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Can the Metaverse Be a Safe Zone in This Tech-Driven World?

15 Dec 2022

Imagine a world where you can work, shop, learn, and interact with each other from the comfort of your home. Imagine walking down the street and watching your favorite sports on a digital screen floating in front of you. Sounds exciting, right? Well, that’s how seamlessly the metaverse will combine the physical and virtual worlds in the coming future. But are we ready for this new-age technology? 

We are on a threshold of a new wave of digital transformation, and there is a lot to think about. In a tech-driven world where risks are inevitable, digital safety is a must. The metaverse or the iteration of the internet will be what we make of it. 

While it’s too nascent, several factors indicate that it has the potential for digital disruption. The metaverse is expected to be a $679 billion industry in India by 2030. A recent study highlights the technology’s potential globally. As per the study, it is anticipated to reach US$ 996 billion in the coming eight years, growing at a CAGR of 39.8%. The metaverse market size was US$ 22.79 billion in 2021. The statistics are promising, but we must be prepared for the transformation it might bring along.

Addressing the Potential Challenges 

We have witnessed some of the worse aspects of the web in the past. And while there is a lot of positive buzz around the metaverse, there are risks involved here as well for all stakeholders – marketers, investors, and the commoners – as the line between the physical and virtual further blurs. It goes without saying that the technology’s growth would increase trust and safety risks. 

Potential risks include harassment and cyberbullying, identity theft, increased abuse, financial fraud, a threat to user security, and a rise in objectionable content. According to US-based firm Norton’s Cyber Safety Pulse Report, India witnessed nearly 2 lakh cyber-attacks every day for the first three months of 2022. Not just in India, deepfakes and cryptocurrency-related scams were the most prevalent worldwide during the mentioned quarter. It is being claimed that the metaverse will be the new playground for cybercriminals in 2023.

If Done Right, the Metaverse Can Be a Blessing

Due to its immersive reality experience, addressing these challenges becomes even more crucial. Let’s start by looking at the upside to it all. India is set to become the 3rd-largest economy by 2030, according to a Deloitte report. Half of its population is under the age of 30, which is a digitally connected demographic, well-positioned to contribute to digital labor to the metaverse. As of October 2022, according to the National Payments Corporation of India, the UPI transactions crossed INR 730 crore, marking a 73% YOY growth. 

The consumption of gaming platforms and video streaming has also increased. An OTT viewer spends approximately 70 minutes daily on video streaming platforms, according to an Eros Now-KPMG report. The growing popularity of digital technologies among this population can be a foundation for the metaverse’s bright future. Meanwhile, the Government is also upgrading its IT equipment and infrastructure due to increasing cybersecurity risks.

Further, to construct an ecosystem of trust, the companies must build algorithms, frameworks, structures, policies, and regulations within the software and hardware development. Another factor that would need attention to ensure privacy is how data is shared in the virtual world. It calls for the usage of integrative emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), extended reality (augmented, virtual, and mixed reality), blockchain, etc. Businesses must use AI insights to identify abuse or other misconduct and implement data-driven solutions. 

Besides, customers will also need to make conscious efforts to understand the security and privacy measures the organizations take. They need to ask questions like where the data is stored, how long it will be stored, etc. Creating such ecosystems will ensure the metaverse’s inclusive and stable existence to maintain safety. Policymakers should prioritize things like user authentication and blocking inappropriate content for children. 

Metaverse is creating exciting opportunities for brands, and given the increased attention and competition across industries, companies are now experimenting with it. And with new opportunities come newer risks. By asking the right questions and enabling a trustable ecosystem, we will pave the path to safety for people in the metaverse.