UPDATE: Is the Worst Really Over for US Stocks?

Last month, we posed the question: “Is the worst over for US stocks?”

Answer: apparently not.

A week after that August 10th article, the S&P 500 did climb higher, only to be resisted by its 200-day simple moving average.

The blue-chip stock index even closed above the 50% Fibonacci retracement level, which was the key criteria for suggesting that the worst is over for the 2022 rout in US stocks.

As cited in the August article, according to data by the CFRA and S&P Global, in 18 of the 19 ‘bear markets’ seen since World War II, the S&P 500 then went on to a fresh bull run after closing above its 50% Fib retracement line.

But as the saying goes across financial markets “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

And that track record (stated above) now needs to be updated to “18 out of the past 20 bear markets …”.

Since that August article, the S&P 500 has unwound all of its summer gains, even printing intraday prices not seen since end-November 2020.

In essence, we have seen “worse” levels this week for the S&P 500 compared to those June lows.

Why Did the S&P 500 Erase Its Summer Gains?

Recall the premise for the S&P 500’s summer rally, as stated in last month’s article:

“Arguably, the primary reason is that markets believe that the Fed has done the largest chunks of its rate hikes already.”

Additionally, the S&P 500’s summer gains was based on the idea of a “dovish pivot” by the Fed.

That’s to say that markets had expected the Fed to be less courageous about sending US interest rates higher, for fear of triggering an economic recession.

But now we know better.

Since then, we have seen the US inflation data stubbornly printing near its highest levels in around 40 years.

Hence, many Fed officials, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell himself, have since sent a strong message to the markets:

The US central bank is hell bent on taming multi-decade high inflation by sending US interest rates even higher, and is willing to tolerate economic pain along the way.

Markets duly paid heed and raised their forecasted peak for this ongoing Fed rate hike cycle by about 90 basis points!

  • Back in August, markets expected that US rates won’t go higher than 3.6% in March 2023.
  • Today, that forecasted peak is now expected to reach nearly 4.5% by March.

What Do Higher Us Interest Rates Mean for the Us Economy?

Essentially, the Fed wants to see some “demand destruction”.

Policymakers want to see less money in an economy chasing after scarce goods and services.

That should, in theory, discourage businesses from ramping up their selling prices, hopefully resulting in slower inflation.

However, more economic pain could also bring about a shrinking economy i.e. a recession.

What Do Higher US Interest Rates Mean for the US Economy?

More downside likely.

With the US unemployment rate forecasted by the Fed to rise to 4.4% by end-2023, significantly higher from the 3.7% figure from last month, more jobless Americans should translate into less demand/spending in the US economy, which should also mean less earnings for companies.

Lower earnings due to such “economic pain” should also lead to lower share prices, with such a narrative already dragging on the S&P 500.

Tech Not Spared

Also, higher interest rates mean its tougher for so-called “growth companies” to continue borrowing cheap loans to fund its expansion plans while forsaking profitability.

Hence, as higher interest rates chock some of the potential growth (and earnings potential) for these growth companies, that has led to lower stock valuations as well.

Keep in mind that, with many of these growth stocks concentrated in the tech sector, no surprise then that the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has a year-to-date decline of almost 30%, falling deeper than the S&P 500’s 22% year-to-date decline.

However, the Nasdaq 100 is still managing to not surpass its June lows … for now.

Also, note that tech-led declines would only exert more downward pressure on the S&P 500.

This is because IT stocks (think Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, etc.) account for over a quarter (26.6%) of the S&P 500.

So, if you couple the S&P 500’s exposure to tech stocks with the weightage of consumer discretionary stocks (e.g. Amazon, Tesla, McDonald’s, etc. – which tend to take an earnings hit when customers have less disposable income during times of economic pain), then a US recession that’s triggered by higher US rates would only exert more downward pressure on the S&P 500.

NOTE: The S&P 500 index is widely used as the benchmark to gauge how overall US stocks are performing.

So What’s Next for the S&P 500?

Brace for the low-3000s.

In market fears surrounding a US recession continue ramping up, that may send the S&P 500 to as low as:

  • 3400: around the pre-pandemic peak set in Feb 2020
  • 3200: double-bottom from Sept/Oct 2020

Though for more immediate consideration, the S&P 500 is testing a crucial support level – its 200-week simple moving average.

This technical indicator has supported the S&P 500 in recent years, with such an episode last occurring at end-2018.

Athough the Fed was also busy raising interest rates back in 2018, those benchmark rates today have already surpassed those levels and are now standing at its highest since 2008 at 3.25%.

And US inflation is still around its highest levels since the early 1980s.

So if this 200-week SMA doesn’t hold, the S&P 500 is likely to then set course for the low-3000 region, dragged down by heightened  fears over a potential US recession and higher-for-longer US interest rates.

For more information visit FXTM.

AMTD Digital: Mysterious Stock Gets Bigger Than Disney

Key Insights

  • AMTD Digital touched highs at $2555 a few days after an IPO priced at $7.80.
  • There were no news to move the stock. 
  • In the longer-term, AMTD Digital will fall from current levels. 

Is Meme Stock Trading Back In Fashion?

While some traders have already forgotten about meme stocks, miracles still happen in the market. ADS (American Depositary Share) of AMTD Digital, a digital solutions platform from Hong Kong, soared from $7.80 to $2555 (!) after the IPO. The stock has already pulled back towards the $1000 level, but the rally is still enormous.

There were no news to trigger the huge rally. As a response to the abnormal price action, AMTD Digital published a “thank you note” to investors on its website. The company stated: “To our knowledge, there are no material circumstances, events nor other matters relating to our company’s business and operating activities since the IPO date.”

Even after the major pullback, AMTD Digital has a market cap of more than $203 billion. AMTD Digital is more expensive than Oracle, Nike, Disney, or McDonald’s!

What’s Next For AMTD Digital?

Not surprisingly, traders from social media forums like WallStreetBets have already noticed the stock. However, there were no active discussions at the start of the rally, so it is not clear what served as the key catalyst behind the move.

Traders should note that AMTD IDEA is a majority shareholder of AMTD Digital. Shares of AMDT IDEA soared on August 2, but quickly found themselves under pressure and started to pull back. Judging by the market action in AMTD IDEA, traders do not expect that the gains in AMTD Digital will hold, as the market capitalization of AMTD IDEA is just $1.93 billion.

This is not surprising as a little-known company with yearly revenue of less than $200 million has suddenly received a valuation that exceeds the market cap of huge global corporations.

Trading in AMTD Digital will remain highly volatile in the upcoming days. In the longer-term, the stock will move towards the IPO valuation. Traders who want to sit through all the volatility should note that they are risking losing most of their money.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Emirates Airlines Joins Other Big Names with Metaverse Ambitions

Key Insights:

  • Emirates Airlines became one of the first global carriers to target NFTs and the Metaverse.
  • The airline plans to launch its first products in just a few months.
  • As the list of big names targeting the NFTs and the Metaverse continues to grow, ambitious plans for Web3 will likely follow.

Interest in NFTs and the Metaverse shows no sign of abating, as big names continue to target Web3. Decentraland (MANA) and the Sandbox (SAND) have seen a marked increase in Metaverse activity.

While the music, film, and fashion industries have fully immersed in the Metaverse, other sectors have been slower on the uptake.

This week, the airline industry took aim at NFTs and the Metaverse, joining the growing list of industries seeing boundless opportunities with Web3.

Leading U.S investment banks have also been bullish on the Metaverse. In February, JPMorgan projected a $1 trillion Metaverse.

Emirates Airlines Takes Aim at NFTs and the Metaverse

This week, Emirates announced plans to launch NFTs and enter the Metaverse. Emirates intends to invest $10 million into the digital world, targeting customers and employees.

According to the announcement, the airline “plans to build signature brand experiences in the Metaverse, alongside both collectible and utility-based NFTs.”

The first projects are reportedly in the works, scheduled for launch in the coming months.

Chairman and CEO HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said,

“Dubai and the UAE are blazing the way in the digital economy, having a clear vision supported by practical policies and regulatory frameworks in areas such as virtual assets, artificial intelligence, and data protection”

He added,

“Emirates has always embraced advanced technologies to improve our business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees’ skills and experiences. We are excited about the new opportunities in the digital space of the future and are committing a significant investment in financial and resourcing terms, to develop products and services using advanced technologies that will deliver on revenue, brand experience, and business efficiencies.”

NFTs and the Metaverse offer airlines and the aviation industry incredible opportunities.

For the airline industry, NFTs could be used for ticketing and to record journeys. NFTs could store flight time, distance traveled, etc. The Metaverse can provide even more exciting opportunities, including virtual lounges.

Emirates may be ahead of the curve when it comes to the airline industry. In 2021, Emirates became the first airline to launch a VR app. The app allows users to view cabin interiors onboard the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777-300ER Gamechanger.

For several years, customers have also been able to view their seats and check in with a 3D seat map.

Emirates Joins a Growing List of Global Brands into the Metaverse

It has been a busy 2022, with an ever-growing number of industries targeting NFTs and the Metaverse.

In March, the Fashion industry held a 4-day fashion week in the Metaverse, with big brand names including Gucci and Victoria’s Secret also targeting NFTs and the Metaverse.

With the music industry and the fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, already in the virtual world, more big names are likely to follow.

World’s Largest Courier Company, UPS Plans on Entering the Metaverse

Key Insights:

  • United Parcel Service (UPS) filed multiple Metaverse and NFT related trademark applications.
  • UPS’ Metaverse filings will set a precedent for similar applications from other shipping and logistics brands.
  • Metaverse, at this point, has just become a medium of marketing for every brand & company.

As revealed by DC-based NFT trademark attorney Michael Kondoudis, the United Parcel Service (UPS) is preparing to establish a Metaverse presence. The move will bolster the already strong reach the company has in the world, to the virtual world as well.

Parcels in the Metaverse

The trademark filings range from basic NFT and Metaverse goods to creating a new network of shipping and deliveries as well. Although only six filings have been discovered, these six filings include goods and services such as:-

  • NFTs and Crypto-collectibles.
  • NFT backed multimedia.
  • Virtual retail shipping and delivery.
  • Virtual clothing, packages, vehicles, airplanes, and sports collectibles.
  • Marketplaces for digital goods and NFT backed media.
  • Retail stores featuring virtual goods.

According to Kondoudis, the 114-year-old company is taking these steps to protect its “UPS” brand, which is why these filings hold a lot of value. Thus through these filings, the company was preparing to dominate the virtual economy and become a major player in this space. Adding to the same, he said,

“We expect the number of trademark filings for NFT and virtual products and services from the shipping, logistics, and package delivery sector to increase in the next 12 months as brands come to appreciate the need for protection in the Metaverse.”

This is what the new trend is, and it’s alluring companies all over the globe to follow it or be outdated.

The Metaverse Dillemma

In the last few weeks, more companies have filed Metaverse trademarks applications than one would expect, and these companies aren’t limited to just one sector either.

Brands ranging from fashion to technology and music and fast food companies have been quick to file their trademarks in the Metaverse so that when the time comes, they will be equipped to establish their presence.

Last month KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell followed similar plans and set foot in the Metaverse. The month before that, McDonald’s did the same thing as well.

At the same time, the New York Stock Exchange and Victoria’s Secret too announced their intentions by filing for similar trademarks. And just yesterday, FXEmpire reported on MasterCard repeating this strategy for itself.

Thus, finding a pattern in these filings is pointless. The only driving factor behind these decisions is creating their brands’ presence in the quickly emerging virtual world.

The Metaverse hype is growing by the day, and companies are treating it as a marketing strategy, but whether or not it will be a long-term success is yet to be known since the space is still in its early stages.

Citi Gets Bullish, Projecting a $13 Trillion Metaverse by 2030

Key Insights:

  • On Thursday, Citi analysts projected the Web3 economy to reach $13 trillion by 2030.
  • Greater access to host use cases, including commerce, art, media, advertising, healthcare, and social collaboration, support the bullish outlook.
  • Significant infrastructure investment is needed to reach around five billion Metaverse users.

Market sentiment towards the Metaverse has turned yet more bullish. More mainstream players are entering the Metaverse. Trademark application filings suggest a marked increase in virtual engagement.

Across the broader crypto market, Metaverse-related news has been a key to price action. This week, Zilliqa (ZIL) has surged by more than 100% in response to Metaverse-related news updates on Metapolis. Metapolis is powered by Zilliqa.

With the increased activity and endless possibilities, banks have become particularly bullish with their Metaverse projections.

Citi Projects a $13 Trillion Metaverse and Five Billion Users

Citi delivered a bullish assessment of Web3 on Thursday.

An analyst report talked of the Metaverse becoming the next generation of the internet, bridging the digital and physical worlds in an immersive manner.

The report delivered two projections:

  • A narrow definition with Metaverse usage limited to VR/AR headset users. Analysts project 900m to 1bn users by 2030 and a total addressable market estimate of between $1tn and $2tn.
  • A broad definition, with the Metaverse having unique internet users. Analysts project 5bn users by 2030 and a total addressable market estimate of between $8tn and $13tn.

Citi views gaming as the primary Metaverse use case. Analysts expect the Metaverse to expand and allow people to find new ways to carry out everyday activities.

‘Enterprise use cases of the Metaverse in the coming years will likely include internal collaboration, client contact, sales and marketing, advertising, events and conferences, engineering and design, and workforce training.’

The report does highlight that in its current form, the internet infrastructure is inadequate for ‘building a fully-immersive content streaming Metaverse environment.’

Significant investment is needed to integrate the Metaverse with the real world. Low latency is considered a critical factor in delivering an appropriate user experience.

For a truly immersive Metaverse experience, the report highlights the need for sub-12ms latency and faster connectivity speeds.

In the Metaverse, NFTs will also be a key component. Users can store NFTs in digital wallets and take them everywhere within the Metaverse.

Big Names Take to the Metaverse Supporting Citi’s Outlook

Mainstream interest in Web3 has surged since the beginning of the year. Corporations across industries have entered the Metaverse or have filed Metaverse-related trademark applications.

In February, McDonald’s entered the Metaverse, giving fans a virtual experience to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Warner Music Group bought land in The Sandbox (SAND), with the fashion industry also going virtual.

Last week, a 4-day fashion week took place in Decentraland (MANA), with big names from the fashion industry present.

Sport has also embraced Web3. In January, Tennis Australia went virtual for the Australian Open. The Metaverse gave fans virtual access to Melbourne Park.

The increased activity had caught the eye of JPMorgan earlier this year.

JPMorgan Buys Land and Projects a $1tn Metaverse

In February, JPMorgan put its money where its mouth and bought land in Decentraland. The U.S investment bank is bullish on the Metaverse, forecasting a $1 trillion market.

JPMorgan talked of the limitless opportunities that the Metaverse presents, ranging from virtual workspaces to music artists holding concerts. As a result of these opportunities, the bank sees all types and sizes of companies entering the Metaverse.

JP Morgan highlighted many issues that need addressing. These range from taxation to policing activity.

As more industries enter the Metaverse, the more bullish projections will likely have a cascade effect, accelerating the pace of infrastructure investment and mainstream adoption.

KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell Plan NFTs and Metaverse Entries

Key Insights:

  • Three big names in the food industry have filed NFT and Metaverse trademark applications.
  • KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell follow in the footsteps of McDonald’s that went Metaverse for the Lunar New Year.
  • More are likely to follow to ensure they don’t miss out on NFT and Metaverse opportunities.

Despite continued government and regulatory scrutiny, more and more mainstream names are going virtual.

NFTs enable greater consumer engagement, with the Metaverse offering boundless opportunities and boundaryless revenue streams. Decentraland (MANA) and the Sandbox (SAND) are the two big Metaverse names.

In February, JPMorgan projected a $1 trillion Metaverse, indicative of the furor surrounding the Metaverse. The NFT space and the Metaverse have seen activity pick up markedly in recent months. Mainstream players are filing NFT and Metaverse-related trademarks to avoid being left behind.

Fast-food Giants File NFT and Metaverse-Retailed Trademark Applications

It’s been a busy few months for Metaverse trademark lawyers. On Wednesday, Mike Kondoudis took to Twitter to announce Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell trademark applications.

The fast-food names that fall under Yum! Brands filed trademark applications for their names and logos for:

  • Virtual foods + drinks
  • NFTs + NFT backed multimedia
  • Online stores featuring virtual goods.
  • Virtual restaurants with “actual and virtual goods”

Yum! Brands Follows McDonald’s and Other Big Names into the Metaverse

In February, McDonald’s entered the Metaverse, in celebration of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger.

McDonald’s partnered with Humberto Leon to dish out a zodiac collection in the Metaverse. For McDonald’s, it was consumer engagement at its best. Fans could view the Zodiac collection, have horoscope readings, relax in the McDonald’s lounge, light lanterns to release into the sky, and even give hongbao (red packets).

Since the Lunar New Year collaboration, McDonald’s also filed crypto, NFT, and Metaverse trademark applications.

Other food industry names, including Wendy’s, Panera Bread, Panda Express, Hooters, Dunkin Donuts, and Burger King, as well as Guy Fieri’s Flavortown, have also filed trademark applications.

The sheer number of applications filed this week alone suggests that a Metaverse Revolution is afoot. Other big names in the food industry will undoubtedly follow in what could also materially alter interaction with consumers.

According to Statista, McDonald’s spent approximately $654.7m on advertising worldwide in 2020. Direct access to consumers in the Metaverse would materially improve the bottom line for McDonald’s and other big ad spenders in the food industry.

Fashion Week Kicks Off in the Metaverse With Big Names Going Virtual

Key Insights:

  • Decentraland (MANA) is back in the news, with Fashion Week in full swing.
  • In February, Vogue Business announced a 4-day Fashion Week in Decentraland.
  • The collaboration between fashion, digital assets, and the Metaverse will continue to test the boundaries.

In February, FXEmpire reported news of a 4-day Fashion Week in Decentraland (MANA). The MVFW 4-day extravaganza will allow global brands and visitors to attend fashion shows virtually. Events will include live music and after-parties.

Fashion Week Takes the Industry to the Metaverse

On Wednesday, London retailer Selfridges opened its flagship Metaverse store to kick off #MVFW. The Selfridges flagship store is located on London’s famous Oxford Street and opened its doors in March 1909.

It is the second-largest shop in the UK behind Harrods and even featured in the 2017 movie Wonder Woman.

Over the 4-day event, more than 60 fashion brands, 500+ looks, 4+ after parties, and many artists will attend the event ending March 27.

Following the Selfridges virtual flagship opening, a full 113 years after the original, Estee Lauder debuted today, with other big names hitting Twitter to announce their arrival at MVFW.

Tommy Hilfiger also took to Twitter today, tweeting,

“Inspired by the next frontier of digital technology, #TimmyHilfiger will be adopting @BostonProtocol during #MVFW in @Decentraland to enable the sale of physical items as #NFTs in #BostonPortal.”

#MVFW Twitter activity demonstrates the power of the Metaverse and how fashion’s global expansion can accelerate through a virtual footprint.

At MVFW, attendees can also buy and wear digital clothing, with some digital catwalk collections redeemable for physical pieces.

2022 Looks Set to Become a Defining Year for Virtual Fashion

The start of #MVFW follows news of Space Runners announcing $10 million in financing to build an end-to-end Fashion Metaverse.

For the fashion world, MVFW is a big event and will be the start of something spectacular. In recent months, big fashion names have embarked on the virtual journey.

Last month, Victoria’s Secret filed trademark applications to join an ever-growing list of big names to enter the Metaverse. Victoria’s Secret followed big names in fashion and beyond, including Warner Music Group, McDonald’s, and Gucci.

Paxos Gets Monetary Authority of Singapore Approval

Key Insights:

  • Crypto trading and custody platform Paxos gets MAS approval.
  • Paxos becomes the first platform to receive licenses in New York and Singapore.
  • The latest approval further cements Singapore’s status as Asia’s crypto hub.

Launched in 2012, Paxos is a trading and custody services provider. As a crypto exchange, Paxos also supports Binance USD (BUSD) and Pax Dollar (USDP) and also offers users PAX Gold (PAXG).

Each PAXG token is backed by one fine troy ounce of a 400 Oz London Gold Delivery gold bar. PAXG holders own the underlying physical gold held in custody by Paxos Trust Company.

Paxos also builds blockchain solutions for institutional customers. These include Bank of America, Credit Suisse, Interactive Brokers, PayPal, and Société Generale.

Paxos has had a presence in Singapore since 2012, while also regulated by the New York Department of Finance Services.

Monetary Authority of Singapore Gives Paxos Coveted License

On Thursday, Paxos announced in-principal approval for a Major Payments Institution license from the MAS.

According to the announcement, Paxos became the first blockchain infrastructure platform to secure regulatory oversight in the financial hubs of New York and Singapore.

As a result of the MAS license, Paxos can offer its digital asset and blockchain products and services to Singaporean domiciled customers.

 

Co-Founder and CEO, Paxos Asia said,

We’re excited to have MAS as our regulator, and with their oversight, we’ll be able to safely accelerate consumer adoption of digital assets globally by powering regulated solutions for the world’s biggest enterprises.”

MAS sets a High Bar for Crypto-Related Firms

The MAS does not readily hand out licenses, as Binance discovered in 2021. Last year, Binance reportedly withdrew its Singapore license application for failing to meet MAS AML and KYC requirements.

A small number of other crypto-related shops have been more fortunate, however. In October, DBS Vickers obtained a license to offer digital payment token services.

At the time, the Australian crypto exchange Independent Reserve was reportedly the only foreign entity to hold a Singapore license to allow digital payment token services.

Before this week, only FOMO Pay and TripleA had obtained digital payment token services licenses alongside DBS Vickers and Independent Reserve.

This week, Swiss crypto bank Sygnum received in-principal approval to expand Singapore Capital Market Services (CMS) license. The Swiss crypto bank had previously held a Singapore Capital Markets Services (CMS) license for asset management since 2019.

The in-principal approval will allow Sygnum Bank to provide corporate finance advisory services, deal with capital market products, and provide custodial services.

Paxos and Sygnum Approvals a Boost for Hub Aspirations

Singapore and the MAS have been particularly active in the digital asset space. The Republic’s status as a global digital asset hub continues to evolve despite a high bar for platforms to meet.

Singapore’s high bar is evident in the number of applications the MAS has rejected. According to media reports, the MAS turned down 103 of 176 by December 2021.

In 2021, Binance withdrew its Singapore application for reportedly failing to meet MAS KYC and AML requirements. Since then, the MAS has also banned crypto exchange advertising in public.

This week’s news could be a shift in attitudes towards crypto-related firms. News of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek making strategic investments into the space could support such a view.

Temasek reportedly led a fresh fundraising round for the Australian NFT startup Immutable. A $200m funding round took the value of Immutable to $2.5bn, with investors including Tencent Holdings, Mirae Asset, and Declaration Partners, among others.

In February, Temasek had led a $200m round for Amber Group, a global digital assets platform.

Warner Brothers Goes NFT with DC Comic Trading Cards

Key Insights:

  • Warner Brothers announce the launch of hybrid DC Comics trading cards.
  • In partnership with Cartamundi, the trading cards will have an NFT component.
  • The hybrid cards are available this month, with new hybrids due out throughout the year.

Interest in NFTs and the Metaverse continues to rise, with numerous corporations exploring the virtual world. Big names include McDonald’s, Walmart, Red Bull, Victoria’s Secret, and many more.

Two names that have recently become active are Warner Brothers and Warner Music Group (WMG).

Warner Brothers Launches Hybrid DC Comic Trading Cards

This week, Warner Brothers announced plans to create DC Comics trading cards.

In collaboration with Cartamundi, Warner Brothers Consumer Products will launch hybrid physical and NFT trading cards. Hro, a new fan engagement platform, will deliver the NFT component of the DC trading cards.

With hybrid trading cards, fans can own a physical card, with an NFT element minted on Ethereum (ETH) based carbon neutral Immutable X.

As stated in the announcement,

“Each (Hybrid) card features unforgettable DC characters and will be equipped with a unique CR code that connects the physical card to its digital twin on the Hro app.”

The Hybrid cards will hit in-store and online platforms this month, with more cards out throughout the year.

On the Hro platform, there is a leaderboard with special rewards on offer. Hro also enables DC fans to engage with other fans across the network. The Hybrid packs will start at $4.99, with six different card sets available.

Featured products include a Chapter 1 24-pack Mega Booster Box, consisting of 168 cards, priced at $119.99.

Warner Bros and Warner Music Group Go Virtual

Last month, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Splinterlands collaborated to develop play-to-earn (P2E games). The P2E games will give players rewards that include NFTs. Players can then ‘trade, sell, or lease anything they earn in-game.’

Earlier this year, FXEmpire reported WMG going virtual by buying a beachfront property in The Sandbox (SAND). WMG plans to use the site as a musical theme park and a concert venue, which would allow WMG artists and fans to engage.

This week, news hit the wires of FTX hiring WB Games’ Boston head Steve Sadin. Sadin will reportedly become the head of the gaming partnership at FTX Gaming. FTX established a dedicated gaming unit in February.

Healthcare Giant CVS Files for NFT and the Metaverse-Related Trademarks

Key Insights:

  • CVS files NFT and Metaverse-related trademark applications.
  • Drugstores could follow in the footsteps of Walmart and deliver virtual shopping.
  • The healthcare sector could also benefit from blockchain, NFTs, and the Metaverse.

Interest in NFTs and the Metaverse has surged in recent months. A range of industries has taken to NFTs and the Metaverse. These include art, fashion, film, music, and sport.

In some countries, one sector that has been slow on the uptake is the healthcare sector. In the early days of Bitcoin (BTC), blockchain and crypto, the crypto sector identified blockchain attributes that would benefit the healthcare sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic and administrative burdens likely delayed the sector’s exploration of the digital world. This week, U.S healthcare giant CVS Health may be looking to break the mold.

CVS Health Applies for NFT and Metaverse-Related Trademarks

This week, CVS reportedly submitted a trademark application to sell “downloadable virtual goods” in the Metaverse.

According to the report, U.S. drugstore chain CVS aims to sell prescription drugs and other drugstore products in a virtual drugstore. CVS would then authenticate the products and sales with the use of NFTs.

The move by CVS comes after Walmart filed trademark applications in a move towards virtual stores in the Metaverse.

Virtual Drugstores and Healthcare Decentralization the Future Healthcare

As the U.S looks to return to some semblance of normality in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector will likely need to take a close look at the benefits of blockchain, cryptos, NFTs, and the Metaverse.

In 2020, we explored how blockchain would change lives, the global economy, and the world. At the time, immediate healthcare sector benefits included the removal of the paper trail, making patients’ medical records available on a decentralized ledger, which would provide data points to support the fight against virus and disease.

As the healthcare sector looks at lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, dissemination of information and access to critical data points could have arm healthcare workers with the necessary facts to combat viruses.

In October 2021, Forbes published an article exploring how blockchain could revolutionize healthcare. The report looks at reduced costs and new ways for patients to access healthcare. Forbes discusses one healthcare company called “Patientory.” Patientory sees blockchain networks capable of delivering a combination of transparency and privacy. Blockchain technology could give the healthcare sector access to medical data while withholding sensitive patient information. “Up-to-date patient histories and data, pandemic tracking and reporting, secure communication with verified healthcare personnel” form part of Patientory’s solutions.

For the healthcare sector, general practitioners and medical specialists could ease the strain by going Metaverse. While physical examinations need to be in person, some elements of the work could go virtual, which would reduce hospital traffic.

CVS Follows in the Footsteps of Other Mainstream U.S Corporations

In recent months, other major U.S corporations submitting NFT and Metaverse-related trademark applications include:

When considering the demise of department stores and the sharp increase in online retailing, the Metaverse could be the next best thing for online shoppers. Virtual stores could use NFTs to authenticate online sales.

One risk for the healthcare sector is the marked increase in illicit activity. Appropriate controls would need to be in place to protect personal data and personal privacy.

Manchester City Football Club Goes Metaverse

There has been plenty of interest in the Metaverse since the turn of the year. Music, fashion, and sport have all entered the virtual arena. Such has been the interest in the Metaverse that JPMorgan forecasts a $1 trillion Metaverse.

Some headline figures from JPMorgan’s “Opportunities in the Metaverse” include:

  • Spending on in-game ads to hit $18.41bn by 2027.
  • The average price of a parcel of virtual land doubled to $12,000 in just 6-months.
  • There are 200 strategic partners to date with The Sandbox, including Warner Music Group.
  • Each year, spending on virtual goods sits at $54bn.
  • Almost 60 billion messages are sent on Roblox each day.
  • NFTs currently have a $41 billion market capitalization.

Big Names and the Metaverse

In the last few months, some big names have entered the Metaverse. These include McDonald’s, Warner Music Group, and Victoria’s Secret. Last month, we reported on the Australian Open and the first-ever tennis tournament on Decentraland (MANA). The Australian Open replicated Melbourne Park in Decentraland, giving tennis fans a taste of Melbourne tennis.

Following the tennis foray in Decentraland, it was only a matter of time before other sports entered the virtual arena.

English Premier Club Manchester City FC Goes Metaverse

In recent days, news hit the wires of Manchester City Football Club partnering with Sony to deliver football to the Metaverse.

In a reported 3-year agreement, Manchester City has started to build the world’s first football stadium. According to the report, the Club sees a virtual Etihad Stadium accessible by fans globally. Sony representatives have visited the stadium to recreate the stadium in the Metaverse. The partnership offers endless opportunities, including fan engagement with the players. Soon, fans could also purchase virtual products, such as NFTs.

In the future, the ultimate goal will be to allow fans to experience the live setting of a Manchester City FC home game from home.

Such an eventuality could prove lucrative for the world’s leading football clubs. Clubs can air their home games in the Metaverse, removing the need for broadcasters. According to a CNBC report, NBC retained the U.S. English and Spanish-language broadcasting rights to the English Premier League with a bid of more than $2.7bn over 6-years.

NYSE Files NFT and Metaverse Related Trademark Applications

The flurry of NFT and the Metaverse related activity continue to hit the news wires this week. As activity grows, trading volumes and lucrative fees also rise, drawing the interest of mainstream market places.

The New York Stock Exchange

Located on Wall Street, the NYSE is the world’s largest stock exchange. Founded under a buttonwood tree in 1792, the exchange evolved from a group of just 24 stockbrokers and adopted its current name in 1863. Ownership was controlled by members, capped at 1,366 since 1953 until members became shareholders in December 2005. In anticipation of a change in structure, some seats on the exchange sold for as much as $4m. Significantly, the exchange was an instrumental part of the U.S industrial revolution.

On the regulatory front, it was the 1929 crash that placed the NYSE under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The NYSE and U.S Companies Pave the Way for NFTs and the Metaverse

Ahead of the NYSE application, a number of U.S listed companies have filed similar trademark applications. These include Microsoft (MSFT), Warner Brothers (AT&T), and McDonald’s (MCD). Back in April 2021, even the NYSE minted NFTs in celebration of first trades for Coupang, DoorDash, Roblox, Snowflake, Spotify, and Unity. Each NFT is a short video clip providing details of the first trade. The Spotify NFT is viewable on Crypto.com (CRO).

NYSE Looks to Expand to NFTs and the Metaverse

Late last week, the New York Stock Exchange filed a trademark application that suggests new endeavors in NFTs and the Metaverse.

According to the trademark application, the NYSE aims to provide an online market place for buyers, sellers, and traders of:

  • Downloadable digital goods authenticated by NFTs;
  • Virtual and digital assets, artwork, collectibles, and NFTs;
  • Digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital tokens, crypto tokens, and utility tokens.
  • Downloadable digital art images authenticated by NFTs.

Additionally, the application requests for

  • Developing and designing virtual retail stores, virtual stores, and virtual showrooms.

With regulatory scrutiny on the rise, the New York Stock Exchange’s expansion into NFTs and the Metaverse will be an interesting one to watch.

JPMorgan Projects a $1 Trillion Metaverse

The hot topics of the month continue to be NFTs and the Metaverse. A sharp increase in interest from mainstream players and rise in NFT and Metaverse related trademark applications point to a big year ahead for digital assets and virtual reality.

In February, NFT trading volumes may have pulled back from January’s record highs. Based on news traffic, however, it could prove to be a breather. For the Metaverse, corporations and industries are drawn to boundless opportunities that the Metaverse presents.

Major Names Take to the Metaverse

It’s been an active start to the year for the Metaverse, with some big names entering the virtual world. Last week, Gucci bought LAND in the Sandbox (SAND). This follows McDonald’s and its celebration of the Year of the Tiger. Music giant Warner Music Group bought a beachfront plot in Decentraland (MANA). Following news of Tennis Australia going virtual for the Australian open, even a 4-day digital fashion week is planned for Decentraland.

Considering the level of interest and quick progress to establishing events in the Metaverse, more mainstream players are likely to want to play catchup. The Metaverse removes boundaries, giving access to a global audience.

This week, beauty and lingerie powerhouse Victoria’s Secret joined the growing list of leading brands with Metaverse ambitions.

JPMorgan and a $1 Trillion Price Prediction

JPMorgan has put its money where its mouth is and has also bought land in Decentraland. The U.S investment bank has become bullish on the Metaverse, forecasting a $1 trillion market in a recently released paper.

Titled “Opportunities in the Metaverse” JPMorgan talks of the limitless opportunities that the Metaverse presents. These range from the likes of Microsoft creating virtual workspaces to music artists holding concerts. As a result of the opportunities, the bank sees all types and sizes of companies entering the Metaverse.

Some headline figures from the paper included:

  • Spending on “in-game ads” to hit $18.41bn by 2027.
  • Average price of a parcel of virtual land doubled to $12,000 in just 6-months.
  • There are 200 strategic partners to date with The Sandbox, including Warner Music Group.
  • Each year, spending on virtual goods sits at $54bn.
  • Almost 60 billion messages are sent on Roblox each day.
  • NFTs current have a market cap of $41 billion.

With regulatory scrutiny over NFTs and the Metaverse on the rise, JP Morgan noted that many issues needed addressing, including:

  • Regulatory, tax, and accounting treatment of Web 3.0 digital real estate / property and virtual world commercial transactions.
  • Adept navigation of regulatory, tax, and accounting treatment of primarily Web 2.0 virtual worlds with web 3.0 digital assets.
  • Support virtual worlds that are globally accessible but may have local jurisdictional requirements and rules related to commerce and payments.
  • Evolution of community governance. (Who sets the rules in the virtual worlds?).

Today’s Virtual vs Tomorrow’s Reality

Considering the above issues and the pace at which corporations are entering the Metaverse, a major regulatory shift is likely. Today, JP Morgan may have a lounge in Decentraland, tomorrow it could be virtual offices. Virtual office space would strip major fixed costs from company expenses. The COVID-19 pandemic and work from home policies proved that organizations can remain a “going concern” without entire workforces “in office”.

Late last year, we reported of more than 1,300 Chinese companies filing for Metaverse related trademarks by mid-December. A few months earlier, the number of filings had stood at just over 100.

Victoria’s Secret Plans NFTs and Entry into the Metaverse

Mainstream corporate interest in NFTs and the Metaverse has continued going into February.

This is in spite of a sharp fall in NFT trading activity through the early part of February. NFT trading activity had hit an all-time high in January, with OpenSea leading the way.

Major Brands Continue to Go NFT and Metaverse

In recent weeks, a number of major brands and corporations have filed for NFT and Metaverse-related trademarks.

Last week, we reported Gucci’s LAND purchase in the Sandbox (SAND). Back in 2021, Gucci had already collaborated with Roblox to host the “Gucci Garden”. This was a virtual version of a real-world installation in Italy, offering themed rooms in commemoration of Gucci’s centenary.

Major brands have also been embracing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in rising numbers.

Gucci was among the first luxury fashion houses to sell NFTs, with Louis Vuitton, Prada, and sports brands Adidas and Nike also active in the NFT space. The rise in interest has been so significant that Nike purchased digital collectibles and sneakers creator RTFKT last year.

With Gucci and the likes of McDonald’s and Warner Music Group entering the Metaverse, it was only a matter of time before fashion week took to the Metaverse. Last week, Vogue Business announced on Twitter a 4-day digital fashion week in Decentraland (MANA) commencing 24th March.

Global brands and visitors will be able to virtually experience fashion shows, attend live music sessions and the after-parties. Attendees can also buy and wear digital clothing directly from catwalk avatars.

Some of the digital catwalk collections can be redeemed to receive the brand’s physical pieces. Buyers will need an Ethereum (ETH) wallet to purchase clothing.

Following last week’s news, beauty and lingerie powerhouse Victoria’s Secret joins the growing list of leading brands to enter the Metaverse.

Victoria’s Secret Plans Metaverse Debut

On Sunday, Mike Kondoudis, a trademark attorney, announced on Twitter trademark applications made by Victoria’s Secret.

According to Kondoudis, Victoria’s Secret “plans to offer digital collectibles and media created with blockchain tech and online clothing and media for use in virtual environments”. Victoria’s Secret filed the applications on 8th February.

The Sandbox Price Action

On Sunday, SAND slid by 3.79% to end the day at $4.06. Risk aversion stemming from the rising risk of Russia invading Ukraine weighed on SAND and the broader crypto market.

At the time of writing, SAND was down by 3.59% to $3.916. A move through February’s high $4.87 would bring January’s high $6.03 into play. SAND would need plenty of support from the broader market, however, for a breakout from $5.00 levels.

A move back through to $6.00 levels would then give SAND a clear run at November’s ATH $8.48. Breaking down resistance at $7.00 would be key, however. Geopolitical risks will need to subside to support the more bullish SAND price predictions.

SANDUSD 140222

McDonald’s Applies for Metaverse Trademarks

At the start of the month, McDonald’s got a taste of the Metaverse. In celebration of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger, McDonald’s partnered with Humberto Leon to roll out a Zodiac collection in the Metaverse.

McDonald’s First Metaverse Success

From 1st February to 15th February, fans can enter AltspaceVR and Spatial, virtual reality platforms, to view the Zodiac collection. Horoscope readings are also on offer for fans who explore the collection. Those entering the space can also relax in the McDonald’s lounge that features a lantern display. Entrants can light their own lanterns to release them into the sky. And, in the tradition of giving hongbao, symbolizing luck for the near year, fans can even share a red envelopes with other fans.

McDonald’s Takes a More Permanent Step into the Metaverse

Following the partnership with Humberto Leon, trademark attorney Josh Gerben announced on Twitter that McDonald’s had submitted 10 trademark applications. In Wednesday’s tweet, Gerben added that the applications indicated plans to offer a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods and operating a virtual restaurant featuring home delivery.

Looking at the individual trademark applications shared by Gerben, McDonald’s plans to offer:

  • Downloadable multimedia files containing artwork, text, audio, and video files, and NFTs.
  • Entertainment services including providing online actual and virtual concerts and other virtual events.
  • Operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods and a virtual restaurant online, featuring home delivery.

The applications were not just for McDonald’s but also McCafe. Trademark attorney Gerben had been in the news just last month, tweeting news of Blockbuster filing a trademark application in a bid to offer a Blockbuster-branded:

  • Cryptocurrency.
  • Marketplace for buying and selling NFTs.
  • Metaverse environment.

Metaverse Linked Price Predictions for 2022

According to a report published late last year, SAND and MANA are two leading projects in the Metaverse space. Both tokens were amongst the best performers last year. The markets are expecting more of the same as interest in the Metaverse grows. Morgan Stanley analysts reportedly see the Metaverse potentially growing to an $8tn market.

Gartner Sees the Metaverse as a Growth of Digital Business

Metaverses have become more popular in recent months, especially in the crypto world as adoption increases.

Research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of all people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, socializing, or entertainment, according to a press release.

As the metaverse trend grows, there is a transition towards new business models that extend digital business, the consulting firm said.

Marty Resnick, research vice president at Gartner, commented:

“By 2026, 30% of the organizations in the world will have products and services ready for metaverse.”

Gartner’s Thoughts About the Metaverse

The press release mentioned that the metaverse will impact all the businesses that consumers use every day. Gartner also expects that metaverses will have their own digital economies with the use of digital currencies and NFTs.

When it comes to enterprises, the metaverse will provide their employees a better experience in a digital workspace. The metaverse also will bring companies the infrastructure they need to run the business.

Finally, as we went working to our homes because of the pandemic, virtual events are now more common than before, and with the metaverse there could be more networking opportunities such as online workshops.

What’s Next for the Metaverse?

As crypto global adoption continues, a lot of big names have joined the metaverse, such as Warner Music Group (WMG), Adidas, and McDonald’s.

Not only are big names entering the metaverse, nowadays, but there are also “metaverses mortgages”, metaverse casinos, metaverse weddings, metaverse art galleries, and more things happening in the digital world.

Most of all of these new experiences have been happening in metaverses known as Decentraland (MANA) and The Sandbox (SAND). Both metaverses have their own digital currency and are built on the Ethereum network. 

With the metaverse hype, both MANA and SAND have positioned themselves as the principal metaverse coins. 

Last month, Crypto.com commented that global crypto users can reach 1 billion by this December. In December 2021, there were 295 million users in the crypto world, according to their statement.

Gartner’s prediction would not be that insane by 2026 if crypto users reach one billion by late this year.

There is no doubt MANA and SAND will lead the way to other metaverse-related coins as crypto adoption continues.

Decentraland Hosts First Ever U.S Metaverse Wedding

Since late last year, the Metaverse continues to draw plenty of interest from mainstream players from across the world.

Big Names Enter the Metaverse in 2022

Last month, Warner Music Group (WMG) announced that it had gone Metaverse with a Sandbox (SAND) theme park. Following WMG’s entry into the Metaverse, U.S fast-food chain McDonalds partnered with Humberto Leon to roll out a Zodiac collection within the Metaverse. The collaboration was in recognition of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger. From 1st February to 15th February, fans can enter AltspaceVR and Spatial, virtual reality platforms. Here, fans can view the Zodiac collection and more. Humberto Leon is the co-founder of fashion brand Opening Ceremony, with retail stores across the world.

Not all the news has been positive, however, with news of Metaverse sexual harassment forcing the Korean government to take action. While regulators have taken a closer look at NFTs, the Metaverse had drawn less interest. China central bank, the People’s Bank of China, had been among the first to raise concerns over the Metaverse.

In spite of concerns over the Metaverse being a pathway for illegal activities, the number of events in the Metaverse continues to rise.

First Metaverse Wedding Takes Place in Decentraland

On Friday, a wedding took place in Decentraland (MANA). According to the news, a couple wed with their digital identities. Rose Law Group formalized the marriage in what was claimed to be the first ever U.S Metaverse wedding.

Rose Law Group hosted the wedding on its very own Decentraland estate. The law firm also went on to place the marriage on the blockchain as an NFT. Guests were also able to get a rare NFT party favor that represented the historic event.

There has been some debate over the legality of the wedding, however, despite the involvement of Rose Law Group. According to the American Marriage Ministries (AMM), all states that allow virtual online weddings require officiants and couples to use video-conferencing technology that allows them to see and hear each other in real-time, without anything that distorts their appearance. Therefore, Metaverse weddings won’t be legally binding until there is a law change.

Metaverse Linked Price Predictions for 2022

According to a report published late last year, SAND and MANA are two leading projects in the Metaverse space. Both tokens were amongst the best performers last year. The markets are expecting more of the same as interest in the Metaverse grows. Morgan Stanley analysts reportedly see the Metaverse potentially growing to an $8tn market.

A Shiba Inu-Themed Restaurant Has Opened Its Doors

Fast-food restaurant chains like McDonald’s are entering into the metaverse, while Blockchain-based projects are taking root in the real world like Shiba Inu.

After a huge “partnershib” involving Shiba Inu’s lead developer Shytoshi Kusama, a decentralized fast-food restaurant was created.

The blockchain-based “burger joint” fast-food restaurant is now open and it is called Welly’s. It is located in Via Sannazaro, 4 in Naples, Italy.

In less than one week, the restaurant made a whole new rebrand that includes the Shiba Inu dog as its official image and new packaging materials and listening to new marketing strategies.

The cryptocurrency SHIB is accepted in Welly’s, and with the upcoming launch of Shibarium, the Layer 2 network, it will improve its scalability, making transactions cheaper and faster. 

About Welly’s Story

In 2021, the restaurant opened with a specific vision of providing healthy fast food and giving their customers an extra value which was giving them attention in addition to giving them high-quality food.

The team behind the restaurant had a lot of interest in crypto, they started thinking of the growth of the restaurants, and developed a plan to sell NFTs, however, this wasn’t enough. 

Then the founders of the restaurant started to think about the fundamentals of crypto, which is decentralization, and how the SHIB community could become part of the project. Finally, the founders pitched the idea to Shytoshi Kusama and the deal was made.

Shytoshi Kusama commented:

“..the Shib community can take part in the deployment of new stores through making choices in the Doggy Dao, purchasing NFTs for exclusive benefits, or just enjoying good food and sharing our vision with those who still think we are just a meme”

Could Welly’s Be a Trigger for the Price of SHIB?

SHIB is the 15th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization with $12.18 billion and trading at $0.00002028 and is down 4.4% in the last 24 hours.

The cryptocurrency is still down 74.34% from its all-time high of $0.00008035 in October 2021, forming a descending channel since, and finding support in the last days around $0.000020, as you can see below:

SHIB/USD Chart. Source: FXEmpire.

In the past 24 hours, the whole crypto market is down 5.45% with a bearish sentiment, according to CoinMarketCap. SHIB hasn’t reflected any positive impact on its price after the partnership was announced.

With Shibarium coming up and the help of the SHIB community, let’s see if both things can help to expand the business.

With Welly’s growth, the meme coin could start changing its consideration as a meme coin, and this could have a positive impact on the price, but only time will tell.

Elon Musk and Dogecoin Earns Litecoin Creator Praise

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin, one of the largest crypto assets by market cap, has hailed the popular meme coin, Dogecoin, for its role in driving mainstream adoption of the crypto industry. 

Lee went on to describe the meme token as being “great” and “pretty fun.”

Elon Musk and Dogecoin Helped Push Crypto Mainstream 

In a recent interview, the Litecoin creator conceded that the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, also played a role in making cryptocurrencies “a mainstream topic.”

His praise of Elon Musk and Dogecoin is unsurprising considering the role both have played in bridging the gap between the crypto industry and the mainstream public.

The SpaceX CEO has severally spoken about digital assets like Bitcoin, and others on his Twitter page. Apart from that, his electric car maker company, Tesla, currently accepts Dogecoin as a payment option for its products. 

This is coming after the same company invested heavily in Bitcoin last year and also briefly accepted the coin as a means of payment for its vehicles.

Aside from that, most of the spikes seen in the price of Dogecoin in 2021 were largely thanks to the tweets of the billionaire. Just recently, he urged McDonald’s to accept the meme coin as a payment option for its foods.

Notably, Dogecoin was launched in 2013 from a defunct Litecoin fork called “Lucky Coin.” Its popularity however soared last year thanks to Elon Musk and the GameStop stock saga. 

Litecoin Privacy-focused Upgrade is Finally Live

Litecoin is undoubtedly one of the oldest altcoins in the market as it is a Bitcoin fork for the best part of the last decade.

Recently, the network implemented its long-awaited privacy upgrade, tagged Mimblewimble. Like Monero, this upgrade would allow users to be able to keep their financial transactions away from the prying eyes of the public.

According to Lee, this upgrade will enable users to spend without the need to bother about privacy issues. With this upgrade, only the parties involved in a transaction are able to know the amount that was transacted.

Interestingly, Charlie Lee does not hold any units of Litecoin. In 2018, he sold all of his holdings right before the market crashed. This led to accusations of inside trading. 

However, Lee has denied any wrongdoing saying his focus is on how the project’s technologies work and not how these upgrades affect the asset’s price performance.

As of press time, Litecoin is trading for $112.

McDonald’s Goes Metaverse for the Year of the Tiger

It’s been a busy start to the year for the NFT marketplace and for the Metaverse. Just last week, news had hit the wires of Warner Music Group going Metaverse with a Sandbox (SAND) theme park.

While demand for land in the Metaverse has been on the rise, a number of regulators hold a negative view on the Metaverse and virtual assets in general.

Current Metaverse Regulatory Landscape

At present, Metaverse regulatory oversight is on the lighter side, with growth in the space yet to draw the interest of regulators globally. The Metaverse has caught the eye of a number of regulators, however.

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has been one regulator that has voiced concerns over NFTs and the Metaverse. Late last year, we reported of a surge in China company applications for Metaverse trademarks. Firms including Huawei Technologies and Tencent have applied for trademarks in spite of warnings from the PBoC The PBoC’s AML unit has reportedly claimed that the Metaverse represents threats by providing a pathway for illegal activities.

While the PBoC has raised concerns, at the turn of the year there were reports of Cities in China going Metaverse. Last month, news hit the wires of China’s 9th most populous city, Wuhan City, proceeding to integrate with the Metaverse and blockchain.

While regulatory scrutiny is unlikely to abate any time soon, mainstream companies will likely continue to enter the Metaverse. Unlike the adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets, firms appear to more actively exploring the Metaverse and NFTs.

McDonald’s Enters the Metaverse

Overnight, news hit the wires of U.S fast-food chain McDonald’s partnering with Humberto Leon to rolling out a Zodiac collection within the Metaverse. The collaboration is in recognition of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger.

From 1st February to 15th February, fans can enter AltspaceVR and Spatial, virtual reality platforms, to view the Zodiac collection. Horoscope readings are also on offer for fans who explore the collection. Fans can also relax in the McDonald’s lounge. The lounge features a lantern display and fans can light their own lanterns to release into the sky. In the tradition of giving hongbao, fans can even share virtual red packets with other fans.

Humberto Leon is the co-founder of fashion brand Opening Ceremony, with retail stores across the world.

Metaverse Linked Price Predictions for 2022

According to a report published late last year, SAND and MANA are two leading projects in the Metaverse space. Both tokens were amongst the best performers last year. The markets are expecting more of the same as interest in the Metaverse grows. Morgan Stanley analysts reportedly see the Metaverse potentially growing to an $8tn market.