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Most major technological trends develop behind the scenes for a long time. Then, at some point, a larger-than-life personality pushes things into more of a mainstream focus. Steve Jobs did it with iPads. Elon Musk is doing it with EVs. That’s why, when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s rebrand to Meta, the world sat up and paid attention.
With a big name and a historic brand behind the metaverse, mass adoption is already accelerating. There was an immediate response from tech companies like Sandbox, which launched Sandbox Alpha — its official metaverse product — shortly after Zuckerberg’s announcement, and the doors were officially blown the movement.
Related: What’s Behind Facebook’s Rebranding? It Depends Who You Ask.
Here are three ways this suddenly relevant technology will impact the business community going forward.
1. Challenges will appear early and often
For users, the metaverse represents fun experiences and even the potential to earn financial rewards. For businesses, the metaverse as it now stands will require heavy investment and a shift in numerous modes of business.
The payout could be astronomical over time, but that doesn’t change the fact that most businesses are currently in a costly pioneering stage when it comes to the metaverse. While some of these concerns will go away over time, other challenges could remain significant for quite a while.
Jeff Wong, the Global Chief Innovation Officer at Ernst & Young is well aware of the major concerns of the metaverse, but sees it as an inevitable next step in the tech world we inhabit. The tech innovator points out that in the process of building the metaverse, early adopters will need to prepare to face the challenges of cost, regulation, supply and security.
For instance, establishing financial infrastructure and new commerce experiences open up opportunities for fraud. Hackers will be a threat at every turn. Identity theft is already a big enough issue in the real world. Its presence in the metaverse could be much harder to manage.
In addition, governance will be a hot-button issue. Jurisdiction can be difficult as international companies attempt to sign contracts and agreements in a digital-only space. This could lead to disagreements between various governments as they sort out things like content control and legal rights.
None of these have to be deal-breakers, according to Wong. However, they are all hurdles that businesses will need to surmount in the coming months and years, in much the same manner as they already have with the internet.
2. The need to invest will grow
It’s tempting for a business to see the new metaverse as a massive opportunity for easy money. After all, you don’t need to break ground on a building or invest in renting a physical space. But that doesn’t mean the metaverse will be a small investment. On the contrary, while users may be able to have free access, the threshold for businesses to “pay to play” may be much higher.
Case in point: fintech. Financial services have already begun to move toward the metaverse. Multiple firms have begun scooping up metaverse real estate in the hopes of using it to interact with a new digital audience in the future. One of these pioneering companies is Prager Metis International LLC. The New York City firm has offices across three continents, and yet still felt compelled to acquire space on the Decentraland metaverse platform.
Prager Metis’ new meta office is exciting and full of potential, but that doesn’t mean it was free. The firm dropped a sizeable $35,000 dollars on the three-story digital space. While every investment won’t be as big as Prager Metis’, it goes to show just how substantial investing in the metaverse can be for businesses who are serious about the opportunity.
3. Blockchain and cryptocurrency will become necessities
The rapid-paced growth of cryptocurrency has already felt like a roller coaster ride for many investors. And yet, it’s a pretty safe bet that the announcement of the metaverse will only keep this chaotic-yet-profitable situation rolling.
The metaverse is a digital landscape. Thus, the most natural form of currency will be digital currency. Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies are poised to answer that need with aplomb. Both existing digital tender and countless future iterations have the potential to become the driving engine behind financial interactions in the metaverse.
For businesses great and small that want to participate, this means buying into the crypto craze. It doesn’t require a full-scale commitment to the exclusion of everything else. However, it’s hard to argue with the idea that businesses that are comfortable with crypto — and blockchain as a whole — are positioning themselves to thrive in a new digital-only environment.
Related: It’s Time to Learn About Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin
The potential of the metaverse is out of this world. Businesses should be ready to invest as soon as possible as consumers begin interacting with the metaverse. However, the impact that the metaverse has on businesses won’t be all sunshine and roses. For those who are willing to put in the work and resources, the rewards will come, but that likely won’t happen until after a period of intense change.
As businesses prepare for the impact of the metaverse, they should remain open-minded and ready to adapt. This includes investing in digital real estate, adopting crypto and remaining flexible and resourceful as brands face both seen and unforeseen challenges. If a company can do these things, they can avoid the adverse effects and both survive and thrive in the new digital era ahead of us.