What is the metaverse, what are its use cases, and why it is here to stay

by Marla Dukharan (originally published November 8, 2022)

Almost on a daily basis I am referred to as ‘boomer’ by my children, both of whom are teenagers with the now typical preference for tech-enabled life, which was probably inevitable but no doubt accelerated by the pandemic. And for dinosaurs like me — late 40s, professional, employee more than entrepreneur — dabbling in, or worse yet making pronouncements on things like the metaverse, NFTs, Web3 etc, is not just embarrassing for my children but makes for rather awkward dinner party conversation; “Daahlinnngg I heard you’re having some sort of…conference…in the metaverse?? WHY?? How can I get in? Download ? What do you mean avatar? OH! Can you make mine look young and slim?” I have great news — your avatar can look like anything you want — no Botox or BBL necessary! And you can meet me (well, my avatar) in the metaverse (if you want to) before and during the event on November 18th, to chat and shake hands virtually. We can even go for a walk!

As to why — well, in 2019 I was slated to speak at Bretton Woods, but bad weather = cancelled flights. When I asked repeatedly to deliver my presentation remotely, the answer was patently no. We don’t do that. In 2019!? Also, a particular Chairman comes to mind, who insisted that Directors attend ALL quarterly Board meetings in person. Then came the pandemic. Necessity didn’t give birth to any inventions then — just a major change in mindset and behaviour (finally!) precipitated by the inability of the dinosaurs of my generation (and above) to resist the inevitable any longer. We had to succumb, even if kicking and screaming. Now on the eve of 2023, we love to hate online meetings, and we are all Zoomed out and want to fly out.

With its potential to generate up to USD5 trillion in value by 2030, the But what of those instances where online collaboration is unavoidable or even optimal? For sure my annual delivery of the Caribbean Economic Outlook has always been online even before the pandemic, because it is optimal for this particular event. And my team and I don’t do sub-optimal. But because everyone is Zoomed out, we knew we had to do better this year.

The metaverse emerged optimal for many reasons, some of which are outlined in a . To be sure, the metaverse is not likely to solve all our meeting and collaborating needs, just like Zoom et al didn’t. Most of us prefer face to face, but when that’s not possible or optimal, meeting in the metaverse is by far the most friendly, immersive, enjoyable, flexible, and option. Beyond these compelling truths, we’d prefer not to devolve or become extinct, but to embrace an industry that is blossoming, having attracted over in 2022. Imagine, more than 15% of corporate revenue is expected to come from the metaverse in the next 5 years according to 25 senior executives, and more than 79% of metaverse users have already made purchases there according to McKinsey. Over was purchased in the metaverse so far, there are over 400 million metaverse monthly active users, 51% of the metaverse userbase is 13 or younger, and by 2026 one quarter of us will spend an hour or more in the metaverse each day. Last year Christie’s auctioned the first digital-only artwork for USD69.4 million with 22 million people from 11 different countries, in the metaverse.

The early metaverse adopters and the biggest winners thus far have been creatives and gamers, including digital fashion designers such as . But it doesn’t stop there. On November 18th, you will witness s first ever performance in the Metaverse and you will see and hear from other early adopters who are actively using the metaverse in their business, to learn first-hand how this technology has enabled their growth. You will also hear about the financial and legal considerations of doing business in the metaverse and get insights from the IDB’s research team on technology and development. Most importantly, you will get to test it out for yourself — we will ease you in with training wheels and give you the chance to explore at your leisure. Only a computer and internet connection is required — no Virtual Reality headset or any special equipment needed. Purchase your ticket at marladukharan.com/metaverse and on November 18, you will become the one at the office (and at dinner parties!) who understands this inevitable trend.



Economist and leading advisor on the Caribbean

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