Created by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, the metaverse is an immersive virtual world
The metaverse is expected to grow rapidly to a $679 billion industry by 2030, but the growth has implications for trust and safety (T&S), such as threats to user security, increased abuse, proliferation of objectionable content, and financial frauds, a report by IT research firm Everest Group has said. Numerous opportunities to enterprises, such as investments and trade in digitalised assets – non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrency, among others are offered by the metaverse, it said.
Created by the use of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, the metaverse is an immersive virtual world.
“The metaverse is attracting large investments from technology giants such as Google, Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia to make the virtual world a reality, and the applications hold unlimited economic and social potential for both good and bad,” said Rajesh Ranjan, partner at Everest Group. “As organisations develop their business strategies for the metaverse, trust and safety issues need to be among their foremost considerations. Solving for those novel challenges will require a collaborative approach among enterprises, policymakers, academia, and T&S service providers to realise the full potential of metaverse as an immersive yet safe place for users.”
The report said T&S services, expected to reach $15-20 billion by 2024, is today among the fastest growing segments of the business process services market. As technology and infrastructure advances beyond the nascent stage, the market is expected to grow 35-38% through 2024, and accelerate to 60-68% growth beyond 2024.
Problems include fake identities, and scams such as rug-pull, vanish-with-the-profits, or wash trade. In rug-pull, a developer attracts investors to a new cryptocurrency project, then pulls out before the project is built, leaving the investors with a worthless currency. Wash trade is where buyers and sellers collude in a fraudulent trade that falsely inflates the value of assets, and cash out of their shares. According to analysis from blockchain data platform Chainanalysis, 110 wash trades collectively earned a profit of $8.9 billion in 2021 by inflating NFT prices.
Everest Group has also called out other risks, including abuse of virtual avatars through invasion of personal space, impersonation, harassment, assault, bullying, stalking and spying. The report noted the importance of safety of virtual assets from financial crimes and identity theft; and well-being of content moderators who may face physical and mental health hazards from prolonged exposure to VR headsets and content. It also raised concerns about regulatory ambiguity, especially policy gaps with respect to the definition of ownership, data privacy and user interactions.
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