In the news: Virtual headlines in the real world

From glorified JPEGs to fashion that fits your avatar perfectly, the metaverse has it all, and will share it with you, for a price
by Sophie Mackenzie


In October, Facebook announced that it was rebranding its holding company as Meta, saying that the new brand’s “focus will be to bring the metaverse [virtual world you can immerse yourself in via headsets] to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses”. The metaverse may not exist yet, but that hasn’t stopped it from making headlines around the world in recent weeks.

Metaverse infrastructure platform Infinite Assets, otherwise known as InfiniteWorld, is set to go public, reports Brandy Betz in an article for CoinDesk. The company enables brands to monetise digital assets through the creation of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – unique pieces of digital content linked to the blockchain, which can be used to verify the authenticity of digital assets.

“The transaction will provide up to US$171m in funds, including the cash held by both companies and InfiniteWorld-owned cryptocurrencies valued at US$93m,” writes Betz. She quotes Thane Ritchie, chairman of Aries, the special purpose acquisition company that is to merge with InfiniteWorld in the deal, who said: “With up to US$15tn of wealth expected to flow into digital assets over the next ten years, we are witnessing the birth of a new global asset class and economic system.”

Virtual real estate

Despite most economic indicators having slumped over the past 12 months, house prices have remained robust, according to an IMF blog, rising by more than 5% in 23 countries. And it’s not just land in the physical world that is reportedly set to soar in value.

In a move that virtual real estate broker Metaverse Group’s CEO, Lorne Sugarman, likens to “buying on Fifth Avenue in the 1800s”, the company “made a US$2.43m purchase of parcels in Decentraland, an ethereum-based, 3D universe where some land can be monetised”, reports Carla Mozée in a Markets Insider article.

“While you might not immediately associate an age-old industry like real estate with the current technological advancement of blockchain, the potential for this industry to be modernised and made efficient is powerful – even inevitable,” writes Irina Karagyaur in a CoinDesk article. She points to a “gold rush in the metaverse” and speculates that the next generation of homeowners might invest in virtual real estate before owning a bricks-and-mortar home.

Best foot forward

As well as investing in real estate, those engaged in metaverse communities can host parties, attend live music events and buy designer clothes. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that Nike has got in on the act with the purchase of virtual trainer maker RTFKT for an undisclosed sum, according to Reuters. The article includes a statement from Nike CEO John Donahoe: “This acquisition is another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture.”

RTFKT was only founded in 2020, but its popularity rose during the NFT boom at the start of 2021. In February, it collaborated with the digital artist Fewocious to create three virtual trainer designs, priced at US$3,000, US$5,000 and US$10,000, according to a Cryptonews article, which adds that: “In total, 621 pairs were sold during one seven-minute period, netting the equivalent of US$3.1m.”

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Published: 16 Dec 2021
  • Fintech
  • Facebook
  • blockchain
  • cryptocurrency

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