The metaverse could have a digital population of as many as five billion people with an economy of up to $13tn (£9.9tn) by 2030, according to US financial services firm Citi.
Speaking at a discussion on the future of the metaverse at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London, Sophia Bantanidis, head of strategy policy at Citi, explained to metaverse sceptics why the nascent technology is the next generation of the internet – and more than just virtual reality.
Citing figures from a recent Citi report of metaverse projections, Bantanidis said the “metaverse economy could be between $8trn and $13tn,” when looking at what she described as a “broad definition” of the metaverse.
The figure was determined by looking into the global GDP projections for 2030 and finding out “what percentage of the global GDP would be attributed to digital” and “how much would the metaverse penetration rate be for digital”.
In 2020, the total GDP for the entire world stood at $84.7tn.
The nature of what money is, however, is expected by Citi to be different when looking at the metaverse’s future economy and will heavily involve digital financial assets like cryptocurrencies, NFTs and other future blockchain ventures.
Citi also made clear that the digital infrastructure of the internet would have to be developed significantly before this kind of result could be seen.
We believe the Metaverse may be the next generation of the internet – combining the physical and digital world in a persistent and immersive manner – and not purely a Virtual Reality world. Read more in our latest #Citi GPS report: https://t.co/Gmz3ZK1U9K pic.twitter.com/YCVtcKhjc9
— Citi (@Citi) April 1, 2022
“In the current state, the internet infrastructure is unsuitable for building a fully immersive content streaming metaverse environment, that enables users to go seamlessly from one experience to another,” Bantanidis said.
“To make the vision of the metaverse a reality, we expect significant investment in a confluence of technology.”
Bantanidis also drew a comparison between an open metaverse and a closed metaverse.
She described the work being done by Meta – formerly Facebook – as a “centralised, governed metaverse created by a big tech company”.
On the other side of the spectrum, she described an “open metaverse built on Web3” which could be an “open, borderless” version of the technology.
Even though the metaverse is yet to be built, many companies have sought to reposition themselves as involved in this new version of the internet since Facebook rebranded last year.