Meta Platforms (META) will not single-handedly build the metaverse, nor will Microsoft (MSFT), nor Apple (AAPL), nor Autodesk (ADSK), nor Amazon (AMZN)…
We think of the metaverse as a series of interconnected digital worlds where people engage in recreational and commercial activity. Everything from gaming to purchasing a house to leasing commercial space, to buying a car – you name it. Key to how the metaverse operates will be digital representations of the people, goods and services for the particular “world” in question. Microsoft refers to this concept as “digital twins”.
For example, if I wished to lease 200,000 sqft of commercial space in a particular market, today I could dip into CoStar Group’s (CSGP) Commercial Properties database and see digital representations of available space across 7 million commercial properties globally. This database contains a variety of data-rich information including building specs, floor plans, tenant information, photos of a given building’s exterior, interior, square footage, parking slots, 3D models, vacancies, prior transactions, building financials and more. We can imagine that in the future all of this rich CRE information will be stored across a series of distributed databases (distributed ledger technology “DLT” or blockchains), owned by property owners, states & municipalities and Technology companies such as CoStar group.
One may think of automobiles in a similar way in that the various components of a given vehicle, its service repair history, usage, title/ownership record, traffic violations, theft, insurance claims, predictive maintenance and more is all part of that vehicle’s digital identity. Access to that digital identity or digital profile would be controlled by the vehicle’s owner. This data and information is already digitized by companies such as Solera (my former employer) as well as the automobile OEMs. However, the information is stored in legacy databases which means information is siloed. DLT/Blockchains would provide authorized interested parties real-time access to all relevant information. Thus, every time the owner brought his/her vehicle in for maintenance, mechanical repair, filed an insurance claims etc. the owner would not have to submit the same information over and over again as all relevant parties would have access to the vehicle’s digital identity (or portions of it), with the owner’s permission. The same logic could be applied to houses, boats, publicly-traded companies or any other asset.
People would also have digital profiles stored on blockchains to where people may grant access to various interested parties when applying for a loan, purchasing a home, applying to college, applying for a job, traveling internationally, renting a car, renting a hotel, subscribing to an Internet service, registering for a hospital visit, visiting one’s doctor, etc. A person’s digital profile would include all of the information you may imagine including employment history, education, address history, properties owned, identities of family members, tax history, social media profiles, health records as well as other state, local and Federal records and more.
It will be more difficult for individuals to have true privacy/ stay off of the grid as the metaverse grows and evolves. However, individuals will likely have more control over their personal information (“PII data”), than they do today.