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Cryptocurrencies will be as useless in the metaverse as they are now – Financial Times

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In case you hadn’t heard, the metaverse is coming. Maybe Facebook will build part of it. Maybe it’s already here, in the form of video games such as Fortnite, digital collectibles known as non-fungible tokens and even cryptocurrencies. Maybe there will be more than one metaverse; maybe there won’t ever really be any. It’s all a bit unclear.
What is clear, however, is that we are meant to think of this amorphous metaverse as a place of infinite wonder and possibility. It is envisaged by techno-utopians as an interconnected web of virtual worlds in which our “digital twins” can wander about buying virtual art, attending virtual gigs and having virtual relationships.
“The metaverse is the new land of opportunities,” crypto investor Vignesh Sundaresan (known by his crypto name MetaKovan and for spending $69m on an NFT by the artist Beeple earlier this year) told a panel last week. “It’s not about the commerce behind it, but having a place where people from different parts of the world can . . . have an opportunity for prosperity.” 
Apparently MetaKovan has no interest in making a land-grab for this new sphere, never mind that his pseudonym might come from a partial translation from Tamil to mean “king of the metaverse” or that he might run one of the world’s biggest NFT funds.
But there is, of course, a financial incentive here: crypto enthusiasts are hoping that NFTs, which are meant to represent the ownership of digital or physical assets stored on a blockchain, will become a key component of this future world, along with the cryptocurrency used to pay for them. NFTs representing plots of virtual “land” in the metaverse have already been sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency.
One company selling such virtual goodies is Somnium Space, invested in by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s old rivals, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — these days better known for being bitcoin billionaires. After the twins tweeted about it on Tuesday, Somnium Space’s native token, “Cube”, soared in value by 260 per cent. “The race for the metaverse is on!” one brother tweeted.
He gave the game away. As far as I’m concerned, the hypocritical fantasy that underpins crypto also lies at the heart of the metaverse. This isn’t about building a decentralised paradise where everyone can prosper and live in harmony; this is about making a small group of people rich.
“The metaverse is a marketing offensive,” says Janet Murray, a professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology and author of Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. “There’s a very vague fantasy at the base of this . . . This sense that technology will magically provide this alternate thing, and there will be some way to make a lot of money out of it, because technology has provided things that we didn’t think were possible before, and people made a lot of money out of those.”
Even if the metaverse does end up becoming the future of the internet, why would we want to use crypto tokens to pay for stuff there? Surely we would prefer to use money that we can also use in the real world. After all, we might be able to buy virtual clothes in the metaverse, but we still need real ones — and to eat real food and sleep in real beds. We need real money to pay for all that.
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Using cryptocurrency means being exposed to the volatility inherent in these speculative tokens. It also means having to pay an exchange fee — the standard rate charged for exchanging fiat currency to crypto, or vice versa, is around 2.5 per cent. There is no reason to use crypto in the metaverse — the vast majority of money nowadays only exists digitally anyway. Cryptocurrencies, in other words, will have as much use as money in the metaverse as they do in the real world.
I have always suspected that one of the reasons people keep buying into crypto — which I consider akin to a Ponzi scheme — is that they don’t really understand it. In some ways, therefore, the elusive metaverse is a perfect partner. Talking up ideas that people find confusing is a great way of obfuscating things that people find objectionable, as Zuckerberg seems to have discovered. It’s also apparently a great way of making a quick buck — or much more for a privileged few.
jemima.kelly@ft.com
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Metaverse Crypto Index Fund Launched by Matthew Ball, Multicoin, and Bitwise – Decrypt

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There's a wide array of crypto builders working to bring the metaverse to life, whether it's via platforms, tools, assets, or infrastructure. Now one of the leading voices around the metaverse has launched an index fund focused on crypto assets tied to the next-generation internet.
Today, writer and venture capitalist Matthew Ball announced a partnership with Multicoin Capital and Bitwise Asset Management to launch the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index. Bitwise has also made an associated fund available to qualified purchasers.
"We developed the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index Fund because, prior to today, there was no easy, expert, and methodologically diversified way for investors to have broad-based exposure to bona fide metaverse-focused crypto assets," Ball told Decrypt.
"To this end, the Index doesn't exist to time Event A or Market Conditions B. It exists so that investors can participate in what we believe is a multi-trillion dollar transformation, which will unfold over the coming decade," he continued. "If blockchain is relevant to the future of the metaverse, and our approach is sound, we believe the opportunity is significant—today, tomorrow, next month, and so forth."
The index will feature up to 40 crypto assets chosen by the partners, but a list of included assets was not provided to Decrypt by the time of publication. Bitwise's associated fund is available to qualified purchasers with a $100,000 minimum investment.
Ball described the Ball Multicoin Bitwise Metaverse Index as a "rules-driven index that combines the best of institutional indexing approaches with special adaptations to the crypto and metaverse spaces. That includes various risk screens, such as analyzing liquidity, developer activity, tech and regulatory risk, and "relevancy to the metaverse," said Ball.
"The ultimate goal is to curate the crypto assets that will be outsized contributors to the creation and success of an open metaverse," he added.
The metaverse refers to a future version of the internet that many believe will be built on blockchain technology. It's expected to be a more immersive and interactive experience that people navigate via 3D avatars and use for work, play, shopping, and socializing. It may also use NFT assets for user-owned items like avatars, apparel, and virtual land.
Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox are seen as early examples of the metaverse.
Facebook also showcased its own vision for the space and even rebranded its parent company to Meta last fall. However, it's not entirely clear whether Facebook's plan is for an open platform that is interoperable with others.
Ball is a leading writer on the metaverse whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Economist, and Bloomberg. His book, "The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything," is due out from W.W. Norton in July.
He's also a managing partner at EpyllionCo, which has invested in crypto startups such as Dapper Labs and Mirror, as well as a venture partner at Makers Fund. Ball is also behind the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which focuses on metaverse-centric stocks and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Our objective was the creation of a diversified, balanced, and expertly-designed crypto Metaverse Index," explained Multicoin Capital co-founder and managing partner, Kyle Samani.
"This required a similarly capable team," he continued. "Matthew Ball is the definitive thought-leader in metaverse strategy and investing. We specialize in crypto assets and are one of the preeminent crypto investment firms. And Bitwise Asset Management is the proven leader in crypto indexes and index funds."

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Meta's losses show the metaverse's costly risk – Insider Intelligence

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Facebook parent Meta launches startup accelerator with India’s IT ministry in metaverse push – TechCrunch

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Meta Platforms is looking at India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem as it bolsters its bet on the metaverse. The social juggernaut has partnered with the Indian IT Ministry’s startup hub to launch an accelerator in the country to broaden innovation in emerging technologies, including augmented reality and virtual reality, officials said Tuesday.
MeitY Startup Hub and Meta’s effort, called XR Startup Program, will work with 40 early-stage startups and help them in research and development and developing workable products and services. Each startup will also receive a grant of over $25,000, the American giant said.
The program, supported by Meta’s $50 million XR Programs and Research Fund, will initially hand pick 80 startups to attend a bootcamp. It will also help startups with finding customers, inking relationships and raising funds, Meta said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said the program is especially aimed at helping encourage technology innovation in smaller cities and towns.
The XR Startup Program is the latest of Meta’s growing participation in the South Asian market’s upskilling efforts. The firm, whose Facebook and WhatsApp services identify India as their largest market by users, partnered with Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in the country, to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.
The program — to be implemented by four Indian institutions, including IIT Delhi — will also host a “grand challenge” for innovation in categories including education, healthcare, entertainment, agritech, climate action, sustainability and tourism, the American giant said.
“India will play a pivotal role in defining future technologies. Decisions and investments made here in India now shape global discussions on how technology can deliver more economic opportunity and better outcomes for people. It is critical that we help to create an ecosystem that will enable India’s tech startups and innovators to build the foundations of the metaverse,” said Joel Kaplan, VP of Global Policy at Meta, in a statement.
Meta’s interest with working with startups in India is also not newly found. The company has backed three startups in the country, including social commerce platform Meesho and online education group Unacademy.
3 views: Is the metaverse for work or play?

“India’s rapid tech adoption combined with a vast pool of tech talent puts the country in a vantage position for shaping the future of the internet,” said Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India, in a statement.
“For this future to be equitable, it will require active participation from all stakeholders, including developers, businesses, creators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. We are excited to collaborate with MeitY Startup Hub and hope that the XR Startup Program will act as a catalyst to unlock the use of immersive technology across sectors like education, healthcare, agritech and tourism, not only in India but across the globe.”

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