The total addressable market for the metaverse economy could grow to between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030 with five billion users worldwide, according to a new report from one of the largest financial institutions in the world, Citi.
This valuation is based on the definition of the metaverse as combining the physical and digital world in a persistent and immersive manner and not purely a virtual reality world. It is this device-agnostic vision of the metaverse – accessible via PCs, game consoles and smartphones – that results in a very large ecosystem.
Gaming first, enterprise next
The report points out that interest in the virtual world spiked at the end of 2021 following a rise in sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as well as announcements from big tech players indicating their interest and investment in the space. In other words, Facebook and its ‘on-the-nose’ rebranding to Meta.
Gaming is viewed by Citi as a key metaverse use case for the next several years due to the immersive and multi-player experience of the space currently. But the report discusses the possibility that the metaverse is moving towards becoming the next iteration of the internet, otherwise known as Web3.
Beyond gaming, Citi believes that the metaverse will eventually help users find new and enhanced ways to do all our current activities, including commerce, entertainment and media, healthcare, education and training, manufacturing and enterprise in general.
Enterprise use cases of the metaverse will likely include internal collaboration, client contact, sales and marketing, advertising, events and conference, engineering and design, and workforce training.
Open all hours
The ‘open metaverse’ that Citi envisions would be, “Community-owned, community-governed, and a freely interoperable version that ensures privacy by design”. A device-agnostic metaverse would be accessible via personal computers, game consoles, and smartphones, resulting in a large ecosystem. Using this broad definition, the total addressable market for the metaverse could be between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030, with total metaverse users numbering around five billion.
But getting to that market level is going to require infrastructure investment. The content streaming environment of the Metaverse will likely require a computational efficiency improvement of over 1,000x today’s levels. This is the figure suggested by Intel Senior vice president Raja Koduri towards the end of last year.
Investment will be needed in areas such as compute, storage, network infrastructure, consumer hardware, and game development platforms.
Finance and regulation
The definition of what counts as money in the open metaverse is also likely to be very different from what counts as money in the real world today. Interoperability and seamless exchange between underlying blockchain technology are critical to ensure a frictionless user experience. Different forms of cryptocurrency are expected to dominate, but given the multi-chain trend in the crypto ecosystem, cryptocurrency will likely coexist with fiat currencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and stablecoins.
Finally, if the metaverse is indeed the new iteration of the internet, the report finds that it will most likely attract greater scrutiny from global regulators, policymakers, and governments. Issues such as anti-money laundering rules for exchanges and wallets, the use of decentralised finance (DeFi), crypto assets, and property rights will all have to be addressed.
You can download the entire 184-page report here.