asks Katharine Wooller, UK managing director, Dacxi
The current buzz in the cryptosphere is all about the impending onset of ‘The Metaverse’ – a virtual world in which everybody is digitally connected. The term was coined in 1992 by Sci-Fi author Neal Stephenson who envisaged a post-apocalyptic world where the US Dollar had been trashed and global finance had collapsed completely. All commerce was conducted using digital currency through encrypted online transactions.
If, like me, you’ve been taking an interest in the world of Bitcoin and altcoins for the past year or two, this may sound scarily familiar. In effect Stephenson was predicting the world of decentralised finance, or DeFi where value was measured not in fiat currency but in some form of cryptocurrency. I, for one, am not surprised – the terms Sci-Fi and DeFi have a definite synergy to them and what futuristic visionaries write one day so often seems to come true years later.
You don’t need a crystal ball to see that The Metaverse is at the tipping point. Every day a new big-name brand (think Gucci) or financial services giant (think Paypal) embraces crypto as an option for doing business. Premiership footballers’ agents are talking about being paid in cryptocurrency of one form or another. The market in NFTs in digital art is exploding. El Salvador has introduced hundreds of Bitcoin ATMs as it attempts to move day-to-day transactions from the US Dollar to something less expensive.
The simple fact is that fiat currencies are extremely expensive to move across international borders for the simple reason that moneychangers (you never see a poor one!) take a slice of the action both sides of the equation. One look at your bank statement when you get back from using your debit card on holiday overseas will show you just how much it can cost.
What most of us don’t realise is that we endure these costs every day of the week. Buy your child a toy from Amazon and the chances are it was made in China – which means at some stage somebody had to swap sterling for yuan. High street fashion is just the same – buy an Indian cotton tee-shirt in Next and somewhere down the line sterling was swapped for rupees. Each time a middleman charged a margin, which will have impacted on the price we pay.
In contrast, the charges for transacting in cryptocurrency are minute. Furthermore, the speed of the transactions is super-fast. No wonder international corporations are starting to fill their wallets with digital coin. As of course are the Ultra High Net Worth glitterati – which is why more and more luxury brands will happily accept blue chip crypto.
For some then The Metaverse is already here – the super-rich are already frolicking in Gucci’s virtual pleasure garden. There is a saying in the tech world that ‘what the rich have now, the middle classes have in three years and the working man (or woman) has in five. That takes us to 2026. Whether by then we can all opt to be paid in crypto remains to be seen.
Personally, I can’t wait. Fiat currencies are outmoded, unwieldy, expensive and can be printed at will making them subject to devaluation at any time. Given the amount of quantitative easing we’ve experienced over the pandemic I for one have no real idea what the pound is worth anymore. By 2026, or long before, I happily predict that volatilities in the crypto currency market will be long gone. When The Metaverse calls at my door I most definitely plan to ‘swipe right’.
In the meantime, I’ll be quietly adding Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin to my wallet every month.
By Katharine Wooller
Katharine Wooller is managing director in the UK of Dacxi, one of the world’s leading crypto wealth specialist platforms for the retail sector. More details at www.dacxi.com