While the metaverse aims to explore a parallel world and the cryptocurrency to free itself from the protection of the state, the commercial prospects offered by web 3.0 are confronted with the difficulties of entering markets that are still in the making. Between economic uncertainties and promises of Eldorado, only the most accustomed to technology will be able, at first, to make their way.
E-commerce, gaming, luxury, advertising,… the sectors invested by the metaverse are multiplying and cryptocurrency transactions are increasing. These activities, growing, carried out by pioneers, attract. Should we start? Answers with some specialists who hire the bright future of the new Webwithout denying its areas of weakness.
Blockchain, cryptocurrency, metaverse… Web 3.0 is making many headlines. What is it about ? Of the third generation of the Internet, what happens to that of Web 1.0 (display of information) and that of Web 2.0 (interactivity and social networks in the hands of GAFAM). With it, the era of a decentralized internet opens, based on the blockchain that gives power back to internet users. In short, in an immersive virtual world – the metaverse (a contraction of meta universe) – humans interact via avatars, consume Notes (non-fungible tokens or digital files attached to a certificate of authenticity and stored on a blockchain) and pay in cryptocurrency. An attractive program! Among the more advanced use cases, Ivan de Lastours, blockchain/crypto lead at Bpifrance, indicates “cryptocurrency exchanges, the supply chain (thanks to the traceability of the parts that the blockchain improves), the processes between banking institutions, health or even customer relationships”.
New customer experience and new transaction methods
Web 3.0 would therefore offer unprecedented business opportunities. Firms with strong technology anchors seem to want to take the plunge. Aware of what is at stake, the giants of the web are mobilizing. Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook’s name to Meta (short for metaverse) to bring his company into Web 3.0, Microsoft offers tools for build the metaverse (Office 365 and Teams) and announced plans to develop a video game offering. Brands (Gucci, Warner Music, Carrefour, Ubisoft, etc.) are rushing at the platform gates (Decentraland or The Sandbox in particular) to capture virtual textures e outlets open. Gaming, retail, real estate, culture… there are many sectors involved. Paris Design Week 2022 has made it the common thread of its program for the start of the school year. A Metavers Fashion Week was organized in March following the World Fashion Weeks which took place, in physical mode, in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
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The dream seems within reach of the screen (or the virtual reality headset)! The VivaTech 2022 fair testified to the many initiatives and experiments underway. Purchase and fitting of virtual clothes through the DressX start-up for LVMH, real work environment remixed in 3D to immerse candidates for selection in Adecco. On July 12, François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Banque de France, gave a keynote speech on the central bank digital currency (MNBC) at the Paris Europlace international financial forum, discussing a second phase of experimentation of the Eurodigital future… On the side of start-ups, there have been fundraising announcements for several months. Crypto-financial markets data provider Kaiko announced in June it was raising $53 million in Series B to continue its international development. Arianee, the Parisian company that produces NFTs and therefore gives a digital identity to luxury products, raised $20 million in May for the same reasons. Many young shoots are positioning themselves but are, to date, only in the start-up phase. At the end of June Omi, modeling software, raised 6 million euros for to accompany brands in the metaverse, developing 3D technology to automate the creation of photo and video content and enable them to do so offer experiences of e-commerce and shopping 3.0. Request Finance has raised $5.5 million to mainstream cryptocurrency payment in businesses. Examples among many others! “We invest in start-ups like APLO (prime broker placing orders for institutional clients in cryptocurrencies and tokens)”, says Mathieu Viallard, general partner of the Axeleo Capital fund. The selection criteria remain traditional: quality of managers, experience, execution plan. “We look for technologically sound projects and pay attention to the risk of vulnerability, because the most vulnerable are hacked”Adds.
sources of concern
If all the positive signals, likely to reassure entrepreneurs, are multiplying, they should be put into perspective with more negative signals. Thus the resignation of Vivek Sharma, who joined Meta in 2016 and took over the management of the virtual reality platform Horizon Words (virtual collaborative space) in 2021. According to Zuckerberg, criticism of the metaverse melts away on the web. The possibility that a giant of the Net takes over this universe calls into question the foundations of decentralization… Following the same principle, the debate between the Eurodigital potential and bitcoin has already started. Competition between cryptocurrencies, price changes, number of intermediaries agitate the sector regularly.
Another obstacle is the required technical level. “Yes, Web3 opens up a new entrepreneurial playground, but it imposes new codes, in a complex technical, economic and regulatory context”, admits Ivan de Lastours. An Eldorado as challenging as it is challenging. For the moment, the market seems to be reserved for enthusiasts, from engineering schools to legal and financial courses. To date, there are very few specialized training courses. Some Grandes Ecoles offer Master’s courses. In Paris, the “Metaverse College” (Collège de Paris group) opens at the beginning of the school year. “Little brother of the Digital College (3,000 students) in La Défense, Metavers College aims to train young people in the professions of XR developer, 3D designer, metaverse project manager, … Our goal is to remain flexible and adapt the offer to the needs of a constantly evolving sector“, comments Ridouan Abragi, its director. The first promotion should bring together only about fifty students, selected from the Bac +3 level. In companies, the recruitment of specialized profiles will have to wait.
Energetic sobriety in question
” LThe blockchain and metaverse require significant energy consumption (related to data centers, servers, broadband, etc.), but that is changing. Interestingly, the second largest cryptocurrency in the world, Ethereum, has begun its transition which should allow it to reduce its carbon footprint.” observes Pierre Jacob, director of Magellan Partners. “Other blockchains are developing and competing by guaranteeing less energy-intensive protocols. For its part, the use of the metaverse makes it possible to reduce energy consumption in other areas (transport) “, he continues.
Finally, the business models remain to be defined. Many start-ups base their project on commission. At Lyzi, a payment application in cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, ethereum, etc.), Damien Patureaux, CEO and founder, explains that he relies on different models: “In B to C we are remunerated on flows by charging service fees (from 1 to 3%) on the crypto payment made by the user, and we take 0.2% on trading activities (buying – selling bitcoins)”. In B to B, the model is different. “We offer a tailor-made offer and charge implementation costs and usage fees, in the form of a subscription or on a commission basis.“, he confides. The different formulas coexist”.We build technology, we learn by walking“, slips. This Entrepreneur Welcomes Time-to-Market: “In 2019 we looked like aliens, but today brands are asking us, the trend is there, despite the collapses, speculations and price changes”. The only flaw, the regulation. “The PSAN – editor’s note new status imposed by the legislator on digital asset service providers – put an end to profit-generating activities”, regrets.
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A beginning of regulation
In early July, Europe adopted two provisional texts aimed at regulating the sector: MiCA (Markets in crypto-assets) and TFR (Transfer of Funds Regulation), the first for regulate market players, the second for the fight against money laundering. As we can see, in Web 3.0, many legal questions remain unanswered. For example, who regulates these new territories?
These questions it should not, however, slow down the movement. In France, Ivan de Lastours assures him: ” Bpifrance supports Web 3.0 like many innovative sectors, thus more than 160 start-ups in the blockchain sector have been financed, because yes we believe in it, moreover, 220 million electronic wallets of cryptocurrencies have been created in the financial sector, we can estimate that they are 150 million registered users in the world, the sector exists even if it is not yet so impactful on a social level “. In its infancy, the cryptocurrency industry in France weighed more than 1.2 billion euros in terms of fundraising according to the study “Crypto in France, structuring and adoption by the general public” conducted by KPMG France for ADAN (association for the development of digital assets ). It would be at the origin of the creation of more than 1,100 direct jobs (i.e. a growth of almost 60% in one year), 80% of them in France, and realistic projections would lead this base to more than 2,400 direct jobs as of January 2023 (i.e. 120% growth) A growing Eldorado.