The Metaverse is Impossible Without Interoperability, Necessitating Infrastructure like Mural to be Realized
As the idea of the metaverse continues to gain traction, an increasing number of metaverse projects are emerging on Ethereum and beyond. Yet, like the broader DeFi industry, these projects remain largely siloed from one another, holding back the metaverse from realizing its full potential.
Interoperability is a large part of what sets apart the metaverse from simple video gaming. In video games, users purchase “game” items with either game or real money, but these items have no utility or value outside of whatever project they exist along. In contrast, the metaverse represents an online ecosystem with real value, where assets can be used and transacted both on and off their native platform.
Thus, if the metaverse is truly going to take off as predicted, it must be fully interoperable, with all separate metaverse projects connecting together to create one all-encompassing metaverse.
Composable Finance’s Mural NFT transferal system provides the infrastructure for a unified metaverse, wherein users are able to freely and seamlessly travel between various metaverse platforms. Only when complete interoperability is unlocked will the metaverse provide users with maximum utility and value.
The Metaverse Ethos is Rooted in Interoperability
For those unfamiliar with or need a refresher on the metaverse, Decrypto provides a definition here and explores how this fits into the crypto and blockchain spaces. To summarize, the metaverse involves virtual worlds where users have avatars and assets that can be moved around and leveraged in various ways and places.
A defining feature of the metaverse is therefore the real value and utility of the digital assets found therein. This real value lies in their ability to be used in multiple settings and in multiple ways, on and off the main platform. This idea should feel familiar: we’re talking about cross-ecosystem utility, a topic that I and others have explored in great depth across the DeFi space.
While there is some degree of interoperability within metaverse projects (i.e. between these projects and others on the same chain or layer), helping assets on these projects to continue to have value, these projects are not interoperable with other metaverse projects on different chains or layers. As we have seen in the rest of DeFi, facilitating a greater degree of interoperability opens up a greater financial opportunity, unlocking new earning potential with each new connection facilitated.
Thus, if metaverse projects can all be linked into one large metaverse, there will be maximal financial opportunities, not to mention the best user experience possible while gaming, earning money, and beyond.
The Metaverse is Expanding, Yet Siloed
The metaverse is a concept that has turned into a buzzword in recent months but has been an integral part of decentralized finance since its inception — even when the word “metaverse” is not directly used.
DeFi was created to provide users with a means to move around assets for various utilities like lending and gaming — meeting this definition for the metaverse. Non-fungible-tokens (NFTs) have pushed DeFi even deeper into the vision for the metaverse, providing the capability for ownership over unique digital assets such as digital real estate or art.
The creation of blockchain-powered virtual worlds like Decentraland and The Sandbox has expanded these features to virtual worlds. These projects allow users to buy and build on top of virtual land, creating NFT art galleries, decentralized games, virtual homes, and more. Virtual real estate on these platforms and others has thus become an incredibly hot commodity (with a good overview here). This has enabled the metaverse to be fully deployed as it now mirrors a real universe, with heavy overlap and roots within the DeFi space.
While Decentraland and The Sandbox are built along with Ethereum, the metaverse is expanding cross-chain, following the trends seen across the DeFi industry. A prime example is Portals, a Solana-powered metaverse project that recently raised $5 million in its seed round. The metaverse has also spread across different layers of Ethereum. For instance, Bloktopia is a metaverse decentralized gaming platform with NFT rewards, built on Polygon’s Ethereum layer 2 solutions.
Given its deep integration into the DeFi space, it makes sense that the metaverse suffers many of the same limitations as DeFi — in particular, lack of interoperability. Luckily, this is a problem that can be overcome, just as the lack of interoperability in the rest of the DeFi space can be overcome — with interoperable infrastructures, such as that provided by Composable Finance.
Visions for an Entirely Interoperable Metaverse
There is clearly a wide variety of projects developing in the metaverse, targeting areas like gaming, art, socialization, money-making, and more. Uniting these various metaverse projects will create a diverse and highly useful singular metaverse, resulting from the connections of all of these other virtual worlds. Users can thus take an asset from one metaverse and be able to transfer it directly to another for use there. For example, a user could take their NFT rewards earned from Bloktopia (on Polygon) and directly move them into a gallery they create on Decentraland (on mainnet) to show off their gaming prowess.
New use cases also ultimately mean new financial opportunities. Thus, having the metaverse achieve interoperability will mean that its users can have access to an even greater value in this space than is currently projected. To put this into perspective, Bloomberg has estimated the metaverse space to be worth $800 billion by 2024, while Grayscale has stated the market will potentially hit the $1 trillion market at some point. Interoperability could even increase these numbers, meaning that the metaverse will be more fun, useful, and rewarding than current estimates encapsulate.
Facilitating a Unified Metaverse with Composable’s Mural NFT Transferal System
While the current disconnect within the metaverse greatly limits the space, Composable Finance has already developed the technology to overcome this limitation: Mural.
Mural is Composable’s cross-layer, cross-chain NFT transferral protocol that falls within the larger Mosaic cross-layer, cross-chain asset transferral system. Mural is specifically designed for NFT compatibility, with these assets being an essential component of the metaverse that currently lack interoperability. Prior to Mural, NFTs used to be particularly difficult to transfer to different layers and chains, as they are unique, and non-fungible (i.e. cannot be swapped for another token, even of a similar kind).
Mural uses the Mosaic bridging technology to allow users to lock an original NFT on its source location, creating a single representation of the NFT on the destination chain or layer. Moving the NFT back to its original location (or yet another new location) involves additional locking and minting. As a result, there are two different contract addresses but the same jpeg image for the NFT. The NFT retains its non-fungible nature, as there can only be one unlocked version of the NFT at any given time. A more detailed description of Mural and how it facilitates NFT interoperability can be found here. You can also refer to the Composable Gitbook for Mural transfer flow and contract details.
Moonbeans, one of the fastest-growing NFT marketplaces on Moonriver, is the first project to integrate Mural. This gives it the capability to accept and send NFTs to and from projects on any of the chains or layers that Mosaic is connected to. Currently, Mosaic bridges the Ethereum mainnet, a number of scaling and layer 2 solutions (Arbitrium, Avalanche C-Chain, Polygon, and Fantom), as well as Moonriver, a Kusama project which allows us a connection to the Polkadot ecosystem. Composable is actively seeking additional chains and layers to integrate with Mosaic, which further increases the utility of Mosaic to any projects that integrate it.
Composable is also beginning to seek out integrations for Mural with metaverse projects, given that Mural provides the means for these projects to achieve interoperability for the NFTs they so heavily use. If metaverse projects incorporate Mural, they will also be able to connect with any platforms using the layers and chains linked in Mosaic, providing streamlined connections to other metaverse projects.
The end result will embody the ultimate vision of a unified metaverse, similar to the globalized world we live in today — where people can travel freely; buy, sell, and use various goods and services across locations and borders; alternate between work and play; communicate with people from all over the world, and ultimately interact as they please with the world around them.
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If you are a developer with a project you think fits our ecosystem and goals, and you would like to participate in an interactive testing landscape with the team at Composable Labs, please send a direct message to @ComposableL on Twitter.