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Utkarsh Shukla, founder and CEO of YUG Metaverse, says the events were a preliminary ploy to gain a foothold in space. “We build a lot of tools. You will see us creating a number of experiences.”
According to Deloitte, the Indian NFT market is expected to reach $1 billion. There are national NFT marketplaces such as Wazir X NFT Marketplace (the first cryptocurrency platform that forayed into NFTs in June 2021) and GuardianLink’s BeyondLife.Club, as well as organized NFT platforms such such as Fantico, which focuses on niches such as celebrity NFTs and rare pieces, books and poems.
While WazirX Marketplace caters to both individuals and brands and has launched Lakme India Fashion Week and Sunburn Music Festival NFTs, GuardianLink is currently only working with businesses. “The brands we work with are mostly Fortune 500 companies. We manage their NFT P&L and are working on a long-term revenue sharing agreement,” says Subramaniam. GuardianLink has already signed on the dotted line with 10 companies. Each brand has planned 3,000-15,000 NFTs for $10-100. Some are priced $150-250 or even $1000 higher. “The sweet-spot is $10-$50 and almost all of them traded at a quadruple premium,” Subramaniam claims. Launched in 2020, GuardianLink is backed by $12 million in Series A funding from Kalaari Capital.
On the other hand, platforms like FanCraze, Colexion, and Rario are NFT sports platforms. FanCraze has a three-year deal with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the rights to its catalog of video and audio clips dating back to 1975. Like Vista Media Capital, there are a host of niche NFT platforms on the way. Trace Network Labs is building a fashion metaverse platform and claims to have already signed with over 30 global brands. Similarly, Gurgaon-based web 3.0 gaming startup Totality Corp is developing a gaming metaverse platform. GuardianLink recently launched NFT gaming marketplace Jump.Trade. “You can buy NFTs, play games and earn money. Our first game is Meta Cricket League, an NFT cricket game where users can buy cricketers as NFTs. They could use them to play the game and make money,” explains Subramaniam. Globally, sports NFTs alone are expected to generate more than $22 billion in transactions in 2022, according to Deloitte. By the end of 2022, four to five million sports fans worldwide are believed to have purchased NFTs or received NFT sports collectibles, he adds.
All of these NFT platforms also create metaverse solutions. NFTs are for them a precursor to the metaverse. Revenue models for niche marketplaces and platforms are almost the same. Apart from the platform fee charged to the creator, they also earn 5-10% of the royalty that the creator receives each time an NFT is resold. The revenue share of niche platforms is slightly higher. While Fantico has dropped 300 NFTs so far, Wazir X since its launch in June last year has sold 25,000 NFTs. “Every time an NFT is sold, the royalty goes to the creator and we get a 15-20% share on average,” says Abhayanand Singh, Founder and CEO of Vistas Media Capital, owner of Fantico.
Invact Metaversity, former director of Twitter India, Manish Maheshwari, will have a 3D immersive virtual learning platform that houses various virtual university campuses. The university, due to launch in May, has already enrolled 60 students on a waiting list of 800. The current focus is on higher education; the 16-week Invact Business Fellowship Program is priced at ₹2 lakh. “Institutions like IIT-Madras contacted us,” says Maheshwari. At the Invact Metaversity campus, a student from Mumbai can date a friend from Delhi. They can even order food from Zomato and Swiggy; it will be delivered to your home.
India has over 200 million gamers and this is the immediate metaverse opportunity for gamers, says Anshul Rustaggi whose Totality Corp is developing a culture and culture-themed gaming metaverse platform, Zionverse. Indian mythology.
Eve’s World, founded by media industry veteran Tarun Katial (former CEO of ZEE5), is a decentralized social crypto platform, which will focus on building communities for women. “We will also allow them to list their NFTs on other platforms,” says Katial.
Universe of catalysts
Indian IT majors also play an important role in building metaverse ecosystems. With the domestic market still nascent, companies such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro are developing solutions for global markets. TCS leverages cloud, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to create extended reality solutions. “TCS AvapresenceTM Foundry (the company’s metaverse solution) consists of core extended reality elements, used to assemble solution offerings across industry verticals, including retail, manufacturing , healthcare and life sciences,” says Ashok Maharaj, Head of Extended Reality Labs, TCS. The company is building an NFT marketplace for a major media company in the United States and a mall on the metaverse for a fashion retailer. It also creates virtual branches for a leading bank in the UK.
Infosys, meanwhile, has set up an immersive retail environment for the Australian Open where fans can purchase branded merchandise and have it delivered to their homes. The computer science major created a digital twin of a vaccine lab for a large pharmaceutical company that helped quality engineers access critical data and make decisions. “We started with enterprise AR/VR seven or eight years ago, evolving into a more experiential XR (extended reality), followed by a strong blockchain practice. IoT, applied AI, digital twin engineering and cloud are already mature practice areas for us,” said S. Ravi Kumar, president of Infosys.
Among the most active is Tech Mahindra, who calls his metaverse practice TechMVerse. The company has already launched solutions including Middlemist, a platform through which it allows artists to list their artworks as NFTs. Director of Digital Services Kunal Purohit said the company is recruiting partners capable of delivering 3D content.
L&T Infotech has set up a dedicated metaverse unit within its global technology office to focus on co-innovation, implement use cases for customers, and provide consulting services. “We receive inquiries from clients in the media, technology and financial services industry. A few customers are taking steps to move their consumer-facing apps to AR/VR-enabled,” says CEO and Managing Director Sanjay Jalona.