The Opportunities that Lie in the Metaverse

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    In this study with Visa, we explore how immersive metaverse experiences are being built and how they can unlock a new era of economic growth.

    Metaverse payments and economic opportunities
    Lindsay Lehr photo

    Lindsay Lehr

    Managing Director

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    A lot has been said about the metaverse, especially by global tech giants. As technologies such as Web 3, spatial computing, and generative artificial intelligence gain ground, they also help us envision what the metaverse can look like and how it can enhance users’ experiences across different sectors. That’s exactly what we explore in a whitepaper produced in collaboration with Visa. We also address the barriers to metaverse development, from technological to ethical challenges.

    Visa whitepaper in association with PCMI. "Unleashing the Potential of the Metaverse"

    In this article, we bring you some of the key findings of the study:

    • Metaverse, the concept
    • The technologies behind it
    • Metaverse’s barriers and opportunities

    To conduct this study, PCMI interviewed over 20 metaverse experts from around the world, Additionally, Visa conducted interviews with consumers located in the United States, Brazil and Argentina, all with varying levels of experiences with immersive digital experiences. The research took place throughout 2023.

    Metaverse: the Concept 

    The metaverse mainly refers to a collective virtual shared space. Through online multiplayer environments and augmented reality applications, we can take a glimpse at what the metaverse will look like. Through it, we imagine that we will be able to truly live in a virtual world.

    Three main principles are guiding the development of the metaverse: identity (people value their digital personas as much as their authentic selves), experience (interconnecting digital and physical identities is the main objective), and ownership (how we will be identified and interact independently of centralized controls will be crucial to the functioning of the metaverse).1

    The Technologies Making the Metaverse

    Web 3, spatial computing — the integration of virtual and augmented realities with the physical one — and generative AI are three technologies coming together to create what we imagine will be the metaverse.

    While Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 transformed how we access information and interact online, Web 3.0 aims to provide a decentralized structure that empowers users, allowing them to effectively own their data (identity, content, and assets). It will be through tokens, smart contracts, and blockchain that individuals and things will be identified and will interact across systems and applications.

    While Web 3 is the structure in which the metaverse will operate, VR, AR, and spatial computing are the technologies needed to make the virtual “more real”; that will allow users to explore, connect, and create in a virtual environment as if they were in the physical one.

    Generative AI, in turn, is what can bring more naturalness, dynamism and even the unexpected to the metaverse. In addition to what we have read in the news about great language models, such as Open AI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, or image creation tools such as Midjourney, new generations of generative AIs can accelerate the design and development of VR and AR environments. By leveraging advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques, this technology can create and adapt content in real time, meaning a truly immersive and constantly evolving experience.

    Metaverse’s Barriers and Opportunities

    If advanced technology and experimentation are the way to take virtual experiences to a whole new level, the barriers to doing so also take on another scale. Privacy and security are two of the main challenges ahead, as they are already significant unintended effects of online experiences today.

    Brands need to work just as hard to create new and increasingly immersive experiences as they do to make users feel safe — this is especially true in the payments industry and in emerging countries with high online fraud rates, as is the case of many Latin American economies.

    When it comes to opportunities, we listed three main areas where the metaverse can break paradigms. Entertainment and gaming stand out as the most promising areas within the metaverse for obvious reasons. We all expect to see physical limitations related to live performances and sports events, for example, transcended soon. Spatial computing, AR, and VR will be fundamental for this.

    Secondly, we point to something potentially revolutionary across activities, possibly a must-have feature in all marketing playbooks in the future: creating communities. Given the complex nature of information surrounding the metaverse, communities play a crucial role in knowledge sharing. Additionally, as individuals come together, they bring their unique skills, talents, and resources, which contribute to the development of new products, services, and experiences within the metaverse.

    Education is naturally the third area where we see the greatest business and technological development opportunities. More immersive experiences can bring theoretical knowledge closer to practice in cheaper and more abundant ways than the physical school environment. Also, personalized learning paths and adaptive algorithms can meet students’ individual needs, promoting a more inclusive and effective educational environment.

    As different industries explore the metaverse’s potential to build truly seamless digital interactions, tech innovators, payments companies, and policymakers must collaborate to collectively address the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

    Card networks like Visa have expanded their horizons in recent years, transforming into payments technology companies and taking their decades-long legacy of handling and ensuring fast payments into new infrastructure initiatives that facilitate the exchange of value within new digital ecosystems. Embracing the convergence of web3, spatial computing, and generative AI to build payment experiences in the metaverse is just the next step toward adding new value and bringing innovation to the digital space.

    For all payment companies, establishing partnerships in this context is not only basic but mandatory to explore the metaverse’s possibilities. No one will thrive alone.

    Visa whitepaper in association with PCMI. "Unleashing the Potential of the Metaverse"

    Next Steps

    Contact us if you’d like to develop a deeper understanding of how the metaverse will affect your business. We can offer a range of study types, including opportunity benchmarking for your company with the metaverse, market landscaping study to show the potential for your sector, and much more, all customized to your strategic business goals.

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    Lindsay Lehr
    Lindsay Lehr

    Lindsay Lehr is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of PCMI. With 15 years’ experience, Lindsay is specialized in the region of Latin America, executing over 400 consulting engagements for Fortune 500 clients in the region.