As an accounting firm coach, mentor and consultant I consume content from Australia and around the world to keep up with developments affecting the profession. I was listening to a podcast from the USA recently and on it the host was interviewing the “Chief Metaverse Officer” for a Top 100 American accounting firm called Prager Metis.
So what is the Metaverse and why might it be of interest to accounting firms?
It seems to me that “the Metaverse” is a term used to describe any number of virtual reality spaces where users can interact with a computer generated environment and other users. Many sources online including Wikipedia quote the source of the term as being the 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.
You will probably be aware that Facebook changed its name in October 2021 to Meta and reckons the combination of real and online worlds will be a big deal. Popular games such as Fortnite and Roblox are considered part of the Metaverse.
Confused? Gartner has a really good explanation here: What Is a Metaverse? (gartner.com)
Here are some examples of things Gartner says take place in a Metaverse:
- Purchasing outfits and accessories for online avatars
- Buying digital land and constructing virtual homes
- Participating in a virtual social experience
- Shopping in virtual malls via immersive commerce
- Using virtual classrooms to experience immersive learning
- Buying digital art, collectibles and assets (NFTs)
- Interacting with digital humans for onboarding employees, customer service, sales and other business interactions
Gartner further says: “It is expected that a Metaverse will provide persistent, decentralized, collaborative and interoperable opportunities and business models that will enable organizations to extend digital business.”
It’s pretty early days but things are moving fast as they tend to do in the world of digital technology and the partners of Prager Metis have decided that as an accounting firm they need to understand this new world. In essence they see it as a responsibility to be able to advise clients and also as an opportunity to enhance their own business.
In addition to having a CMO, Prager Metis has set up an office in the virtual world called Decentraland. In other words, they’ve purchased some virtual real estate. They see this as part of building their understanding of the Metaverse and as a result being much more able to assist clients. Decentraland is described by itself as follows. “Decentraland is a decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Within the Decentraland platform, users can create, experience, and monetize their content and applications.”
Still with me?! Perhaps this quote from quytech.com will help:
“Imagine studying, working, interacting, attending concerts, earning money, and playing games in an online realm that is both an extension and a fusion of the real world.
Besides, meetings with clients, digital entertainment, work training, and even online study are all expected to be available online in the future, thanks to the Metaverse. This is why so many businesses are investing in the Metaverse: the network’s ability to change the world is undeniable.”
See here for some further comments from deeds.com on buying virtual real estate.
The currencies of the Metaverse and the many virtual worlds already in existence are crypto currencies. If, as an accountant, you don’t yet understand crypto and feel confident in helping clients with the accounting and tax implications of treading it, then you are not alone. I have a couple of clients who have strong niches in this area and one in particular says he gets a regular flow of new clients as a result of other accountants being unable to help.
You might decide crypto is not for you and to stay away from it which is your choice. I’ve seen reports that perhaps 15% to 20% of Australians own crypto and that this could be as high as 30% for Generation Z Australians. Cryptocurrency in Australia – statistics & facts | Statista That’s a decent sized market to be served by accountants if you have a business model that allows you to serve them profitably.
If you’d like to listen to the podcast or read a transcript of the discussion that caught my attention you can find it here: Why the Metaverse matters to you | Accounting Today