Metaverse 2.0: AI, Interoperability, and the Path Ahead

Metaverse 2.0: AI, Interoperability, and the Path Ahead

The panel is moderated by David Palmer, Blockchain Lead at Vodafone. Leon Lanen, COO of Bit Hotel – Blockchain Game, Lukasz Plewa, Head of Blockchain and Economy at DRKVRS, and Nicolas Benhamou Lacalle, Founder & CCO of Algoritcom provide insights from their experiences working on metaverse in gaming and business retail.

What Is the Metaverse?

Both Nicolas and Leon mention that the metaverse is a virtual space where people can work, socialize, interact, and basically do anything that we normally do in our daily lives. It’s important to point out that people are able to participate in the metaverse from different mediums, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), or even mobile phones. Lukasz concludes by saying that people often portray the metaverse as the movie “Ready Player One,” but he thinks the metaverse is simply another medium that allows people to interact with one another.

What Impact Will Metaverse Have?

David shares that McKinsey’s report, released in January 2023, stated that the Metaverse has the potential to become an over $5 trillion economy by 2030. Leon believes that the gaming industry will be the main driver that attracts users to socialize in the virtual worlds, while Lukasz envisions an interoperable digital world in which people can exchange assets and play different games seamlessly. 

From the retail perspective, Nicolas shares that the metaverse will give businesses new opportunities to build communities around their brands, and they can even integrate gaming into their business to create an innovative experience.

Participants tried out the VR device at the Algoritcom stand at EBC23.

What Needs To Be Improved?

Lukasz thinks that it’s important for users to be able to access the metaverse from different devices despite the slightly different user experiences. Leon agrees with that, saying that the VR or AR devices on the market now are expensive, and thus are not really helping with mass adoption. He believes that there will be new gadgets, such as Neuralink chips, coming out and making the immersive experience more accessible. 

Apart from improving access to the metaverse, Nicolas also acknowledges the importance of education. He thinks people nowadays are intimidated by the word “Metaverse,” and thus helping people understand the virtual world is essential.

What is the Future of Metaverse?

Leon and Lukasz both believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will play a significant role in the metaverse, particularly in creating generative art, storylines for the games, or non-player characters (NPCs) that can engage with users, and provide compelling instructions or conversations. They predict that AI will be used to create more natural and dynamic responses than the current decision-tree-based answers used in existing games.

We will have different interoperable metaverses. Lukasz states that users should be able to participate in the metaverse that they are interested in, no matter whether it’s a virtual shopping center, a game, or a fantasy world, and they should be able to seamlessly jump from one to another. Leon believes that having interoperable decentralized digital identities will thus be critical.

Panelists Lukasz and Nicolas shared their insights on metaverse adoption and education.

Leon and Lukasz both believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will play a significant role in the metaverse, particularly in creating generative art, storylines for the games, or non-player characters (NPCs) that can engage with users, and provide compelling instructions or conversations. They predict that AI will be used to create more natural and dynamic responses than the current decision-tree-based answers used in existing games.

In the coming months, Lukasz expects that companies working on metaverses will learn from their previous projects and create better products with different approaches. Leon thinks that there will be many new releases of metaverse worlds, games, and upgrades in technology. While he doesn’t expect a fully-fledged metaverse reality, he does believe that we will be inching closer to it, and the exact expression of it will become clearer over the next two years.

We are on an evolutionary journey, not a revolutionary journey, in my view. I’m just excited to see each aspect of that evolution!

David Palmer, Blockchain Lead at Vodafone

Watch the full panel to learn about the future of metaverse!

Exploring Web3 Opportunities From the VC Perspectives

Web3 - Where Is the Opportunity in 2023

This Web3 panel was moderated by Joseph Hall, Reporter at Cointelegraph. Panelists included Cathy He, Investment Associate at NGC Ventures, and Jingwei Li, VC Investor at Fidelity International Strategic Ventures.

Joseph, drawing an analogy, described Web3 as a high-tech hipster neighborhood within the vast city of the internet. It represents a decentralized and interconnected digital economy where applications and platforms seamlessly interact and transact. Individuals can become their own banks and transact without intermediaries.

Experts from Fidelity and NGC Ventures expressed their optimism about Web3’s opportunities in 2023.

Web3 Opportunities in 2023

Representing Fidelity, Jingwei shared that his company has been making investments in the space, particularly in crypto custodianship. He also highlighted their interest in investing in the underlying technology that enables institutional investors to enter digital asset markets. 

Cathy, on the other hand, shared that NGC Ventures has been actively investing in the Web3 and crypto space. She emphasized the power of self-custodianship and the idea that individuals can safeguard their funds without relying on traditional banks. 

Looking forward to 2023, NGC Ventures is exploring opportunities in modular blockchains and technological advancements within Web3. Cathy states that modular blockchains are an opportunity to push the boundaries of the scalability trilemma, making blockchain technology faster, cheaper, and more decentralized. 

Watch the EBC interview highlight with Cathy He to learn about the VC perspectives of the crypto industry!
Jingwei from Fidelity International Strategic Ventures shared his opinion on Web3’s opportunities and challenges.

What Are the Challenges in the Coming Years?

Regulatory scrutiny, in Cathy’s point of view, might create short-term challenges but is expected to lead to a better-regulated environment in the long run. The panelists expressed optimism about MiCA’s open-minded approach to Web3 and its potential for growth.

Jingwei has been following closely the inflow of funds into Web3 projects. He shared that while there has been a positive trend in recent months, there is still a need for greater institutional adoption and inflow of funds into digital asset products.

More EBC insights on MiCA, DeFi, and crypto:

Watch the full panel to discover more Web3 opportunities from the VC perspective!

Crypto Funding in 2023: VC Perspectives and Advice for Startups

The moderator for this VC funding panel discussion is James Ryan, VP of Marketing of GammaX. Panelists include Sarah Gottwald, Managing Director of Blockchain Founders Group (BFG), Chia Jeng Yang, Investor at Pantera Capital, Pierre Chuzeville, Investor at Lattice Fund, and Alexis Kricorian, Director of Digital Corporate Finance at NodeGate.

Will Investor Sentiment Improve or Deteriorate in 2023?

Pierre thinks that this year is going to be tough for crypto companies to raise funds. Alexis also acknowledges the difficulty due to macroeconomic factors and the industry crisis. He believes that as builders create more real-world asset-based blockchain technology and investors shift towards long-term opportunities, the situation might improve. 

Sarah also agrees that VCs might be more hesitant to invest this year. As a startup, it’s thus important to reach out to several investors. However, she believes that there is still a lot of money in the market, and at some point, people will start investing again, potentially in crypto and Web3. Therefore, surviving the next few months is crucial for startups to have a chance at funding in the future.

The audience attentively listens to the panel discussion on crypto predictions at EBC23.

What Specific Areas Will Potentially Grow in the Crypto Space?

Chia Jeng states that there is a huge opportunity to take down incumbent players in the crypto space, as many have suffered losses and are not in the best position to continue being market leaders. 

Sarah and James both think that regenerative finance (Refi) space, particularly the carbon market, is an emerging area where startups can combine people’s desire for financial gains with a positive impact on the environment. Pierre, on the other hand, acknowledges the growing importance of on-chain carbon credits, but he thinks there is more that can be done with blockchain technology to fight climate change.

Chia Jeng, Pierre, and Alexis shared their insights at EBC23.

How Can Young Companies Get VC Funding?

Alexis thinks that the first step is to accept the difficulty in raising capital, and then focus on identifying the market and executing the plan for user adoption and returns, exploring different types of investors, getting creative in funding options, and reducing cash burn to extend the runway.

For Sarah, adaptability and flexibility are keys for startups to survive. In her opinion, young companies should be able to pivot quickly based on market feedback. Pierre thinks that founders should build things that matter and people want to use. Traction is often tiny even for top protocols, so identifying what the space needs to move forward is important.

Sarah and Pierre both value the team the most in early-stage startups, followed by the product and the timing to enter the market. They believe that building something innovative with real modes against potential competitors is essential in the crypto space.

Speaking about preparing oneself to kickstart a career in Web3 and crypto, James advises young people to be willing to do whatever is asked of them, be flexible, and be team players with a diverse set of skills to make themselves useful to a young company. Alexis encourages young people to follow their passions and not be afraid to try different things, even if it means taking a different path than the safe one.

Watch the whole panel and understand what VC pays attention to when it comes to selecting startups in Web3!

Significance of Privacy in Web3: Restore Trust and Navigate Data Ownership

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Bryn Bennet, Co-Founder of Secret Agency DAO, moderated this privacy panel. Oskars Jepsis, CEO & Co-Founder of ALTER Network, Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies, and Fraser Edwards, CEO of cheqd, provided their insights.

Why Is Privacy Important?

Fraser believes privacy is essential in Web3 because current practices of putting personal information on ledgers can make it easy for others to trace someone’s behavior on-chain, potentially leading to negative consequences such as theft or loss of privacy. 

Jaya agrees by pointing out the irony in Web3 nowadays. She thinks Web3 aims to solve many problems in Web2, but she argues that there’s an even more urgent need to address the privacy concerns in Web3.

Oskars believes it’s necessary to give users a chance to choose whether to disclose certain information publicly. In his opinion, Web3 should allow users to have control over their data and monetize it, while also preventing unwanted tracking and data exploitation by third parties. 

“Most people want to know what to use and they want to protect their privacy. It’s just about making that information easily available and easily accessible to people.”
– Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Balance Privacy and Surveillance

Fraser thinks that emphasizing the importance of privacy doesn’t mean that users are not disclosing any personal data, but having the choice to reveal certain information when necessary. He believes that we should go for the minimum disclosure, facilitated by self-sovereign identity (SSI) or decentralized IDs, and only reveal what is actually needed.

Agreeing with Fraser, Jaya thinks privacy and surveillance are not black and white. It includes a really complex field of actors, so she believes the key is to identify what data is visible to whom under what conditions. 

Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs, in her point of view, can be an innovative tool to achieve this balance. She is convinced that adding more privacy to the internet will also make it easier and less burdensome for companies. Privacy by default reduces the need to deal with sensitive data and compliance issues.

EBC23 panelists discussing the importance of privacy in Web3.

Simple Access and Education Are Key

Fraser and Oskars discuss the importance of an easy user interface and user experience (UI/UX) in Web3. Oskars mentions the potential use of picture-based encryption for wallet access while Fraser notes that simplicity and ease of implementation are key factors in encouraging the adoption of privacy solutions by developers and users.

Privacy is The Future of Web3

Fraser mentions a significant narrative shift in the Web3 space, where there has been an increased focus on topics like privacy, data ownership, and trust, as opposed to the previous emphasis on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Jaya also believes that privacy will be a significant theme in the coming years, with increasing awareness of its relationship to security, value, and data leaks. 

Watch the full panel discussion to understand why privacy is the future of the internet!

Metaverse Unveiled: Hidden Truths Beyond the Hype

The passionate debate between Jemima, Robby, and Leo about the metaverse and its impact at EBC23

Jemima Kelly from the Financial Times shares her skepticism about the metaverse and questions whether it is just another buzzword. Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands, and Leo Khan, CEO of the Undeads Metaverse, debate the metaverse’s definition, potential, and social impact.

The Metaverse Is About Openness and Interoperability

Robby states that the Metaverse is a messy and chaotic landscape of interconnected digital content. It’s evolving into a 3D experience where users can bring their digital assets across different applications and platforms. Robby and Leo both agree that Web3 is the metaverse, as it can be understood as the aggregate of the software applications that interoperate.

Robby also points out that metaverse can be accessed through various devices and platforms, not just virtual reality (VR). However, despite the device, openness, inclusiveness, interconnectedness, and interoperability are the key value that the metaverse brings to society. Blockchains are the fundamental infrastructure that makes this possible.

While some existing games may resemble elements of the metaverse, Robby points out that they typically operate as closed systems without the ability to easily transfer assets or data between them. These, in his opinion, are still Web2 games, rather than a metaverse.

Leo thinks that metaverse will provide more immersive options for people to connect. It is an evolution of how technology changes the way we interact, similar to how social media changed communication. He believes that this is what future generations will be using to communicate.

Watch the EBC interview to learn more about gaming, NFTs, and metaverse from Robby Yung!

Decentralized Ownership and Privacy Are Not Mutually Exclusive

After Jemima expresses her concerns about privacy on a public ledger, Leo points out that Web3 represents the next frontier in technology with better privacy and ownership. Robby agrees by saying that one of the primary reasons for adopting decentralized ownership, in fact, is to improve privacy concerns.

In the gaming industry, many gamers have experienced losing value or points when game developers make changes without player input. Blockchain technology enables players to have a say in the rules. This creates a fairer gaming ecosystem, Robby asserts.

The panel “The Impact of The Metaverse on Society” at the EBC23.

Audience Size Is Not The Most Important Thing

When questioned about the market need and user number of metaverse gaming, Robby points out that audience size is not as important in Web3 as in Web2. Due to the difference in monetization, the metrics should be reevaluated in the context of Web3.

He further explains that in Web2 games, the revenue is typically generated from a small percentage of paying users, but in Web3 games, smaller players may monetize at a higher rate. The generated revenue may be enough to support the game developers.

More EBC insights on Metaverse and Web3 gaming:

Building Metaverse and Games Is a Long-term Effort

Robby points out that people often overlook the time and effort needed to build a game. The process takes a lot of time due to the need for innovation and problem-solving, especially when dealing with emerging technologies. Popular games in the space now, such as The SandBox, were being developed since 2017.

The most popular games in Web3 now, most of them began development in 2017/2018. We started the development of our Sandbox product in 2017. It takes a long time to make great games, particularly when you’re using new technologies where you have to really innovate and problem-solve because nobody’s ever made games with these kinds of tools before.

Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands
Watch the full debate at the 8th European Blockchain Convention to discover the Metaverse from different angles!