Understanding the Metaverse

The Metaverse has been a popular topic of discussion of late, and although most of us have heard of it, many of us are still not completely sure what it is and to what extent it’s going to change the way we work, learn and socialise.

In his 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse”, in which he imagined lifelike avatars meeting in realistic 3D buildings and other virtual reality scenarios.

The Metaverse has come a long way since then and its uses have expanded beyond entertainment to traditional sectors, despite its origins in gaming and social media.

Facebook – Meta as the company is now called – has hired 10,000 of the brightest and best and is investing billions in this concept of interacting as avatars in a virtual universe.

We tried to answer three simple questions to help our clients to better understand what it’s all about:

What is the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is the next step from the internet. It’s not a picture or a video: it’s an experience. You’re not looking at a picture of the villa you’re thinking of renting for your holiday. You’re not even looking at a video. You’re inside it. You’re able to walk around it, walk down the road to the taverna and the beach.

The Metaverse will be a network of interconnected 3D worlds that will have what’s called ‘an individual sense of presence’ (your avatar) and ‘continuity of data’. That means if your avatar spends some of its virtual currency in the taverna, it’s going to have less to spend in the shop next door.

What will you be able to do in the Metaverse?

According to advocates of the Metaverse, almost anything. The Metaverse will allow you to create a completely digital life where you’ll be able to socialise, work, learn, go shopping and be entertained.

You will also be able to create wealth in the Metaverse. As well as selling services – training would be a good example of that – you’ll be able to build wealth by ‘owning and trading property’.

So yes, we will one day read a story about a teenage millionaire who has never left his bedroom in real life – but who owns virtual property worth millions.

How will it impact businesses and consumers?

It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the Metaverse could have profound implications for business.

The travel industry is one obvious example: as we have outlined above, the traditional brochure (online or in paper form) will become irrelevant. Disney has already announced that it will create its own Metaverse.

In a broader business sense, the Metaverse will give companies the chance to host ‘live’ events – which would clearly be more cost-effective than real events – and extend the scope of training, masterclasses and panel discussions. The possibilities for recruitment and training are also obvious.

Does that mean financial advisers will one day be able to see clients virtually? Unquestionably. Businesses will have a virtual office, staffed by the avatars of real members of staff: Clients’ avatars will be able to visit.

Facebook does warn though that a fully functioning Metaverse is still some way off – so for now, you’re welcome to visit us at the office. You will be welcomed by our advisors in the flesh and offered a real cup of coffee!