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By Robert Baggs
18/01/2022
Could the Metaverse Be the Great Global Financial Equalizer?
Could the Metaverse Be the Great Global Financial Equalizer?

This universe is a swirling chaos of destruction and politics. But there was a brief time — I think it was somewhere in the early Noughties — where the internet was a safe haven. We had Flash games, MSN Messenger, and eBaum’s World. Then, slowly enough that we didn’t notice, the chaos seeped in through the gaps. The destruction and politics and toxicity — all of it — absorbed into the excitement and rotted it. We were farmed like aphids, data extracted and fed back to us as ads.

For years it has got worse, and I have felt increasingly jaded with the internet, social media, and technology. I wished for a do-over, but it was a silly wish; if you could press rewind and then play again, nothing would change, even with the knowledge we have now. What we needed was something new.

In 2017 I hadn’t heard of the term blockchain and then I heard it three times in as many days. I looked it up but barely understood what it meant, and I certainly didn’t initially foresee its widespread application, much less its value. By the time Bitcoin had started gaining noteworthy momentum, I had made the connection between blockchain technology and gaming, and it was a glass of icy water to the face. My general malaise was lifted long enough for me to research the subject with vigor and that energy never dissipated. I was — and still am — addicted to the potential, and it seems as if every month, I uncover more ways to mainline that excitement over said potential.

There is one thread of belief in blockchain that I find myself drawn back to regularly. When I first wondered it, I wrote it down in my notepad and scoffed at myself; it was too farfetched, too bohemian. That thought — exactly as I wrote it down in the autumn of 2020 — is this article’s title, and since it leapt into my head, it has never fully left. Perhaps confirmation bias has gripped me, and I have unconsciously sought any evidence to support the thesis, but the evidence is piling up, and it’s about time I formalized the notion.

Play to Earn and Developing Nations

In the autumn of 2020, I read an article by CoinDesk columnist, Leah Callon-Butler titled, “The NFT Game That Makes Cents for Filipinos During COVID”. The story told is that of a Filipino community north of Manila and how the global pandemic had taken an already under-privileged place and put them in an impossible position. With restrictions in place, many could not work and therefore could not afford to pay their bills or buy the essentials. However, after a chance encounter with a video explaining how Play to Earn works, one citizen tried their hand at Axie Infinity and learned they could make roughly the same income as a full-time job.

The word spread and before long, everybody from children through to the elderly members of this community were playing a blockchain game. Playing a computer game was quite literally putting food on tables in this small town. This warming story, which was turned into a documentary, isn’t alone. In fact, crypto as a whole has resulted in something rather special. The populace of poorer countries may not have had bank accounts, but they had mobile phones. Suddenly, tens of millions of people had access to a revenue stream and the potential to earn a living wage just playing computer games. Africa is a prime example of this, with crypto adoption surging around the continent. The ease and low-cost of sending, receiving, and exchanging crypto currencies have been attractive too.

The concept of financially empowering poorer nations with access to myriad crypto revenue streams is of great importance, but it’s too easy to have your eyes drawn to the extremes of the issue. While Play to Earn games feeding people who may have otherwise struggled to eat is an unexpected and significant victory, the story doesn’t end there.

There has been a tiresome and most ineffectual struggle to induct developing nations into traditional banking systems. However, as it turns out, banking for the unbanked may rather ironically not be “banking” at all, but a modern alternative to it: crypto. Without getting too political, many developing nations struggle with their population not trusting those in power, and so putting all your money anywhere near them is unsettling. The decentralized heart of crypto overcomes this problem.

Crypto wallets alone would have never been enough, I wouldn’t have thought. What was needed was income that had to be housed and Play to Earn games were the first step on that journey, but they are far from the only step.

The Creator Economy Versus Poverty

The internet brought about a curious and positive change to the working world. Where incomes were more or less exclusively dictated by national and regional averages until the advent of the modern internet, now there were opportunities for people to make money from anywhere.

What made this so powerful is that, finally, citizens of developing nations could access income above the local going rates for available work, and sometimes significantly so. This influx of money into far-flung economies can have lasting effects. I am a long way from an economist, but you needn’t be to see that new, remote opportunities to bring in far better wages than local jobs can offer is a good thing. This redistribution of wealth also incentivizes the learning of skills that open those sorts of doors, like coding.

While an excellent start, this simply has not gone far enough. After all, not all of us are destined to be coders, myself included. Whatever one’s aspirations and affinities, there needed to be inclusive and widespread opportunities to monetize them. This is where blockchain technology will take the reins.

The metaverse is a global opportunity for anyone with an internet connection to attain an income from their passions. Whether you build (d)apps, create art or music, or make content, the metaverse ought to level the playing field. Gone are the days of rockers having to move to Memphis, or artists to Paris; we are approaching a time where you are not held back by your geography.

Not only will people in developing nations have access to a fair and sufficient income, but they may be able to attain it by doing what they love, whatever that may be. This is why we at MyMetaverse are zealots of the metaverse. It may seem bohemian or utopian, but in front of us is the potential to have it all. It won’t be without its challenges, but you only need as yourself: can the world do better? I wouldn’t trust anyone who said no to that — we can always improve the state of living. It just so happens that blockchain gaming and the metaverse may be the unlikely holder of the keys for the next major step.

We are idealistic about the metaverse and its chances of being the great global financial equalizer, yes. But when better to be idealistic than at the birth of a revolution?

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