• Hardly a day goes by without a well-known company announcing that it is moving into the metaverse
• Customer advice in the virtual parallel world Decentraland
• The hype around the metaverse is reflected in the prices
JPMorgan became the first bank to acquire land in Decentraland, one of the most popular metaverses, and opened the “Onyx” lounge. The JPMorgan subsidiary Onyx, responsible for the development of blockchain projects and its own digital currency JPM Coin, gave its name to the show. It is located in Metajuku, a virtual version of Tokyo’s Harajuku shopping district. YouTube videos provide a virtual tour of the show: there you’ll encounter a tiger in the entrance area and stand in front of a digital portrait of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. In the upper part of the Onyx Lounge, one can then follow presentations on crypto-currencies by JPMorgan executives. In the future, the American banking giant also wants to offer banking services such as credit and rental agreements in the parallel world in the virtual banking branch.
Opportunities in the Metaverse
In the strategic document “Opportunities in the Metaverse”, JPMorgan highlights the importance of the Metaverse for all sectors of the economy and the sales potential of up to 1,000 billion dollars. With Decentraland, the major American bank relies on a platform built on the Ethereum blockchain, which is very advanced compared to its competitors. Unlike existing parallel worlds, such as 2010s Second Life, almost everything in Decentraland is a non-fungible token (NFT). Lots and artworks on virtual gallery walls can be purchased as NFTs. In this way, users acquire both tradable NFTs and co-management rights and can have a say in the design of the virtual world. Payment is made in Decentraland’s cryptocurrency, MANA. The MANA token, like the entire crypto market, has developed strongly positively and the value has multiplied. In the current ranking by market capitalization, Decentraland ranks 37th with US$3.415 billion (as of March 15, 2022).
Not a day goes by without a major company announcing that it is entering the Metaverse, reads the introduction of the JPMorgan report as an argument for the Metaverse strategy and as evidence of the massive acceptance of the Metaverse . Samsung, for example, opened a virtual version of the New York flagship store in Decentraland with the Samsung 837X. Well-known brands such as sporting goods manufacturer adidas have virtual branches in other worlds of the Metaverse and sell products there that have a real-world equivalent.
The hype surrounding the Metaverse is also reflected in the prices: While Decentraland’s virtual properties cost US$20 in its early beta phase, digital real estate prices have skyrocketed over the past two years. With the NFT boom, land prices have doubled from $6,000 to $12,000 in 6 months in 2021, according to the JPMorgan report. The boom peaked in the last quarter of 2021 so far, with Facebook announcing that it is renaming itself Meta and focusing on building a metaverse.
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Future with need for optimization
In their article on the possibilities of the Metaverse, the American bankers critically subsume the not fully developed technical and infrastructural environment in Decentraland and contrast hype with reality. The user experience and business infrastructure need to be significantly improved in order to make the metaverse even more attractive. Moreover, the key areas of engagement, community building, self-expression and commerce are far from mature enough for businesses and investors to work together in a vibrant ecosystem. Still euphoric, the report concludes: The US bank could reach Metaverse users in its core competency areas, cross-border payments, currency trading and financial investments, on a different level. JPMorgan is constantly striving to innovate and improve the organization of financial transactions on the decentralized web.