Some technology experts have called on the Federal Government to invest in adequate research and formulate effective policies for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and metaverse to thrive and boost the digital economy of the nation.
They spoke at the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) Technology event with the theme: “The Future and Challenges of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and Metaverse in Africa”, held on Thursday in Lagos.
The experts said the call became pertinent following increased participation and curiosity of the youth in the virtual space, adding that there were huge risks and opportunities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the metaverse is a simulated digital environment that uses Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), blockchain technology and social media concepts to mimic the real world, to create a sense of virtual presence .
NFTs are aspects of the metaverse. They are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain which cannot be replicated and they represent real-world items like art, pictures, real estate and individuals’ identities.
The Principal Head, Satoshi, BBO Solicitors, Buki Ogunsakin, said that the government needed to arm itself with knowledge-based on research and come up with reasonable policies for adequate protection due to the complexities of the metaverse.
According to her, lack of regulations, security and data privacy issues are some of the risks associated with the metaverse and NFTs.
“We currently do not have regulations for the space and that’s primarily because there is a lack of understanding due to the complexity of the metaverse.
“When we are talking about going into the metaverse, we’re talking about getting biometric information including voice and eye commands as well as sensitive personal information. It is a very volatile space. So, there are security risks.
“On the part of the government, there are also concerns about money laundering because funds are now moving in a decentralized format without the influence of the government or the central bank.
“This is why the government needs to do more research to understand the space and get regulations in place to be able to protect citizens,” she said.
She, however, commended the government, particularly, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for making the effort to recognise the crypto space.
“The government is still in the process of doing a lot of research in this area.
“The SEC has come up with their own rules on issuance for virtual asset service providers. This shows the right step in ensuring that they understand the transactions that occur in the digital space.
“I am also a part of an organization called ‘Emerging Technologies for Emerging Markets’ and we are drawing up reports for the government on tech policies to guide them on how best to regulate the space,” she said.
She advised digital artists and NFT creators to consider the legal aspects such as trademarks, copyright, agreement, and licensing to avoid infringement or other sanctions.
On the opportunities, she said that the metaverse had created the possibility that one could be in Nigeria and have various social and work interactions in the virtual space.
“The metaverse has three dimensions; Virtual Reality Augmented Reality and Extended Reality (XR).
“For VR, you are transported into the virtual space via hardware devices like the VR headset. In AR, the virtual space or content is projected into your physical environment. It overlays visual elements, sound, and other sensory input onto real-world settings to enhance the user experience. While XR is a combination of both.
“So many companies and brands are making use of this, such that people can be in their homes and at the same time walk into a store and purchase anything using VR or AR,” she said.
Ogunsakin added that the use of blockchain technology also brought about accountability and transparency where one could easily verify and track transactions.
Similarly, Mr Yomi Ogunleye, Co-Founder, HerVest, said that one of the key drivers for growth in the multiverse in Africa asides from the digital arts was the educational sector, using “Eduverse” as a case study.
Eduverse is an online learning environment that allows students to harness the power of the metaverse and explore immersive virtual worlds in a safe and inclusive environment.
According to him, extended reality XR which is a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality can be channeled into the education sector as children are now more technologically savvy.
“Another aspect is that interior designers can use this space. For instance, you don’t have to necessarily create a demo using physical items, you can go to your client’s house, tell them to wear the virtual reality VR headset and they can see how the designs look in their homes,” he said.
On his part, Mr Jimi Daodu, Founder and Chief Executive officer, Vault Hill, said that blockchain was not synonymous with cryptocurrency as many people believed.
“Blockchain allows digital information to be recorded and distributed, but not edited.
“It is a foundation for immutable ledgers, or records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed. This in itself promotes transparency and accountability for users,” he said.
Daodu called on Nigerians to be more open to learning and moving with the paradigm shifts in the technology space as technology advances.
He also advised youths looking to invest in the metaverse to carry out in-depth research into the content or digital products as well as showcase the authenticity over time.
Earlier in her remarks, the President, NBCC, Mrs Bisi Adeyemi, said that the concept of meterverse and NFTs garnered more attention with the onset of the COVID-19 as lockdowns forced everyone to share online spaces for longer periods.
Adeyemi said that the metaverse was a huge economic force with the potential to significantly change the way we live, work and sell in years to come.
“Indeed NFTs are a key value driver as the metaverse market size has been predicted to reach about 800 billion dollars by 2024 and as high as one trillion in annual revenue,” she said. (NAN)