Investors, entrepreneurs, established tech giants, consultancies, and even governments and universities worldwide are starting to stake a claim in the metaverse, as the potential of the industry becomes clearer.
The metaverse, which refers to technologies like virtual reality and the idea that people can play and live in virtual worlds, is believed to be the next frontier in technology services and will be transformational.
According to recent Accenture research, even at the nascent stage of development, 71% of executives believe it will have a positive impact on their organisation, and 42% believe it will be transformational.
It is also expected to be lucrative. McKinsey recently released a report, Value Creation in the Metaverse, stating that in eight years the field could be valued at $5 trillion – around the same size as Japan’s economy.
Asia holds massive potential, with the metaverse expected to add US$1 trillion to the APAC economy by 2031, while Morgan Stanley analysts predict that the metaverse would be worth about US$8 trillion in China alone.
According to Accenture Thailand, the country has the potential to become a leading country in the metaverse with 72% of Thai executives believing the metaverse will have a positive impact on organisations. Country MD Patama Chantaruck told the Bangkok Post that the sectors likely to be the first to adopt the metaverse in Thailand include healthcare, banking, property, manufacturing, retail and tourism.
So, how is Asia getting in on the metaverse action? From government investments to big tech launches, we outline 10 recent initiatives in the region.
1. South Korea government invests US$177.1m in metaverse
Investment in the metaverse to date has been predominantly a private sector and big tech-focused initiative, but South Korea is changing that, becoming one of the first national governments to invest in the metaverse. Calling the metaverse “an unchartered digital continent with indefinite potential”, Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hyesook said the government was earmarking US$1.77.1m as part of its Digital New Deal, a program for investing in new technologies in the country’s economy.
2. Alibaba leads US$60m investment round into AR glasses maker Nreal
Following on from its announcement to launch AR glasses for virtual meetings this year, China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba has led a US$60m investment round into AR glasses maker Nreal. AR is seen as a key technology for the metaverse, and the Beijing-headquartered startup delivers two products that access AR applications, from games to movies, with its products currently available in South Korea, Japan, Spain and the US.
3. Asia HR tech leader unveils Thailand’s first metaverse job fair
GetLinks, an HR tech leader in Asia, will launch Thailand’s first Metaverse Job Fair. A hybrid event, the job fair is designed to create fresh tech talent opportunities for tech employment in a new hybrid and immersive experience and further reinforce Thaildn’s digital economy. The event serves as a platform for “tech employers to meet with prospective tech talents”, says Pichaya Srifar, CTO of GetLinks, and will “serve as a change in people’s working style in the post-pandemic period”.
4. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng stock index launches metaverse index
The owner of Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng stock index recently launched a new indices for the metaverse. The Hang Seng China Metaverse Index includes virtual reality (VR), gaming and other digital experiences that use advanced technology in virtual spaces. Hang Seng Indexes says the metaverse “has captured the attention of people around the3 world” and relevant companies are growing quickly in popularity as investment themes among investors.
5. Meta empowers Singapore with first regional immersive learning academy
Singapore will become the first country in the region to launch the Meta Immersive Learning Academy, an educational programme for creators to deepen their skills and capabilities in augmented and virtual reality. This initiative forms part of Upskill, a wider training initiative by Facebook’s parent company Meta to strengthen digital capabilities in Singapore’s talent pool and enterprises. Launched in 2021, Upskill has already benefited more than 3,600 individuals and 300 SMEs. The new metaverse-focused academy will deliver four programmes from June 2022 and will help to spearhead the next generation of creators to earn the necessary certifications to build a career in AR and VR. T
6. PwC Hong Kong joins the metaverse on The Sandbox
Consulting giant PwC Hong Kong has purchased a piece of land in The Sandbox, one of several virtual worlds, for US$10,000, becoming the first member of an internationally recognised professional services firm to publicly enter The Sandbox. William Gee, Partner at PwC Hong Kong said: “The metaverse offers new possibilities for organisations to create value through innovative business models, as well as introducing new ways to engage with their customers and communities. We will leverage our expertise to advise clients who wish to embrace the metaverse on the full range of challenges presented by this emerging global digital phenomenon.”
7. Meta and Yahoo using Hong Kong to tech metaverse tech
First, Meta announced it is rolling out a series of new metaverse initiatives in Hong Kong, then Yahoo said it plans to do the same, enabling Hong Kongers to better understand metaverse’s potential across industries. Meta’s plan for Hong Kong includes VR experiences and exhibitions at local cafes and public spaces, while AR training workshops will be created for educators and secondary school students. Testing of digital collectibles will also start with Hong Kong creators who will be able to share their own NFTs on Instagram, a state from Meta read. Meanwhile, Yahoo is set to hold virtual concerts and exhibitions on the Decentraland platform, as it explores the use immersive advertising technologies. These concerts and exhibitions will feature local idol groups and artists.