Metaverse, NFTs and virtual real estate taking off in APAC

Study from BrokerChooser uses Google searches to analyse metaverse FAQs and identifies Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong as most engaged countries

Companies and individuals are spending small fortunes in the metaverse – a network of virtual worlds that combine virtual and augmented reality. There is little doubt it is one of the hot trends of 2022, but do investors really understand what they are getting themselves into?

Recent analysis of basic Google search data by international broker comparison site BrokerChooser provides some interesting insight – not least that people in Asia-Pacific appear most interested in the metaverse.

Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong took the top three positions when it came to metaverse-related Google searches per million population.

And the most commonly asked search terms include the obvious ‘What is the metaverse?’ on pole position but entrepreneurial enquiries taking the next two slots – ‘How to invest in the metaverse?’ and ‘How to buy real estate in the metaverse?’.

“The recent success stories in the NFT space brought a lot of speculative interest to the metaverse platforms, but this time it’s about real estate. I don’t think it’s a fad, metaverse real estates have even more utility (rent out, build on it, use it for virtual gatherings, etc) than art or fashion NFTs,” says Tamas Muller, Growth Manager at BrokerChooser.

“We are still early in the whole metaverse development, it’s hard to know for sure if we’ll have only a handful of popular digital worlds or we will have thousands of smaller metaverse islands. The direction of this will decide the scarcity of digital real estates and hence their future value.

“But if the metaverse real estate stays with us for long, it’s quite sure we’ll also see the rise of businesses and ecosystems building on top of it, like the emerging virtual real estate companies.”

Singapore tops global Google metaverse searches

BrokerChooser took Google searches for the term ‘metaverse’ in each country and measured them against the population, thereby calculating the number of metaverse searches per million people. Here are the top 3 globally:

1. Singapore
3,166 searches per million people

The country that is seemingly embracing the metaverse most is Singapore. Authorities in the Lion City have recently cautioned residents about investing in NFTs and metaverse land, although it is clearly thriving.

Another recent development in the city state is that the sons of two prominent businessmen (financier Peter Lim’s son Kiat Lim and Elroy Cheo of the family behind Mewah International Inc) have started a private NFT-based social networking app, ARC, that they hope will evolve into an exclusive metaverse. Membership to ARC would involve holding one of the startup’s NFTs.

2. New Zealand
3,147 searches per million people

Narrowly behind Singapore in second place with 3,147 searches per million people is New Zealand. A number of Kiwi companies are already moving to jump on the potential of the metaverse, such as the Fluf World NFT collection.

3. Hong Kong
2,272 searches per million people

The Sandbox, one of the major metaverse platforms, is currently building ‘Mega City’, a new cultural hub based in Hong Kong, receiving investment from local businessman Adrian Cheng, actor Stephen Fung, and companies such as PwC Hong Kong.

Trending topics show explosion in metaverse Google searches

Unsurprisingly, Google searches for metaverse terms have rocketed since the metaverse became part of the public consciousness – and not least since Facebook changed its name to Meta.

Microsoft has also invested a staggering US$70bn – its biggest deal ever – to acquire the video game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard.

Google may have had its fingers burned with the comparative failure of its AR glasses back in 2014, but only a fool would bet against Google making the most of the metaverse opportunity – plus it has set aside US$40m in a private equity fund just for metaverse projects. Project Iris is rumoured to be Google’s latest attempt at AR, with glasses rumoured to be shipped in 2024. Watch this space.

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