Money in the Metaverse: The Money-verse

While cryptocurrencies are fungible, meaning that any two tokens are interchangeable, NFTs are not, allowing any item created, purchased, or sold online to exist as a unique entry on the blockchain where ownership is verified.

Mark Zuckerberg hopes that by the end of the decade, billions of people will have joined his version. Platforms like Axie Infinity envision a “future where work and play merge.” Businesses betting on the concept hope to incorporate everyday life into the Metaverse, a world of virtual reality hubs where users interact with virtual environments using smartphones and visors. Following Facebook’s rebranding to “Meta” in October, the term “Metaverse” has gained a lot of traction online. As more money pours in, the chances of the metaverse becoming an even more influential platform increase.

The financial implications of the Metaverse remain unknown, as does what will drive the potential trillion-dollar online economy. The answer can be found in blockchain technology, with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum serving as the currency used to purchase the Metaverse’s digital assets in the form of NFTs.

The Virtual Economy

People can—and do—purchase virtual analogs to nearly anything that can be purchased in the physical world using NFTs, from a designer handbag for an avatar to a plot of virtual real estate. During this year’s Australian Open, the Australian Open is selling “Art Ball” NFTs—digital collectibles designed by artists and linked to winning shots in the tournament—and Dolce & Gabbana sold a collection of virtual-only designs mixed with real-world pieces as NFTs in September.

While cryptocurrencies are fungible, meaning that any two tokens are interchangeable, NFTs are not, allowing any item created, purchased, or sold online to exist as a unique entry on the blockchain where ownership is verified. These NFTs can be traded on online exchanges such as OpenSea, which had total sales of more than $5 billion in January alone.

The virtual world Second Life demonstrates how large a virtual world economy could become if widespread adoption occurs. The platform, which was founded in 2003, has 200,000 daily users and a $600 million annual GDP from 345 million annual transactions. If Zuckerberg achieves his goal of one billion Meta users by the end of the decade, the economic impact could be enormous, potentially reaching trillions of dollars per year.

To realize the full potential of the Metaverse economy or money verse, users must be able to convert their assets online back to fiat currency, such as the US dollar. Tilia Pay, a hybrid of PayPal and Coinbase, allows Second Life users to convert the virtual currency to US dollars.


In recent years, videogame developers such as Epic have included collectibles within their games, such as outfits and accessories, that users can buy for their characters. Gamers have been spending large sums of money online in order to stand out from their peers. NFTs have been incorporated as a form of currency in Ubisoft’s games. Ubisoft’s newest release, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, includes ‘Digit’ NFTs—collectibles that can be used by a user’s character in-game. Digits are either given to players at random in “drops” or earned through a play-to-earn system.

The—Wolf Enhanced Helmet A—requires 600 hours of gameplay to redeem and will most likely fetch a high price on the resale market. This play-to-earn format may be the future of many games, as it incentivizes players to either spend a lot of time playing to earn the rewards they want or spend money in the virtual economy to get them.

Last year, secondary sales of NFTs found in blockchain games accounted for 20% of total NFT sales. With over $3.6 billion in NFT sales, Axie Infinity is currently the most prominent play-to-earn game. Many professional players in the Philippines play it because it is more lucrative than local employment. According to the game’s FAQ, “we believe in a future where work and play merge.” We believe in empowering our players and providing economic opportunities for them.”


As the currency continues to flow into and out of the Metaverse, a new economy based on cryptocurrencies and NFTs will emerge. Given the potential size and scope of a Metaverse economy with widespread adoption, Zuckerberg’s decision to rebrand Facebook as Meta is understandable. Similarly, it is not surprising to see an increasing number of companies investing in the Metaverse—the sky is truly the limit for this new virtual world. Businesses looking to expand may want to consider entering the Metaverse to stay ahead of the competition. Early adopters can reach a new generation of virtual consumers before the competition, allowing them to establish a foothold in the virtual economy.

Businesses that establish a virtual presence may be able to improve their margins while expanding their customer base due to lower overhead for a virtual storefront and low production costs for virtual goods.

Risks to Business and the Law

The rate of adoption is breathtaking, far outpacing traditional legal approaches’ ability to keep up. The risks are significant. Disgruntled customers, as we previously stated, are a business risk. The legal risks are also significant. Wash trading is common in many NFT markets because NFTs are classified as property rather than securities. Other legal risks associated with NFTs and tokens include securities and copyright. Traditional real estate is governed by the state, local, and federal laws. In the metaverse, there is no comparable framework for real estate transactions.


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