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Money in the Metaverse

Azeem Azhar

Fintech expert Ronit Ghose argues that the metaverse will be as transformative as the arrival of e-commerce and explains how money will function in this new world.

AZEEM AZHAR: Hello and welcome to Exponential View with me Azeem Azhar. Now the world is changing at an amazing pace. We’re entering the exponential age. It’s a fundamental rewriting of our economic and social order catalyzed by radical remarkable technologies. Now on this podcast, I want to bring some clarity to the complexity of this change by helping you understand the trajectories of these technologies and their implications for business economics and our daily life. Now, the metaverse has burst into the imagination and the corporate strategy of many companies around the world. The technology firms in particular are casting around for the next dominant computing platform. The one that follows a smartphone and they seem to think the metaverse will be it. Now, many questions remain about the shape of the metaverse, the applications that will succeed in it, how we will use it, will we even live in it? But one thing seems clear. The metaverse will bring with it, some aspects of a modern financialized economy. The intersection between Web3 technologies, digital currencies, nonfungible tokens, and these new electronic environments is getting stronger and stronger. But what will it mean? So, an old friend of mine – old in the sense I’ve known him for a while, but young at heart – and scintillatingly brilliant, has been a previous guest on this podcast, but he has spent much of 2022 asking the question, what will money mean in this metaverse future? He’s well placed whilst this question for more than two decades, he’s analyzed the traditional finance industry, and now runs the Future of Finance Institute at Citi. It’s a global bank. Ronit Ghose, welcome back to Exponential View.

RONIT GHOSE: Thanks for having me, Azeem. Thanks for inviting me on to talk about the metaverse.

AZEEM AZHAR: When you came on the podcast back in 2019 to talk about the future of finance, we had a fantastic discussion about the way that traditional finance was changing. But we barely mentioned Blockchain and Bitcoin. And here we are three years later and there’s of full report, not just on cryptocurrencies, but cryptocurrencies in the metaverse. What changed and why did it change so quickly?

RONIT GHOSE: So, there’s, two separate things happening here, which overlap. One is the metaverse and the other is Blockchain technologies. Blockchain technologies came to the four, five, six years ago. In fact, there was a whole phase when a lot of corporate executives would go around saying Blockchain, not Bitcoin, because particularly in the early days of Bitcoin… so, obviously Bitcoin ’08, ’09 is the start. The first, say, half a dozen years, Bitcoin is seen as somewhat peripheral, sketchy, illegal in many ways. So, corporate executives would talk about Blockchain. We like the technology, not Bitcoin. Now, there was a lot happening around 2016. And at the same time, there’s obviously a large amount of speculative interest in Bitcoin in 2017. When I came on your show in ’19, we were in a sort of a Blockchain Bitcoin, winter. Those early attempts at doing something in the corporate space… I fizzled out, I hadn’t achieved real fruition. Also, the Bitcoin price had collapsed. The token price had collapsed. And so that’s why we probably didn’t talk much about it in 2019. Now what’s happened subsequently is we’ve had particularly a cultural and social mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies in many part out the world. It’s been kind of revival, both in terms of the amount of dollars involved that you’ve let the Tam around decentralized cryptocurrencies, a couple of trillion dollars. It’s big. Couple of trillion is the size of the stock market. And one of the larger economies in the world, once you get past the US or China. So, it’s a lot of money involved, but think more than that, the cultural power and the social relevance of this spreads across all of society.

AZEEM AZHAR: A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a former banker who had now set up a hedge fund. And he said to me, there was a moment in the bank where to want to be involved in cryptocurrencies was career suicide. And then a few weeks later to not be involved in cryptocurrencies was career suicide. Now you know the banking industry better than almost anyone else in the world, is that reflective of your experience of the shift in kind of traditional finance and how traditional bankers are thinking about this?

RONIT GHOSE: There’s definitely been a shift in the last twelve to eighteen months in how traditional bankers and corporate execs are thinking about it, about crypto and Blockchain. There’re several layers to. One is philosophical, but is also very simple, legal and regulatory reason. There’s regulation in all industries. There’s health and safety and food. But banking relies on regulation almost in a uniquely comprehensive way. And in many parts of the world, the regulators have been either hostile or cautious towards cryptocurrencies. So, it would’ve been very brave for a commercial banker in particular to say, I’m all in on cryptocurrencies. Now, what’s happened in the last twelve, twenty-four months is we’re beginning. It’s still early, but we’re beginning to get more clarity on the rules. Like here in the UAE, there’s much more emerging clarity, the same down the road in Bahrain or in Singapore, the UK is talking about this. The US is talking about this. But we still got ways to go. And until we get further regulated clarity in the US and the UK, most bankers will remain cautious.

AZEEM AZHAR: I just came back from Miami and Bitcoin 2022 was on. And of course, it’s a group of really pretty fervent believers. And so the conversations that you hear in the elevators are quite something. It is the conversations of billions and trillions rather than of millions or product market fit or the types of things. As an entrepreneur, I was used to talking about. So, there is still a pretty broad gap right between these worlds.

RONIT GHOSE: There is. But then, if we think about those billions and trillions that are being discussed in elevators, the more capital markets part of banking. Dollar signs start flicking up when people start talking about billions of particularly trillions. And don’t forget before the capital markets’ industry got regulators, it is today to go back to the 1990s, when you and I left college. There were a lot of degens that go into crypto. Their kindred spirits were in the capital markets. The folks that came up with mortgage back securities, and then more content of crypto, you could read across the derivatives. And it’s no surprise there are of people are leaving big, what’s called Tradify Institutions and going into crypto, because the folks that went into capital markets, because they saw a profit opportunity, plus excitement. For them, there’s a natural read across to crypto plus there’s this new frontier… So, people looking for those trillions of dollars of revenue opportunity or profit opportunity combined with something on the frontier, get attached to crypto. A friend of mine described it to me as say, crypto is like, you take the worst bits of technology and the worst bits of wall street, and you put it together. And the matter was actually, if I just segued there was also described to me by Jamie Burke of Outlier Ventures said, the metaverse is a contact language between technology, finance, and culture. And I think for a lot of us, including myself, that’s why it’s so interesting as a topic because, it’s bringing together a lot of things that I’m naturally interested in. Finance, technology and culture. And it’s very hard to do that package. Normally we live in these silos, right? The kind of arts versus science, tech versus finance, culture versus finance. And the metaverse just mashes everything together in this amazing kaleidoscope way.

AZEEM AZHAR: But we also don’t know what it’s going to look like. Right? We don’t really know what it is. We’ve got some science fiction that can inspire us. We’ve got some learnings from the internet. Moving from this decentralized network through to something that’s increasingly clumped in large continents, around big tech companies. And we’ve got a lot of experimentation happening, both in terms of generating content using AI, through to new devices, augmented reality and extended reality systems. And then of course, it’s tremendous wave of metaverse slash crypto Web3 innovation. Which frankly to me is a surprise, right? If you’d asked me that question five years ago, like where will metaverse emerge? I wouldn’t have said, it’s going to emerge from crypto. It’s quite chaotic. It’s quite unclear to what the parts and patterns are. So, in a sense, it’s quite surprising that you would dedicate kind of research into where this economy might go.

RONIT GHOSE: So, there is absolutely a part of the metaverse, which is all about decentralization. And with decentralization, the monetary infrastructure of decentralization in a digital context is cryptocurrencies. So, there’s that part. And that’s often called the open metaverse or let’s call it the decentralized metaverse to make it less value laden, because sometimes people say open versus closed metaverse, which obviously is quite loaded term. So, if I had to use decentralized versus centralized, rather than open versus closed. Now the centralized metaverse could exist completely without crypto or Blockchain. And the centralized meta versus obviously what’s captured mass market attention around October of last year.

AZEEM AZHAR: That’s because Facebook announced its name change. And to your point about the centralized metaverse, who of course had second life, right. From Linden Labs, fifteen, sixteen years ago. And it had its own internal economy based around Linden dollars and used to have the sale of real estate. Anshe Chung became a millionaire because there’s a Linden dollar to US dollar exchange possibility. And there was an economist called Edward Castronova, right? Who talked about synthetic economies back in 2003, 2004, 2005. As we started to look at things like World of Warcraft and Ever Crest. Where people were working in these virtual worlds and then selling their virtual goods… So, teens would golf and work and earn powerful swords, that they would then sell on eBay to old blokes like me and you, who didn’t have the skills, but we wanted to power up. So, we’ve seen these virtual economies emerge. And I think at last year, the GDP of Second Life, which is quite a small place, a hundred thousand active users, was more than 600 million dollars. So, we’ve got some experience so far, right. And of this centralized model, but that’s not really what we think of as a metaverse today.

RONIT GHOSE: So, you could think about it as a proto-metaverse. So, these antecedents of the metaverse that we are heading towards. So, the metaverse can be thought about a shared space, an immersive space, a persistent space that we access through the internet. And clearly what’s happened in the last fifteen years is, our technologies have improved significantly. Whether it’s internet capabilities, we’ve got 5G now. So, we can do things in VR or in 3D, without VR headsets, that we couldn’t do ten, fifteen years ago. So, there are a lot of these kind of antecedents – so, you could say, Second Life, Minecraft, and Roblox. My youngest boy, spends hours on Minecraft to the extent that when I was playing around as part of my research last few months, on these new virtual lands, these 3D virtual the lands, the first time I did one, I was struggling to navigate… I was literally unable to walk up the ramp to get into the room. And then next day out of embarrassment, I asked my seven year old to come and help me. And he got on my keyboard and is very quickly navigated his way. I said, “how’d you do that”? He goes, “dad, it’s the same as Minecraft”. It’s exactly the same keyboard shortcut. And, Minecraft isn’t the metaverse. It’s kind of a proto-metaverse. So, that’s why a lot of people think that the gamers of the younger generation growing up now, they’re just going to take this so much more naturally because a lot of people say, my God, this is like, you’re on your phone all the time, Ronit. Now this is going to be worse. You’re going to be on a 3D phone or something. And I think about it is, it’s not that we’re replacing physical with virtual. For me, the metaverse is the meshing of physical and virtual.

AZEEM AZHAR: In your [inaudible 00:13:44] metaverse and money, you go look at this nascent platform and you make some assumptions about how big you think this could end up being. And of course the number is significant because if it’s not big, no one’s interested. And you give us a range eight to 13 trillion dollars per annum, within around about a decade. So, is this banker turn startup entrepreneur with the business model that just says this is going to be huge? Or is there some methodology behind that we should understand?

RONIT GHOSE: There is a methodology behind it. Let me explain what the methodology is for the folks who haven’t read the report. The first screen we use is to say, how big is the digital economy relative to the broader economy? And then the second screen we use is how big is the metaverse economy relative to the digital economy. So, it’s two simple factors. And so we take factor A, the digital economy. We use the assumption that the digital economy, we 20% to 25% of global GDP by 2030. Now, I don’t believe that’s an unrealistic estimate, because if you define digital as not just an information, communication technology, but the spillover of digital into automobile or our kitchen media education. It’s completely a reasonable, it could be even higher than 20%, 25%. We kind of pegged it an [inaudible 00:15:13] economic study. The consultancy firm, which we quote in the report, they said by 2025, it’ll be 24%. Remember the global economy’s massive. By 2030, it’s estimated to be about 130 trillion dollars. So just massive.

AZEEM AZHAR: Right? That’s in GDP, right.

RONIT GHOSE: That’s in GDP, so gross value add GDP. Now the second factor, then this is the more complicated one. And this is one where we hopefully, we’ve discussing this for months to come and I’m expecting people to give me more pushback than I’ve had so far. So, we said in our report, the metaverse is going to be one-third of the digital economy in 2030. Now, how do we get to that number? One third seems kind of some too big, not too small, but there was a bit of science in it… We looked at the growth of mobile phones, smartphones and said seven years after the iPhone, smartphones or one third of all mobile phones. So the iPhone was its like technological revolution, right? We all got a computer in our hands and we are saying, this is the next phase of the internet economy. So, first phase, you call a Web1, whatever is desktop, I read. Web2 read and write. And Web2 often and goes with a smartphone. So, Facebook on your smartphone, WhatsApp, et cetera. Now phase three or Web3s read, write own, so that’s where the Blockchain comes in. And the counterpart is we think the metaverse.

AZEEM AZHAR: What are the activities that will generate this seven to $10 trillion annually? How do you think those will pan out?

RONIT GHOSE: The short answer is like everything has a metaverse angle or metaverse implication. Social, enterprise, health, education, everything, media, fashion. Everything is going to be in some way it’s only a hundred percent 3D or a hundred percent VR, a hundred percent metaverse but there’ll be some element of it in the mix that’ll be 3D or VR.

AZEEM AZHAR: One of the key aspects of the metaverse is that, it’s also centered around our identities through an avatar, right? In some shape or form. And then the question is, will there be multiple avatars. But let’s just make it simple. There’s a single avatar, which is also our identity. It makes sense that would be connected to my existing payment mechanism right. In the way that I use Apple Pay to pay for my parking now. And so is that one possibility as we think about how the metaverse economy develops.

RONIT GHOSE: Totally. And so let’s go back to the definition they used before of a centralized versus the decentralized metaverse. So, the decentralized where crypto comes in, so, the centralized metaverse, who are the gatekeepers. What’s our portal to the centralized metaverse? I think for a lot of us, it might be good old iPhone. They will be the gateway. Obviously, Meta platforms hopes to be the gateway. I assume in China, it’ll be someone like a Tencent or others. In Korea, Naver and equivalence. And if we use their consumer hardware device, be it a phone or a VR headset or AR headset, we’ll probably live in their world. Like we live in the iOS world or the Google Android world. So, the operating system centralized metaverse may not be very different to the internet we live in today. So, in the centralized world, existing payment rails will continue. It could be the credit card. In some European countries account to account, bank account to account payments. The challenge is we access the centralized metaverses through country specific platforms. But the real vision of the utopian vision is a borderless global metaverse, and that’s why the narrative of the appeal of the decentralized metaverse picks up. And that’s in a way incremental, but the centralized meta versus, if you don’t have a metaverse strategy and you are a tech platform or a social media platform or a luxury goods’ company, or a consumer BTC platform, in five to seven years, this could be a significant or more as the move to e-commerce world 20 odd years ago. That’s the kind of muscle memory I think a lot of corporate executives have, because they were probably in their twenties when this happened.

AZEEM AZHAR: But the original internet that happened onto in 1991, we didn’t have discussions of money. And when that Sting album, Ten Summoner’s Tales, was sold over the internet in ’94, and it was the first thing paid for over the internet as well, we didn’t have a discussion about needing an internet money. I mean, there were attempts through cyber gold and so on to do that. But the original internet was decentralized. And actually, we were perfectly fine using these gateways to offline payments, right? That’s what PayPal did and connected us to Visa and Mastercard and so on. Why are we, in this new decentralized world of the proposed open metaverse, having a discussion about money.

RONIT GHOSE: In the original internet, you did end up using the existing payment rails or the likes of PayPal got spun up a few years later. But that was the product of a failure. I think Mark Andreessen talked about this and written about this extensively. When he was building and others like him, in the early 1990s software browsers and so on. They were looking to create a proto Bitcoin. They wanted to. So, they went and spoke to the Visa Mastercard of the world and said, “Hey, can we embed money into the code”? And they were looked at as people with horns on their head or something like you crazy, what are you talking about? This money and then there’s the network or the code. So, they were actually exploring, and they didn’t have a solution until ’08. The Bitcoin white paper. So, in a way we didn’t have a quite good native currency of the internet because the technology didn’t exist… Some of the cryptographic basics are that, but the full package wasn’t there. Now we’re talking about money, partly because it exists. We’re now year twelve, thirteen of Bitcoin existing. But also partly because there’s a lot of money. It’s sounds a bit to logical, but there’s a lot of money in crypto already. And the money needs to find a home. There’s this large stock of money that’s been created of value in inverted commerce being created. That’s looking for a home. So, I think its A, the technology exists and B, there’s a lot of money slashing around.

AZEEM AZHAR: And money creates more money. So, in 2021, nearly $5 billion worth of venture capital went into NFT, non-fungible token startups, which is 130-fold growth over 2020. And there’s a dynamic of belief, right? So, money credit, credo, Latin, I believe. If, enough, people believe it. And if there are reasons for us to believe it, then you can construct enough momentum for something to move forward. Right? If you’re a technical stock trader you often talk about resistance lines and resistance lines is a way of saying, this is a level at which a lot of people believe something to be true. And if you break through that resistance line, you wait for the next resistance line… So, there is dynamic of the heart of markets and the heart of the way that assets get valued in the way that capital gets deployed, which is about our collective conviction in something. And that’s quite something that’s quite hard to measure, but I get a sense that there is a collective conviction now that is coming together. That it’s not an if, it’s a when. And that when will, is partly technological, right? Can we continue to make the screen smaller, the battery life longer, the process is faster. But it’s also partly about the increasing sense of belief that this can happen, which we match by increasing patience for experiments that may or may not succeed. I mean, is that’s how markets form in a way.

RONIT GHOSE: Many has happened, madness, delusions happen. And they company all big shifts in technology or business models. Going back to my recent trip to London and lived there, I never thought about how many stupid train stations there are next to each other.

AZEEM AZHAR: Right. And this was because of the railway mania and the 19th century.

RONIT GHOSE: Exactly. Right. And you think about a [inaudible 00:24:05] Houston, that’s Kings Cross all next to each other. In a centrally planned world who would’ve put three main line stations next to each other. It never happened in France, right? And because there was a huge amount of speculation around that kind of railway era. But there was a real technology as well, that was being created that transforms lives. It collapsed physical distance. A lot of those investors went bust. But at the same time, there was a new technology and new business models or legal models. I think it’s the PLC, right? The limited liability cut.

AZEEM AZHAR: That’s right.

RONIT GHOSE: And so now we go to this information age and you were very early as in, 1991, already had a computer. But I was barely getting into the tech age, but we’ve had, like, thirty years of being immersed in this technology revolution. And then subsequently you’ve had this Bitcoin Blockchain revolution as well. So, there’s a whole generation, that’s grown up that a prime thing. Why doesn’t it have the same value as a physical asset? Why can we merge it? Why can a digital asset give us some access into something in the physical world?

AZEEM AZHAR: The process you describe around the train stations in London is described quite well by Carlota Perez in her framework of financial manias, right? You get this speculative investment in a new technology and there’s an exuberance and then there’s a bust. And then you get into productive application of capital. So, when you look at metaverse and the funding that’s gone in, and the scale of some of the tokens, are we at a period of mania now. Whether, these will get bust or have they still got room to run or has the bust happened? And we’re now in the productive phase.

RONIT GHOSE: We’re definitely in the period of mania. And you can see that in terms of the amount of interest it’s getting. If you measure consumer mania or mass market mania with just those Google search trend charts, the bubbles already burst. As in we’re in the… I’m in the trough of disillusionment or whatever, but in the hype cycle, the real peak in the mania was October, November, last year. In the consumer space, in terms of looking at individuals and the people looking what is the metaverse googling it. But if you switch your attention to the corporate space and look at companies and their plans, I don’t think the mania is anywhere close to cresting or busting.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, consumers have got a bit bored, but companies are loving it. And what’s the data showing on that there.

RONIT GHOSE: So basically it’s a timing issue, which is the companies are saying, in the last two quarters earnings calls, corporate filings, other presentations, the documents, this is really big and important. And we can feel this in our interactions. It’s partly FOMO. But it’s partly a thinking, you are big in education, big in health, big in almost any space, but particularly luxury consumer B2C. You remember what happened when e-commerce came, when the internet came. You don’t want that to happen again. Particularly, if you’re one of the existing giants, like a meta platform, cetera. You don’t want to be pushed aside because you are slow in this.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, that’s, the corporates. But of course there is so much interesting activity happening within startups, right? Companies that have said, the metaverse will be new experiences that will be closely connected to some kind of digital currency. As someone who’s living in this from the outside, I look at some of these games like in Axie Infinity. And I feel like I’m a British tourist going to America for the first time. And I’m expected to tip everyone at every point. And I’m feel really uncomfortable about that whole process. Is this going to be a deep financialization of every interaction.

RONIT GHOSE: Web3, let alone play to earn games are hugely controversial in the gaming sector, right? Because, as, you’ve said we sometimes want to play games of fun. We want to play games for community. We want to look at art. We don’t want money and financialization to creep into every aspect of our lives. In fact, in a way, in a Web2 context, why Fintech really worked, was it abstracts away money. I can get in an Uber and not worry about paying the taxi driver. And fiddling out with change. It’s all embedded in the transaction. Most of us really don’t want to think about money. This is a fundamental problem that I think Web3 has, in terms of trying to add tokens into everything. And we know why it gets done in terms of incentives and all profit motives. But in most of our daily activities, most of us don’t want money to be at the forefront.

AZEEM AZHAR: I found some of this quite paradoxical, right? When we last spoke, you talked about the future of finance, being a much more heterogeneous financial system, where services are provided by institutions, weren’t considered banks. Banking and finance become invisible. And when you then start to look at a lot of the DeFi world, that is quite interesting, right? So, lending and saving and exchange becomes quite invisible at play into your thesis of the historical direction of banking. And then up shows all this metaverse stuff. And we’re having to feed coins into the meter at every moment. So, how do we square those?

RONIT GHOSE: So, the feeding coins in, or the play to wear and the Axie Infinities, I would think of it as a tiny subset of the metaverse. A lot of the metaverse is simply going to be taking what we do in the digital world today into a new realm, into 3D realm. Whether decentralized meta versus really powerful is more into ownership, in that I can own something in a digital world. I’m not a renter anymore. And that’s where Blockchain comes in. So, that’s, cool because just like in the physical world today, if I have a car, I can drive it around. It’s not stuck in my post code, if you like. So, that, sense of ownership is I think the exciting bit of Web3. The monetization, the hyper financialization of every single transaction is the dark side. And that’s where I think most people recognize that this is not the future of gaming per se. If it’s just, I’m going to make money, for most of us, it’s not the be all and end all.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, in game money is one dimension of money in the metaphors, but there are others. What is going to be the role of a traditional cryptocurrency and all of that.

RONIT GHOSE: The value of these tokens is that you can do atomic settlement. It’s real time. It’s person into person. Typically, when you do the existing rails that are account based, not token based, in many parts of the world, they’re not real time. They go through existing financial systems that create friction and they have this problem of also national currencies and national borders, which is why digital tokens are like the native currency. So, cryptocurrency will definitely play a part, particularly as in many parts of the world, we get clearer regulation the next one to two years. But if we’re accessing the metaverse through some big tech companies, consumer device, be it AR, VR, gate game console, they’ll probably keep us in their operating system.

AZEEM AZHAR: And these systems are really efficient in reality, right? For everything that we…

RONIT GHOSE: And simple.

AZEEM AZHAR: They’re simple, right? So, you give up certain rights, right? You give up the right, not to be censored amongst other things, but actually what you get is a seamless interaction. And it’s one reason why I think if we look at where things like Bitcoin has been used for remittances, it’s been used in high spread, low volume, remittance channels, say between East Asian and South Asian currencies. It’s not used in the US Dollar Sterling channel, because that’s really efficient. And so when I look at some of the developments that I see happening in the metaverse, I come back for all of the brilliance, right? Where will convenience end up trumping people’s choice to shift platform?

RONIT GHOSE: So how about I try to have my cake and eat it by saying it’s not either/or. And this is a real business opportunity as well. And you see many companies in this space emerging. So, we called it Web2 ½. We didn’t make the term up. It’s been around forever. As soon as someone came up with Web3 – I think it was Gavin Wood. So, they had a Web2 ½ of those sort of Fintech monitors. It’s DeFi in the back. And it’s TradFi or Cfi on the front, which is the Apple phone, the Apple Pay transaction. It’s, simple, it’s beautiful. It’s elegant. It’s intuitive. I don’t have to think about it. I can set up most Apple devices without ever looking at their user manual. Try doing that with DeFi or even simple things like meta mask. So, there’s a beauty to that. A user experience beauty, and that’s still going to have value… And then at the backend, there’s this value of having decentralization of having define now, obviously the true believes they’ll say, I don’t want a centralized interface. Be it a Coinbase or an Apple or whoever. I just want to go straight in. And then you can say, well, hang on a lot of the interfaces today, even if you have like open sea meta mask. Is that centralized to that? So, it’s a spectrum decentralization, but there’ll be some true believes will say, I just want all of the benefits of decentralization, the philosophical benefits, et cetera. And I can live without the convenience. The centralized platforms give most of us. I think 90, 95% will want the convenience. Some people will now I’m try to merge that. So, Web2 ½ is one answer to that. The solution is going to be trying to take extract the best of both worlds. Put it together in some kind of unholy marriage Web2 ½.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, when we think about this emerging computing platform of the metaverse, and it’s going to have some closed aspects and some open aspects to it, other forms on money that we need on there, are they going to end up being new forms that are designed for those platforms because of the old incumbency challenge, right? That Bitcoin and Ethereum weren’t designed for these types of behavior is right. So, we’ll need to build something that is new, whether it’s a layer two or it’s a side chain over it.

RONIT GHOSE: Absolutely. In a way, for example, CBDC Central Bank Digital Currencies, it’s often described as a solution, looking for a problem CBDC. Maybe this is a good use case because they’re tokenized their digital, but at the same time, they have the Fiat certainty and the Fiat backing that the vast majority of the population, whatever the Bitcoin maxes say, still put value in.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, when you look back now, as an analyst, whose job it is to historicize things, and then tell us where things are going, is your money on a broadly decentralized metaverse or a largely more centralized metaverse? In other words, will it look more like Web2 or more like the Web3 future that the apostles are preaching and I’m not going to allow half measures.

RONIT GHOSE: And I’m going to take it, right? Because I’ll say in the next two to three years, by number of users, it’ll be centralized metaverses bigger than decentralized. The number of daily active users, or even monthly active users on the Blockchain still limited compared to the centralized platforms. So, next two, three years, it’ll be still centralized metaverse. On a seven- to ten-year view, the jury is out. I think it was best described to me. And we’ve quoted in the report by, one of the co-founders of Polygon, who’s obviously a believer in the decentralized world. He said the centralized world’s not going to go away, but my hope and my expectation is that on everyone’s device, be it a smartphone or other, there’ll be access points to decentralized application… Today, we have just over four billion unique smartphone users. That number will be much higher, six, seven billion. All of those users or a large number of them will have through our centralized devices, access to decentralized applications, decentralized infrastructure. I know you trying to get me to say either, or. It’s not going to either, or. In the short term is definitely going to be centralized just by a number of users and dollars. In the medium to long term, it’s going to be coexistent.

AZEEM AZHAR: So, when we think about that longer term, future five, seven, 10 years out, and people have access to these diverse metaverse applications, which have their own currencies within them, what kind of competencies will these gen beaters end up having? Right? Because they’ll be juggling between automated systems and non-automated systems and many other different forms of exchange and value. What will they look like?

RONIT GHOSE: But I just go back to that anecdote I used earlier in the show about how I struggled the first time I got onto a virtual lap. And then the second time I got on, I sat down with my, at the time seven-year old, who showed me very quickly within five to ten minutes, how to navigate. That’s basically what it’s going to look like. It’s a bit like when you call your parents or grandparents. Oftentimes they’re on the mobile phone. They’re scared of long conversations. Cause they remember a time when that was really expensive. Most of us, we don’t think about the cost of international phone calls, right? It’s just going to be natural. And then the rest of us just need to catch up. In a way it’s no different to the mobile revolution, the smartphone revolution,

AZEEM AZHAR: Ronit, I look forward to catching up with you in the metaverse because you are going to be streets ahead of me. Thanks so much for making the time.

RONIT GHOSE: Thank you, Azeem.

About Jason Dooris

I have created and designed marketing and growth strategies for some of the world’s recognisable brands including Amazon, Deloitte, Saatchi and Saatchi, Optus, Virgin Mobile, Big W, Woolworths Supermarkets, Dan Murphys, Nespresso and Landlease. I have also worked with many Government departments on culture change and identity branding.

I am passionate about people leadership and development - empowering and engaging large marketing and brand teams through coaching, training, and mentorship for performance excellence. I currently lead a global/remote team across multiple locations including Australia, Argentina, Hong Kong and China.

I have a proven history of achievement in delivering corporate growth plans, and successful marketing initiatives to stimulate revenue growth and outperform sales objectives and have strong digital technology capabilities in advertising, communications, social media, marketing, and creative agency management.

My career experience has enabled me to present and speak across numerous platforms and industries as a subject matter expert, namely: ABC News, Sunrise, for the Australian Government, IBM Annual Global Conference, Emirates Annual Conference, AMP Board, New York Art Directors Club, Media & Marketing Europe, Australian Financial Review, and Web Summit.

I also volunteer my time and give back to the community via Board and Committee memberships.

Some key achievements and skills:

Ø Exceptional abilities in the development/implementation of marketing and growth innovations, ensuring business sustainability and continuous growth while cultivating strategic partnerships.

Ø A high impact leader and influencer with proven expertise in directing/coordinating all top to bottom functions of marketing, media, data analytics, traditional, & digital creative campaigns, business processes and performance groups.

Ø Completed large scale advertising and marketing projects, managing the entire product lifecycle, including research, prototype development, manufacturing, sales, branding, and marketing.

Ø Outstanding business and financial acumen with a forward-looking approach and collaborative styles.

Ø Interpersonal dexterity and executive influencing skills to build and sustain strong and mutually beneficial professional relationships with key stakeholders, clients, and staff members.

My area of expertise includes Brand Awareness & Integration, New Business Development, Team Leadership & Direction, Public Speaking Abilities, Consultation Services, Growth Strategies Implementation, Commercial Business Acumen, Hard-Hitting Negotiations, Stakeholder Engagement, Course Marketing, Business Transformation, Marketing & Advertising, Product Development, Risk Mitigation, Advertising and Media Solutions.

Feel free to email me at or visit my personal website

“Its been an exciting first half!” Jason Dooris

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