Citi GPS Report: Metaverse Economy Could Be $10 Trillion Plus, Magnifying Legal and Regulatory Challenges of Web2

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LONDON–()–Citi released a new Global Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS) report titled Metaverse and Money: Decrypting the Future. Access full report here. Citi will be discussing its latest report on the Metaverse, along with the latest FinTech and digital money ecosystem developments, at its 9th Annual Digital Money Symposium in London on 31st March 2022. Register here.

“We estimate, in the report, the target addressable market (TAM) for the Metaverse economy to be in the range of $10 trillion plus,” says Ronit Ghose, Global Head of Banking, FinTech & Digital Assets, Citi Global Insights, and co-author of the report. “Expert contributors to the report indicate a range of users of up to 5 billion, depending on whether we take a broad definition (mobile phone user base) or just one billion based on a narrower definition (VR/AR device user base) — we adopt the former”.

The Metaverse may be the next generation of the internet. It would combine the physical and digital world in an immersive manner. Gaming, commerce, art, media, advertising, smart manufacturing, health care, virtual communities, social collaboration, including for enterprise and education, are among some of the likely use cases in addition to everything we use the internet for today.

In the foreseeable future, an immersive internet experience for most users will likely be accessed via their mobile phones and only a subset of the Metaverse participants will use VR devices, despite expected improvement in VR/AR usability.

However, to build an envisioned Metaverse experience, latency needs to improve and faster connectivity speeds are needed. With only 25% of the global population expected to have access to 5G by 2025, network bandwidth needs to be increased and delivered. The lags, packet drops, and network unreliability witnessed in today’s world would make the current state of the infrastructure unsuitable for an immersive Metaverse experience.

The Metaverse of the future would encompass more digitally-native tokens but traditional forms of money would also be embedded. Money in the Metaverse could exist in different forms, i.e., in-game tokens stablecoins, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and cryptocurrencies. In addition, digital assets and NFTs, in the Metaverse will enable sovereign ownership for the users/owners and are tradeable, composable, immutable, and mostly interoperable.

If most users access the Metaverse via a mobile phone, the operating system (OS) will be the same. Consumer hardware manufacturers will be portals to the Metaverse and potential gatekeepers. Similar to today, there will likely be a split between a U.S./international and a China/ firewall-based Metaverse in addition to a spectrum based on technology and business model too, i.e., Metaverse centralization versus decentralization.

Importantly, from a legal and regulatory perspective, there is a lot to work out. If the Metaverse(s) is the new iteration of the internet, it will attract great scrutiny from global regulators and policymakers. All the challenges of the Web2 internet could magnified in the Metaverse, such as content moderation, free speech, and privacy. In addition, a blockchain-based Metaverse will brush up against still evolving laws around cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi) in many jurisdictions around the world.

About Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS)

As our premier thought-leadership product, Citi Global Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS) is designed to help our clients navigate the global economy’s most demanding challenges, identify future themes and trends, and help our clients profit in a fast-changing and interconnected world. Citi GPS accesses the best elements of our global conversation and harvests the thought leadership of our research analysts and a wide range of senior professionals across our firm.

About Citi:

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi.

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