finance department. In 2010, he moved to Würth Finance International B.V. to work within the Treasury Services division. He then returned to SIX Management in the position as a Cash Manager, before taking on leading positions within Accounting and Billing at SIX Payment Services.
Featured Image Kvistholt Photography
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