The world of the Metaverse, blockchain, and NFTs is constantly moving with new and interesting things happening around the clock.
AIBC brings you this handy monthly roundup of the most important and ground-breaking news from the Web3 landscape.
This month South Korea has committed a sizeable chunk of money to creating a national Metaverse project. It’s a good time to do so, since prices of NFT land have skyrocketed in 2021 and are expected to keep doing so this year.
Meanwhile, JP Morgan has become the first bank to open a virtual branch in Decentraland while Tools of Rock, the NFT company and art collection, has opened the world’s first permanent Metaverse concert venue in The Sandbox.
In NFT news, the Murals to the Metaverse project, by six Californian street artists, has discovered a great new use for the tokens: preserving street art from oblivion by making
KMPG is the latest big name to purchase an NFT. In February, they acquired a piece from the World of Women collection for a cool 25 ETH.
Not all news in the NFT space is good however: trading platform OpenSea is experiencing a downturn in trading volume following a couple of incidents that have damaged its reputation.
South Korea Will Invest $187 Million in a National Metaverse Project
The 20th century was one of the national cars, but will the 21st be the century of the national Metaverses?
South Korea seems to think so.
The country’s ministry of ICT, Science, and Future Planning has pledged 223.7 billion won (around $186.7 million) to create a Metaverse ecosystem with the goal of supporting the growth of digital content and corporate growth in South Korea.
In an official statement published last week, the Ministry said the funds will be spent on completing four major objectives in creating an all-encompassing Metaverse titled “Expanded Virtual World.”
This platform should allow for expanding the virtual industrial growth of cities, education, and media.
As part of the initiative, content creators will get support on multiple fronts to attract the right kind of talent to help build the Metaverse platform. A developer contest and a hackathon are also planned.
“It is important to create a world-class metaverse ecosystem as the starting point to intensively foster a new hyper-connected industry,” said Park Yungyu, head of communication at the Ministry.
The Metaverse platform is part of a broader push for the “Digital New Deal” in South Korea which is a set of policies aimed at fostering the growth of digital technologies.
In addition to all this, the government agency expects this Metaverse to have a global reach since there will be seamless access to south Korean companies. It also plans to provide support for business growth by offering financial support and technological development.
Tech industry insiders are saying this funding is a positive signal and shows that the Korean government is interested in Metaverse.
“Outstanding companies building a digital economy in the metaverse will be able to thrive with the Korean government’s support,” concluded Jason Ye, co-founder of blockchain ecosystem accelerator DeSpread.
Prices of Virtual Land NFTS Have Skyrocketed in 2021 but Is This Good for Metaverse?
According to reports coming from the media, the virtual land market in the “big four” Metaverses (Decentraland, Somnium Space, Cryptovoxels, and The Sandbox) has exceeded €440 million in 2021. This figure is projected to double this year.
The Sandbox is the Metaverse that saw the largest NFT virtual land sale last year. A plot sold for a staggering €3.8 million this last December.
As the concept of Metaverse exploded last year during the Covid pandemic, many high-profile brands, companies, and celebrities have purchased virtual land to use for various projects.
Some Metaverse project founders are cautious, however. Artur Sychov, CEO and founder of Somnium Space, decried the influx of financial speculation into the Metaverse.
“There is a lot of hype and there are a lot of, unfortunately, players in the market which try to take advantage of people,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t understand why they’re buying and they’re trying to speculate on it, which is an absolute no go and they should never do that”.
Sychov further explains that all this may be causing a bubble.
“It creates this kind of bubbly thing where people say, ‘Oh my god, OK, there’s an ability to earn some money and I will buy this [land] parcel. Whatever that parcel is, I would never even build [on it or] take care of it. I’ll just buy it and hope that I will sell it later for a higher price,” he explained.
In the beginning, before Mark Zuckerberg pushed the Metaverse hype into overdrive when he announced his company is rebranding to Meta and will pursue this tech as the main objective, NFT land was meant to allow creators and users more engagement with the virtual worlds they inhabit.
For now, however, it seems that speculators are winning. But, if it is any consolation for the rest of us, there are ways to rent virtual NFT land and fractionalization is in the works too which will eventually enable a Metaverse land parcel to be owned by more than one person.
JP Morgan Is Now the First Bank in the Metaverse Where People Can Shop With Crypto and NFTS
JP Morgan has become the first bank to have a significant presence in Metaverse with the opening of the Onyx Lounge in Decentraland.
Within the lounge, visitors can buy virtual plots of land, and make other cryptocurrency purchases. Before users enter the lounge, they are greeted by a tiger and an avatar of JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon.
“The Metaverse will likely infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years, with the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion in yearly revenues,” said a report the bank has released alongside with the unveiling of the virtual lounge.
The bank has said they plan to play a major role in Metaverse and that it could help with issues such as fraud prevention and account verification.
“This democratic ownership economy coupled with the possibility of interoperability, could unlock immense economic opportunities, whereby digital goods and services are no longer captive to a singular gaming platform or brand,” the JP Morgan report states.
A Cool New Use for NFTs: Preserving Street Art
As NFT art rises in popularity, new uses for it are being discovered. Murals to the Metaverse is a collection, by six street artists, that lives on the blockchain.
Before that, these were real murals on the fifth floor of Oakland, California’s most iconic building – The Tribute Tower.
All the murals were scanned into 3D models and then enhanced using augmented reality. For the next two weeks, the artist group led people through the exhibition space, on an immersive tour.
But the most interesting thing comes after this. After only a few months, all the murals were destroyed. Not without being turned into NFTs, however.
Now on the blockchain, art can live forever. It’s an interesting project that highlights the ephemerality of street art. Many murals fade, get painted over, or torn down.
“Buildings can crumble, weather can cause damage, and developments can impede views,” explains artist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith, aka Wolfe Pack, who led the project. “By scanning a mural and turning it into an NFT, we forever immortalize the art.”
NFT art has definitely opened up new possibilities for artists, especially around getting compensated for their work. And many expect that as people buy real-estate in the form of virtual land, artists may be commissioned to make them prettier.
But the Murals to the Metaverse project has pointed to a new and interesting use for NFTs which is to actually preserve for posterity the kinds of art, such as street murals or installations, that have an inherently short life span in the real world.
Former the Bachelor Star Launches First Metaverse Concert Arena in The Sandbox
Popular Metaverse platform The Sandbox is now richer for one more type of experience it can offer, thanks to former the Bachelor star JJ Lane. Leading onto the Web3 evolution and Metaverse becoming an increasing trend lately, we will see how many users this will attract.
Lane is also the founder of the Tools of Rock NFT music platform, which launched its NFT art collection in August of 2021 and has since seen exponential growth as a company.
For the concert venue, the company has partnered with Lorretta Chen and Ruel Sarmiento, founders of the Smobler Studio, a digital agency and design studio.
While there have already been several concerts in the Metaverse (such as the Travis Scott one in Fortnite), this is the world’s first dedicated venue for music events.
“What we have seen in the last two years with COVID-19 is that tour revenue, once a staple for artists, is not certain any longer…But the TOR concert venue will never close! A venue that’s open globally, 24/7/365, has minimal overhead, and allows the fan unparalleled access to their favorite artists is what will make the Metaverse so powerful for all participants, Lane explains about the vision behind the project.”
It remains to be seen which starts will be attracted to this concept, but the digital venue has also promised a range of “green room” features to entice them to engage with the Web3 world.
Canada Branch of KPMG Follows up Bitcoin Buy With Purchase of World of Women NFT
KPMG, one of the “Big Four” auditing and consultancy houses, has purchased the Woman #2681 NFT from the World of Women collection.
The blue-skinned female avatar sold for 25 WETH (around $75,000) and was then transferred to a separate wallet. The company has also revealed it owns the kpmgca.eth domain, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain that makes wallet addresses easier to use.
This acquisition of a piece of NFT art comes after the audit company has announced it had added Ether and Bitcoin to its balance sheet in February of this year.
KMPG said the reason behind these purchases was to be able to better advise clients looking to enter the [cryptocurrency, NFT, and Metaverse] space.
“NFTs unlock a new channel for organizations to engage with their customers, while also underpinning innovation through the secure digitization of assets,” Benjie Thomas, managing partner at KPMG in Canada, said in a press release. “Having now gone through the process, we are well-positioned to guide our clients around building a corporate NFT strategy, including acquiring and safeguarding NFTs.”
As for World of Women, it’s a NFT art collection that has had a supercharged flight to the top of the NFT charts, touting an 8.5 ETH (some $24,000) floor price on OpenSea. Famous actress Reese Whitherspoon is in on it, with her media company Hello Sunshine partnering with the project in February.
KPMG isn’t the first finance heavyweight to jump into the NFT waters. In 2021, Visa made headlines after purchasing a CryptoPunk NFT for $150,000.
Trading Volume on NFT Marketplace OpenSea Falls as a Result of Recent Attacks
Over the past weeks, trading volume across OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, has been in a downtrend. This is according to information from the data analysis company DappRadar.
In the past 30 days, DappRadar data reveals that trading volume has fallen by 10.02%.
These are better numbers than late February when compared to January 25 the volume on February 25 was down more than 46%
Experts consider the downturn to be a result of recent incidents on the platform.
In January, due to an issue with the user interface, some users were able to purchase NFTs below their actual price. According to details released by the company, an issue would arise when users create listings for their NFTs and then transfer those NFTs to a different wallet without canceling the listing.
OpenSea is not able to cancel the listing on behalf of the users, OpenSea explained at the time.
Tackling the issue, the platform released a smart contract update in late February requiring all users to move their listings to Ethereum to the new smart contract.
Then, however, it seems the company fell victim to a phishing attack.
Company representatives stated that the affected users (around 17 of them) have at some point approved the malicious smart contract.