The metaverse is a virtual universe that lets users replicate their experiences from the real or physical world on a virtual platform by creating their avatars. The concept has been gaining traction in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on physical gatherings and meetings.
The metaverse allows people to work, shop, exercise, do business, buy land or even make art in a virtual environment.
But like every economy needs a currency, the metaverse, which is also a fully immersive virtual economy, needs a mode of payment. Since activities and interactions in the virtual world are all done through an avatar of the user, it is not possible to transact in fiat currency (traditional paper currency).
So how does one buy land or a piece of art? This is where cryptocurrencies come in.
Some metaverses already use cryptocurrency as a form of payment. The use of cryptocurrency makes all virtual transactions spontaneous, and the blockchain technology powering them makes the transactions highly secure as well as trustworthy.
Metaverse-like and blockchain-based apps such as Decentraland, Axie Infinity, and SecondLive allow users to own virtual land, play-to-earn, and experience much more.
Digital assets can be owned through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are nothing but cryptographic tokens in which the ownership details of the virtual assets are coded. An NFT could even be in the form of digital art, any in-game property, etc.
While metaverse itself is not new, Facebook's rebranding as Meta has revived interest in the concept.
A look at some of the biggest Metaverse cryptos
• Decentraland (MANA): Decentraland is a virtual reality space that allows people to buy/sell, maintain and manage virtual property called LAND. In this Metaverse, people can develop their LAND in whichever way they see fit, either through phone, laptop, or desktop.
Decentraland MANA is the native crypto of the game that one must possess and transact in to pay for goods and services that they choose to avail in the game.
MANA is based on the Ethereum blockchain and has been well received by the masses (including novice users), propelling its value by 400 percent soon after Facebook rebranded itself to Meta. This also triggered a whole new level of interest in cryptocurrency.
•The Sandbox (SAND): Sandbox is another virtual world that allows people to manage virtual land as well as other digital assets through an alternate yet native metaverse cryptocurrency called SAND. The digital experience can be easily monetised online through this cryptocurrency.
Sandbox is unique as it allows people the freedom to use SAND – be it in conceptualising their own game, using it in other games, or managing other virtual assets. SAND is powered by the Ethereum blockchain as well that makes it highly safe and secure. Moreover, SAND is backed by SoftBank through its Vision Fund, one of the most popular tech-investment names in this space.
• Star Atlas (ATLAS): Star Atlas lets people explore the virtual extra-terrestrial space wherein they can use a customised spaceship to access an incredibly unique metaverse, create their own virtual world, and create or join a faction. These in-game activities are enabled by the ATLAS Metaverse token on the Solana blockchain, which is much cheaper, faster, more secure, and even more scalable than the Ethereum blockchain.
ATLAS can also be deployed to obtain an in-game currency called POLIS, which could become an annoying aspect for some, but it also allows people to virtually live through additional experiences that become enabled through POLIS.
There are scores of other cryptos associated with multiple virtual platforms or metaverses.
Metaverse and cryptocurrencies work in close association and unlock a vast possibility of experiences that can only be lived virtually. The blockchain platform not only adds security and safety to digital transactions but also unlocks the concept of virtual ownership of assets, which was previously a less explored arena.
However, given these platforms are still in their infancy, users must tread with caution as most of them are unregulated.