By Tom Sedoric and Casey Snyder

“If the future is the metaverse, should you have a financial plan for it?” - Charlie Wells, Bloomberg Wealth

For those of us who did not grow up as digital natives, keeping up with burgeoning tech trends and the evolution of our increasingly plugged-in world can be a daunting task. What’s an NFT? Should I invest in Bitcoin? Which of these trends are passing fads, and which are here to stay? There’s a lot of information swirling around, and it’s difficult to make sense of it all. Let’s break off a small piece to start and dive into the metaverse (figuratively, not literally).

You’ve likely heard about Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta, an announcement that came hand in hand with the arrival of the metaverse. According to the company’s press release, the metaverse “...will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world.” Combining real-world experiences with virtual reality isn’t a groundbreaking idea. The “metaverse” was first coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson, and many people argue that the metaverse already existed before Meta’s 2021 announcement. 

So what’s different about the metaverse now, and why should we care? 

The Metaverse Can Change How We Live and Work

The virtual world is no longer exclusively intended for entertainment, like playing video games or virtual sports with large goggles on. Meta’s vision is to create a space where businesses conduct meetings, attend concerts, shop, and even work remotely. Many people may find themselves increasingly integrated with the metaverse in the coming years. 

Some shifts are already underway—you’ve probably heard about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in recent months. Forbes reports

“The metaverse will allow people to showcase digital forms of art and property, and NFTs will allow them to put a price on that content with proof of ownership.

While NFTs use the same blockchain technology that cryptocurrencies use, they’re not a type of currency themselves. Each NFT is attached to a specific item. That item could be a painting, video game content, music, or anything else that can be attached to that specific token.” 

Some cryptocurrency experts consider NFTs to be the ideal currency for the metaverse, as they act as digital “deeds” for property that only exists in a virtual world. And, speaking of property, some enthusiastic investors have already begun laying claim to virtual “plots of land” in the metaverse. Decentraland, for example, is a virtual place with its own economy, currency, and even a social events calendar. A firm called Republic Realm has created a digital real estate fund that aims to purchase plots of land from virtual worlds like Decentraland and develop them into virtual hotels, stores, and more. The goal? To increase the value of these plots among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. The minimum investment? A hefty $25,000. 

If your head is spinning, you’re not alone, and it probably should be. But it’s not worth losing any sleep over. The reality is, we don’t yet know how significant of an impact the metaverse will make on our lives—if any at all. As we’ve said before, we don’t know yet if crypto will have a minor or major impact on national or global economies in the decades to come. We don’t know what role the metaverse will play, either. Our role as fiduciaries requires us to stay abreast of these trends to help you make prudent decisions with your money, and we will continue to do so as trends in technology and society evolve and advance. 

Cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based investments are speculative in nature and involve a very high degree of risk. Investors must have the financial ability and willingness to bear the risks of a potential total loss of their investment. The prominent underlying risk of using cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange is that it is not authorized or regulated by any central bank. Cryptocurrencies are not registered with the SEC, and the marketplace is currently unregulated. Securities that have been classified as Bitcoin-related cannot be purchased or deposited in Raymond James client accounts. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.