It’s been long since the advent of the metaverse – a term first coined in the 1992 dystopian novel Snow Crash, the then futuristic concept of a 3-D virtual space for user interaction is now a reality, one that boasts a revenue generation potential valued at $1 trillion, according to market insights provider Grayscale.

Meta predicts that this virtual world is coming within the next ten years. The tech giant sees commerce and entertainment moving into the metaverse, and encourages businesses to build on social media platforms in preparation for it.

But what exactly is the metaverse? And how can its landscape support such enormous business growth potential?

The metaverse is an umbrella term that describes any immersive, 3-D, virtual space allowing users to play, work, connect or buy. In this simulated reality, users can connect with each other from anywhere in the world, “teleport” place to place freely, and join events and pay for virtual products and services using a digital wallet.

The ability to mesh the physical and virtual world has vast implications for business – for example, an artist holding a concert could also sell digital merchandise for users to purchase in the metaverse, and digital concert tickets so that anyone could attend virtually, while their friends are there physically.

A broad spectrum of businesses have already embraced the model, including gaming platforms such as Fortnite from Epic Games, Roblox, and Decentraland, where users can create virtual structures and charge others to visit them, through Ethereum blockchain technology.

Current uses of augmented reality (AR) allow customers to virtually move furniture into their homes to see how it looks, or try on glasses and makeup products before purchasing. Other applications include training future surgeons, and holding product demos for retail employees.

It’s clear that business has a plethora of opportunities for growth in the metaverse, and clearer still that larger companies with greater risk appetites are beginning to take action: Sportswear company Nike is already filing for patents for virtual goods and the ability to build virtual spaces to sell those goods, according to CNBC.

Although the rewards seem high, risks are in abundance as well: unpredictable user engagement, shifting values of cryptocurrency, long-term viability, and lack of regulation are all unanswered questions in the face of the metaverse.

Meta has presented a possible solution to the last problem. It establishes that the metaverse will be co-created as a global project, one leveraging the expertise of policymakers, businesses, creators, and entrepreneurs to build a framework for a space where users can safely interact.

In the transiency of the pandemic, the merging of the physical and virtual world seems already to have taken place. Business in the metaverse appears to be the next step, and along with it, potential for massive growth.

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