WITH the tech world abuzz with chatter of the metaverse, all eyes are trained on how the fledgling technology will incorporate cryptocurrencies.
Metaverses – virtual worlds where users can work and play – from the likes of Facebook and Microsoft are in the works, but a number of rudimentary versions from other creators are already up and running with their own digital currencies.
What are metaverse cryptocurrencies?
Metaverses are sprawling universes that users access via a computer or virtual reality headset, allowing you to work and play in a fictional, digital realm.
In order to truly become fully immersive worlds with their own economies, they need a currency – and that's where crypto steps in.
Metaverse cryptocurrencies can typically only be spent in the metaverse they're tied to. You buy them through each virtual universe's in-game store.
The coins can be used to buy in-game items, such as land or items which can then be traded with other players.
Like any other crypto on the market, their values go up and down – sometimes unpredictably.
Remember, buying cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance tokens is a risky way to invest.
Investing is not a guaranteed way to make money, so make sure you know the risks and only invest what you can afford to lose.
Cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance tokens are also extremely volatile, so your cash can go down as well as up very quickly.
Some products and cryptocurrency services are very complex to understand. You should only invest in things you understand.
Top metaverse cryptocurrencies
SANS is the cryptocurrency of The Sandbox, a sort-of metaverse where people can buy and trade digital assets.
Users can create a virtual world driven by non-fungible tokens (NFT), where they can build, own, and make cash off of their virtual gaming experience.
The Sandbox is co-owned by blockchain gaming developer Animoca Brands, which is based in Hong Kong.
Its token, SAND, has a market cap of over $2billion.
Softbank – one of the world's most influential tech firms – invested $93million in the company earlier this year.
Decentraland is a blockchain-based virtual reality platform where users can purchase plots of digital real estate called "LAND".
You can later travel through, build upon, and monetize the plots you buy, according to the Decentraland Foundation, the organization behind the tech.
You buy LAND using MANA, Decentraland’s in-game cryptocurrency token.
As well as LAND, you can use the currency to pay for in-world goods and services.
Star Atlas (ATLAS)
For the sci-fi nerds among you, Star Atlas's ATLAS currency may be for you.
Star Atlas is a futuristic space exploration game where players side with factions to build civilizations and intergalactic economies.
Players can trade and create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the Star Atlas universe to make cash.
You pay for stuff using Atlas, the game's built-in cryptocurrency.
Star Atlas CEO Mike Wagner has described the game as "more complex than it sounds." That bodes well, then.
Back in 2019, Meta – then known as Facebook – launched a new project dubbed Libra: Its proposed digital coin.
The social networking giant said it wanted to create a separate, private currency system to allow users to make cross-border payments more easily.
As with other cryptocurrencies, people will be able to buy and sell Libra tokens on exchanges for traditional currencies.
Meta said that its alternative currency paves the way for smoother transactions and payments online.
The project has stalled in the years since due to threats from regulators around the world. Meta hasn't given up yet, however.
The company has said that its recently announced metaverse will embrace NFTs, paving the way for an accompanying cryptocurrency system.
What is the metaverse?
The definition of the metaverse really depends on who you ask.
According to the dictionary, it's: "A 3D virtual world, especially in an online roleplaying game."
Billionaire Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg called it "the next version of the internet".
He said: "This isn't about spending more time in screens. It's about making the time we already spend better."
Facebook has even rebranded its parent company operation as Meta, as part of its commitment to the metaverse.
Speaking to journalists including The Sun, Meta's VR boss Andrew Bosworth said: "The metaverse is a set of virtual 3D spaces where you can share immersive experiences with each other when you can't be together."
“What comes after the internet? Instead of looking at a screen, you get to be in the experiences.
“You don’t have to experience it in VR. Most people initially will experience it on screens they already have.”
If you think it all sounds very broad, you're right. It is.
The rough idea is that it's a version of the internet, but immersive – so you live inside it and interact with it.
The metaverse will have loads of experiences, including games, social networks, videos, shopping, health and fitness and more.
It already exists in some forms now – with Facebook's Oculus VR, and games like Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft.
But it's not huge in terms of scale.
Zuckerberg thinks that the true metaverse will be ready within the decade.
Aspects already exist now, and we'll see significant leaps in the next few years.
Tech giant Meta (formerly Facebook) has poured billions of dollars into building the “metaverse” already – and recently vowed to hire another 10,000 staff to work on the project.
Microsoft has also announced its intention to jump into the metaverse space.
The company described its future iteration of the tech as "a persistent digital world that is inhabited by digital twins of people, places and things".
In other news, Google Chrome users are being warned to delete the browser amid fears highly sensitive data is being harvested.
Facebook has announced that it's changing its name to "Meta".
The company is working to create lifelike avatars of its users that they can control in a virtual world called the "metaverse".
And, Apple's system that exposes creepy iPhone apps that track your location or snoop on your browsing history has finally arrived.
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