Meta Platforms Inc. – formerly known as Facebook Inc. – Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. all invest heavily in virtual environments known as the Metaverse. Those who own “real estate” or wish to start businesses related to the metaverse, just like in the real world, often need credit and financial support and advice.
The metaverse is a term that describes a version of online interaction in which traditional messages and video chats are augmented with virtual scenes and images, giving users the ability to customize online interactions.
Currently, that reality is largely contained within 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 represent an $800 billion marketing opportunity by 2024. Bloomberg predicts that the primary market for online games and gaming hardware makers could top $400 billion, with live entertainment and social media making up the remainder.
Meta is expected to invest $50 billion in its Metaverse over the next few years, developing virtual reality goggles and robotic arms to connect users in the real world with the virtual.
As the big companies build the gadgets and framework for the Metaverse, smaller companies look 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?
In contrast to a URL for less than $100 in the early days of the Internet, getting into “land” in the Metaverse can currently cost at least between $20,000 and $40,000. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners will need credit to stake their claim on this new virtual space.
Many legal questions about funding arise from the metaverse. It’s an area of law that has piqued the interest of Tom Ara, a partner at DLA Piper, who has offices in downtown and Century City.
Ara advises clients on the future of Web 3.0 or the Metaverse. The first iteration of the internet, which some of us may remember, was simple web pages and email. Web 2.0 emerged with the advent of social media.
Ara believes that the most important questions for the third age of the Internet revolve around how the metaverse will be managed and accessed.
“Zoom, Microsoft Teams, this is already a version of the metaverse,” Ara said. But as the space grows and real money is involved, problems will arise “how to legally control it”.
This needs to be a safe place for businesses and consumers.
“People will want to know if there will be a connection between the metaverses created by different companies,” Ara said. “Will you be able to carry your virtual identity across metaverses? Do headsets cross the Metaverse?”
Many of these questions remain unanswered. Ultimately, Ara remarked, “People want to be where their friends are.”
For entrepreneurs looking to establish themselves in the metaverse, it’s currently a gamble as to where their customers will be in virtual reality. But for those willing to take a little risk, there are companies willing to take it.
In January, Vancouver, British Columbia-based TerraZero Technologies Inc., which has a US subsidiary in Century City, announced that it had launched one of the first-ever “Metaverse mortgages” on an Ethereum-based Metaverse platform with one of its clients named has completed Decentralized.
How does it work? Prospective customers can go online to the TerraZero platform, explore offers and listings including lot size, location and applicable pre-built building elements in their metaverse of choice.
“We don’t lend for speculation,” Dan Reitzik, CEO and founder of TerraZero, told Business Journal. “It’s more of a small business loan.”
Reitzik explained that their first Metaverse mortgage customer told him, “I’m going to build this and this is how I’m going to make money.”
When a client signs the mortgage agreement, the land NFT (nonfungible token) is held with TerraZero as the registered owner until the loan is repaid based on the agreed terms.
TerraZero grants deployment rights to the client, allowing the client to build in the Metaverse, organize events, run digital storefronts, or host an internal corporate office. Clients make monthly payments until the mortgage is paid off, and then the NFT transfers in full
TerraZero didn’t disclose how much the customer paid for a down payment, nor the interest rate, but noted it was a two-year mortgage.
Currently, any user can connect a crypto wallet to the Decentraland app and visit the world to look for investment opportunities. The world is full of music venues, parks and casinos.
Ownership of metaverse is finite and, similar to cryptocurrencies, only so much can be spent that its scarcity has value. However, there is no limit to the number of metaverses that can be created. Both crypto and NFTs are volatile assets but have proven to be very lucrative in certain circumstances. Investors and large corporations like Nike Inc. and Sotheby’s have seen some success with NFT sales and the Metaverse.
At the moment, the Metaverse is working on cryptocurrency.
“In fact, 98% of consumers have never had a crypto wallet,” said Brandon Johnson, chief experience officer at TerraZero.
He noted that in order to encourage broader acceptance of spending money in the metaverse, there must be a way for consumers to use their regular credit cards.
“This needs to be a safe place for businesses and consumers,” Johnson said.