Academics issue alert on metaverse land bubble

Academics issue alert on metaverse land bubble

Academics warn that metaverse land prices could face a bubble after surging by 300 times in two years.

The Bank of Thailand's Puey Ungphakorn Institution for Economic Research collaborated with Chulalongkorn University on a paper titled "Is Metaverse Land a Good Investment? It Depends on Your Unit of Account".

The two institutes held a discussion about the paper on Wednesday.

The paper was co-authored by Kanis Saengchote, associate professor in the department of banking and finance, Chulalongkorn Business School, and Voraprapa Nakavachara, assistant to the president for global engagement at Chulalongkorn University.

The paper surveyed land prices under an all-sales index in the Sandbox, which is a metaverse based on blockchain technology, from December 2019 to January 2022.

The survey found virtual land prices in the Sandbox increased by 300 times.

In addition, the paper found the repeat sales index for the Sandbox soared by 12 times in the same period.

Though the repeat sales are much lower than total sales, an increase of 12 times is significantly high for the past two years compared with physical land prices, said Mr Kanis.

"A bubble is possible for any asset," he said.

"We cannot specifically forecast a bubble for virtual land, but our data shows the virtual land price in the Sandbox increased by 300 times in two years, so investors in this portion of the metaverse should be careful."

This year an individual virtual land sale in the Sandbox reached a top value of US$4.3 million (around 140 million baht), while the high was $3.5 million in Decentraland (around 115 million baht).

Ms Voraprapa said the metaverse has become popular among business operators, investors and consumers worldwide.

The virtual world would create several benefits for business operations, including PR and marketing, building new customer experiences and providing opportunities to acquire new clients, she said.

Other uses include leveraging blockchain technology to develop new products, services and business models, said Ms Voraprapa.

She said the metaverse can help to create new innovative jobs, such as property developer, economist, data analyst, event creator and blockchain engineer.

By connecting the physical and virtual worlds and facilitating goods trade in the real world, the metaverse can increase GDP in the physical world via the digital economy, said Ms Voraprapa.

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