Why Digital Identity Will Determine Whether the Metaverse Succeeds or Fails

Despite the hype and potential, much work remains to be done to establish the fundamentals that will make the Metaverse a safe experience for all. Access, in particular, must be supported by verified identities.

Many brands, including Coca-Cola, Nike, and Disney, are developing Metaverse experiences, but the virtual space remains a hazy concept. Even the most eager stakeholders don’t fully understand it, and there’s a long way to go before the potential applications of virtual worlds become clear.

What Is Metaverse?

The Metaverse, according to Caitlyn Ryan, EMEA VP of Meta’s Creative Shop, is “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.” To summarize, it is an immersive platform where people can collaborate, socialize, and share an experience. With reports indicating that the total value of the Metaverse is expected to reach $36 billion by 2025, it’s no surprise that business leaders are eager to learn more about its true potential.

What Is the Significance of Identity in the Metaverse?

Despite the hype and potential, much work remains to be done to establish the fundamentals that will make the Metaverse a safe experience for all. Access, in particular, must be supported by verified identities. Anonymous bots can cause havoc in the Metaverse because their digital identity is not verified. Impersonators can harm a company’s, person’s, or celebrity’s brand and reputation, not to mention the new opportunities it creates for scammers and fraudsters. Assuring trusted digital identity will thus be critical to the safety and success of the system.

In the Metaverse, appearances can be deceiving, as they are in the real world. People will be able to make digital avatars of them. This emphasizes the importance of associating such an avatar with a genuine human identity. The potential for fraud is greater than ever in virtual worlds where appearance can be customized.

This may not appear to pose an immediate threat, but for large organizations, it opens the door to malicious actors. Scanning faces or photos to create avatars of real-life likenesses without first ensuring that the likeness and the person creating it match could open the door to fraud and system mistrust.

For example, as the trading of digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs becomes more popular and potentially profitable, the Metaverse may become a clear target for fraudsters and cybercriminals.

Is It Possible to Remain Anonymous in the Metaverse?

Regardless of how an individual’s avatar appears, it is critical that others believe they are who they claim to be. In most cases, this means highlighting in the Metaverse when a user’s identity has been verified to be a real human. Giving the option for such verification will help to boost trust and confidence in the system. This does not, however, imply that users’ real identities must be revealed without the option of anonymity. Keeping identities hidden online and in digital forums, after all, can be critical for protecting minorities and other vulnerable users, as well as combating repression and corruption. Metaverse users should be able to choose whether or not to publicly verify their true identities; if they do not, other inhabitants may choose not to interact with them.

The Metaverse and Identity Verification

Many of the use cases for virtual worlds will require identity verification. From a business standpoint, the Metaverse has the potential to transform hybrid work by combining the benefits of in-person and remote communication, eliminating the issue of limited office resources, and providing each avatar with access to tools that optimize what they are saying or presenting. However, before moving meetings, collaboration, and data sharing into the virtual realm, organizations must carefully consider the implications for access management. How can you be sure that the right person has just entered your meeting if avatars are completely customizable? Employers must ensure the legitimacy of those behind the avatars because sensitive information may be at stake.

Age verification will also be necessary. The Metaverse will give chat rooms and other age-related platforms a new dimension. The appearances of avatars may change on a regular basis, and there will undoubtedly be illegal attempts to gain access to restricted content, such as new gambling experiences or virtual cinemas.

The Metaverse’s infrastructure will almost certainly be used to support the exchange of goods and services using NFTs and other forms of digital currency, making it critical to understand who you are exchanging payment with.

These use cases demonstrate why, in digital environments such as the Metaverse, online identity verification must be quick and robust, while maintaining the appropriate level of privacy and security. Whether this means assisting users in determining which avatars have a verified’ real identity associated with them, or something else, it will be critical to mitigating the platform’s early reports of nefarious activity. A person’s true identity does not have to be displayed, but it is important to demonstrate that an avatar is backed up by a real person in order to protect users and allow them to make informed decisions about who to engage with, while also ensuring accountability and driving trust.

Finally, the Metaverse suffers from many of the same problems as the rest of the online world. In their rush to capitalize on this innovative new concept, both those building the Metaverse and the organizations hoping to benefit must not overlook the fundamentals of ensuring its safety and security.


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