Amid all the talk in crypto about "the metaverse," the CEO of crypto exchange Kraken foresees a multiplicity of metaverses.

"I don't think there'll be any single metaverse," Jesse Powell said on Tuesday at the Decrypt and Yahoo Finance Crypto Goes Mainstream event, adding that games and platforms such as World of Warcraft, the NFT-powered Axie Infinity, and Facebook itself can all be considered separate metaverses. "I don't think anyone's going to have a monopoly on this."

In the future, said Powell, gaming metaverse platforms will enable users to migrate in-game items such as skins between platforms. "I think it's the same for Facebook and other kinds of proprietary platforms," he said. "They'll support these blockchain assets and some representation of them in their world, and they'll all have different roles."


What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is a persistent, virtual universe in which users interact with each other as avatars in shared spaces to play games, socialize and work. Several companies including Facebook, Nike and Microsoft have made moves in the metaverse space recently, with Facebook going so far as to rebrand as Meta. "I think we’re basically moving from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said following the announcement.

Blockchain-based assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will underpin the metaverse, enabling users to take ownership of digital property such as art, music and in-metaverse items.

The metaverse, said Powell, will be "fragmented and sort of federated across the chain." He added that, "you'll have these common assets that exist on the chain and you can move between quote-unquote, metaverses."

Kraken's NFT push

Like crypto exchanges Binance, Coinbase and FTX, Kraken is planning its own NFT platform.

"We do have something in the oven for NFTs," Powell said. "We're cooking up something that we think is going to be pretty awesome, and it'll be out—hopefully—toward the end of this year, early next year." Powell added that having previously run e-commerce platforms for virtual goods, as well as an art gallery, he has "some experience in this space."


Powell added that he was surprised by this year's NFT boom. "We weren't really expecting to explode the way that it did in the last year or so," he said, pointing to the success of "mainstream projects" like NBA Top Shot, CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club.

NFTs, he said, have "captured the mainstream consciousness," thanks to a generational shift. (Solana creator Anatoly Yakovenko said something very similar about NFTs at the same event on Tuesday: that they capture a "very deep, social component to crypto.")

"The kids that have grown up over the last 20 years really are familiar with this idea of a digital store of value, digital representation of value, virtual clothes, virtual gear for your virtual avatar," Powell said. "I think we're all going to be competing for this same kind of demographic, these people who are interested in NFTs and are coming into the space for the first time. So I do still think it's anybody's game."

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