Metaverse is the future of social interactions, characterized by the integration of technologies like virtual, mixed, and augmented realities. Metaverse was intended not only to improve on the virtual worlds created with technology but to connect both the physical and virtual worlds using virtual, augmented reality headsets.
Metaverse development is still underway, however, many companies are exploring its potential to conduct business. A recent report from the technology research and advisory firm Technavio found that the Metaverse will hit a market share value of $50.37 billion by the year 2026.
Another report predicts that the growth of the Metaverse will be driven by e-commerce, which is expected to reach a market share of $60.47 billion by the year 2026. E-commerce across social media platforms is also expected to increase over the coming years, which may suggest that the Metaverse will advance as the next generation of social networking.
Metaverse Digital Identity
Metaverse users have the potential to represent themselves with digital identities built upon avatars and digital assets,
Metaverse platform Virtua show reports that younger generations are particularly excited by the potential of identifying themselves in virtual worlds that allow for the creation of digital identities and ownership. A report found that 63% of American millennials expect the Metaverse to help them reinvent themselves, while 70% of Americans surveyed agreed that digital items like clothing and artwork are already an essential part of their identity.
According to Jawad Ashraf, CEO, and co-founder of Virtua, in an interview with told Cointelegraph.
“Many people today have reinvented themselves on social media, as they are projecting an image that is still personable and interactive. The Metaverse allows users to express themselves through an avatar, allowing each person to be themselves without the fear of face-to-face interaction.”
Ashraf added that people will be able to express themselves much more freely in the Metaverse in comparison with Web2 social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. He believes this is the case because users will be able to customize avatars to portray themselves while leveraging digital assets that they own.
Janice Denegri-Knott, a professor of consumer culture and behaviour at Bournemouth University and a researcher behind Virtua’s digital ownership report defines digital identity as “the unique, identifiable information that is connected to a person when online.” As such, the concept of digital identity, in this case, extends much deeper than customizing an avatar to resemble oneself.
“The Metaverse with its blockchain infrastructure affords users the potential to assume greater ownership rights over their data, giving them more control over the information they share with others. The beauty of the Metaverse is that a user can have different digital identities, such as a workplace identity, sporting identity, and personal identity, while all still being based on the user’s real-world identity.” Denegri-Knott added.
Challenges Associated With Digital Identity
Since digital identity is the key feature behind the appeal of the Metaverse, several security issues like trust and privacy are associated with this concept.
Professor at the University of California at Berkeley and founder of Oasis Labs Dawn Song told Cointelegraph that seemingly anonymous metaverse platforms may still be able to collect user data. “As an example, in our research, we have shown the new privacy risks of the Metaverse. We need new technical solutions to better protect users’ privacy,” she said. To combat this, Song explained that she helped develop a decentralized anonymous credential system with an on-chain verification to enable users to prove the properties of their identity while maintaining privacy.
“This system can provide practical on-chain verification for the first time, achieving both privacy and accountability. It can allow users to show know your customer certificates while remaining private by using zk-SNARKs and smart contract capabilities to verify anonymous credentials,”
she explained. Song added that her U.C. Berkeley research group created a new solution called “metaguard” to provide an incognito mode for users in the Metaverse.
The Growth Of Digital Identity
According to Sebastien Borget, co-founder and chief operating officer of The Sandbox, in an interview with Cointelegraph – digital identity will continue to build as users spend more time within the Metaverse, whether that be within gaming environments, through virtual events, or in online workplaces. “Users should be able to use all their data as proof of who they are online. This will contribute to defining an individual’s true digital identity (or multiple ones since there can be many),” he remarked. Borget added that a user’s digital footprint will soon become important within other sectors, like decentralized finance (DeFi):
“Even in DeFi, a crypto exchange can loan you more to buy land if you prove you actually spend time building and playing in the metaverse. And you don’t want that data to be held in just one virtual world — in the true spirit of Web3, users shouldn’t have to be locked in one walled garden platform to carry out their history and reputation.”