In this day and age, companies are faced with a multitude of options when it comes to the online space. Most companies have an online presence with websites, e-commerce platforms and the like. But when it comes to the metaverse, terms like blockchain, web3.0 and NFTs are quickly becoming buzzwords. “Blockchain is becoming the new norm, and people need to embrace it. NFTs are becoming part and parcel of the metaverse paradigm, and companies need to understand that a lot of investment need
eeds to be made in this area,” said Anne Yeung, founder and director of OneChain Agency in Hong Kong, Asia’s first blockchain-based creative agency. At the moment, NFTs are currently used by luxury brands in Hong Kong to create exclusivity through collectibles and also for specific marketing campaigns, she added. Yeung’s business has a proprietary private chain with tailor-made blockchain solutions that bring faster transactions and higher efficiency for brands in the metaverse. The business handles creative concepts, storytelling and roadmap design of the non-fungible token (NFT) community for brands. Essentially, a one-stop-centre for NFT branding and marketing, OneChain Agency is a niche operator in Hong Kong. NFT everything? Metaverse strategist Akina Ho, on the other hand, has a different view on the NFT craze right now. “I don’t believe we should be ‘NFT’ everything now, just because it’s the hot new thing on the market,” she said. Ho believes most NFT campaigns are mere marketing campaigns with little utility. Brands like Zara and Forever21 sell avatars for under $10 and it’s mostly a novelty purchase, she said. These avatars are not interoperable in different ecosystems and Ho believes that the whole NFT space is very ‘gimmicky’. “It’s almost like people are doing NFTs for the sake of NFTs, and there is little business value,” she said. Ho holds more promise for blockchain, which is the underlying fabric of the Web 3.0 infrastructure, and what will underpin most of our current technology going forward. “There is more value in blockchain for companies to provide transparency and credibility in global supply chains in order to assure customers of their standards,” she noted. For example, diamond retailers use blockchain to ensure none of their suppliers use conflict diamonds or slave labour in their overall operations. “Businesses the world over have been affected by the pandemic, and are also experiencing a multitude of problems that range from supply chain issues to rising costs and inflationary pressures. Do we really need to ‘NFT’ everything?” she asked. Ultimately, companies that have a focus on sustainability, environmental social governance (ESG) and transparency will find ways to make blockchain and NFTs a vital component of their corporate goals. The promise of accessibility In the art scene, blockchain and NFTs can also make the marketplace a lot more accessible to the masses. Buyers could own a fraction of real art pieces, like a Picasso for instance, in the metaverse. Lux Creative Hong Kong Limited’s Board Director, Queenie Mo, believes the young generation could be shopping exclusively in the metaverse in the coming years. “Blockchain technologies are all about transparency and openness, and once the smart contracts that dictate these transactions are all operational, purchases can be done from all around the world from the comfort of your home in a safe and secure manner,” she explained. NFTs are also making a big impact in the startup space and are often being used as vehicles for charitable endeavours. Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide’s co-founder, Ines Gafsi, is a big proponent of NFTs in this area. “I’ve seen photographers who have started NFT movements for their community in order to raise funds for charities, and I feel more of us need to educate the community on the way NFTs can be a vehicle for good and celebrate charitable causes through the sales of NFTs for certain campaigns,” she said. The next generation Generation Alpha will be the main driving force behind companies getting into the blockchain, web 3.0 and NFT spheres. Apollo42’s CEO, Daniil Mazurin thinks this generation values companies that resonate with their own beliefs and worldview. His company is in the B2B space and has collaborated with Japanese advertising agency, Dentsu, to produce campaigns for its brands in the metaverse. “Brands are building communities to create value and providing utility in the metaverse, and this really excites me,” he said. Apollo42 is marketed as the future of the NFT marketplace. It’s a platform which offers a one-stop solution for marketers.It makes it easy for marketers to host NFTs with social features, augmented reality (AR) elements, a metaverse gallery, and launchpad that can be operated with no prior coding knowledge. Inspired by a futuristic space theme, Apollo42 Metaverse Gallery is a place for customers to enjoy virtual experiences from buying and selling NFTs in the virtual space to checking crypto prices and watching podcasts with other users. The way forward The future of the blockchain, web 3.0, NFT and metaverse are inextricably linked in terms of its educational aspect. Generation Alpha, the most digital savvy target market, is going to be the real driving force behind the adoption rates of these new technologies and companies will be well served to acknowledge this simple fact. Most experts agree that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to play a big role in the development of avatars for individual users in the metaverse. The main challenge right now is that these metaverses are being built individually and are not interoperable by nature. Ideally all these metaverses should be able to interact with each other to create an “umbrella metaverse” that allows everyone to interact with each other in a transparent and open manner. That’s still a long way off, but the potential is there. Digital transformation and going online is here to stay. It’s going to be up to the brands, companies and organisations to realise that they need to start investing in blockchain, web 3.0, NFTs and the metaverse as a whole to ensure they have a place at the table. It’s a bold new world, and as they say, fortune favours the brave.