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Utkarsh Shukla, founder & CEO, YUG Metaverse, says events were a preliminary ploy to get a foothold in the space. “We are building a lot of tools. You will see us creating a number of experiences.”

According to Deloitte, India’s NFT market is set to hit $1 billion. There are domestic NFT marketplaces such as Wazir X NFT Marketplace (the first crypto currency platform which forayed into NFTs in June 2021) and GuardianLink’s BeyondLife.Club, as well as curated NFT platforms such as Fantico, which focuses on niches such as celebrity NFTs and rare coins, books and poems.

While WazirX Marketplace welcomes individuals and brands alike and has launched NFTs of Lakme India Fashion Week and Sunburn music festival, GuardianLink only works with companies for now. “The brands we work with are mostly Fortune 500 companies. We run their NFT P&L and work on a revenue-share deal for the long term,” says Subramaniam. GuardianLink has already signed on the dotted line with 10 corporates. Each brand has planned 3,000-15,000 NFTs for $10-100. Some priced at a premium of $150-250, even $1,000. “The sweet-spot is $10-50 and almost all have traded at a four-fold premium,” claims Subramaniam. Launched in 2020, GuardianLink has Series-A funding of $12 million from Kalaari Capital.

On the other hand, platforms such as FanCraze, Colexion and Rario are sports NFT platforms. FanCraze has a three-year deal with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for rights to its catalog of video and audio clips going back to 1975. Like Vista Media Capital, there are a host of niche NFT platforms on their way. Trace Network Labs is building a fashion metaverse platform and claims to have already signed up with over 30 global brands. Similarly, Gurgaon-based Web 3.0 gaming start-up, Totality Corp, is developing a gaming metaverse platform. GuardianLink recently launched NFT gaming marketplace Jump.Trade. “You can buy NFTs and play games and earn money. Our first game is Meta Cricket League, a cricket NFT game where users can buy cricket players as NFTs. They could use them to play the game and earn,” says Subramaniam. Globally, sports NFTs alone are expected to generate more than $22 billion in transactions in 2022, according to Deloitte. By 2022-end, four-five million sports fans globally would have purchased NFTs or been gifted NFT sports collectibles, it adds.

All these NFT platforms are building metaverse solutions too. NFTs for them are a precursor to the metaverse. Revenue models for both marketplaces and niche platforms are almost the same. Apart from the platform fee charged from the creator, they also earn 5-10% from the royalty the creator gets each time an NFT is re-sold. The revenue share of niche platforms is slightly higher. While Fantico has dropped 300 NFTs so far, Wazir X, ever since its launch in June last year, has sold 25,000 NFTs. “Each time an NFT is sold, the royalty goes to the creator and we get a 15-20% share on an average,” says Abhayanand Singh, founder and CEO, Vistas Media Capital, which owns Fantico.

Former Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari’s Invact Metaversity will have a 3D immersive virtual learning platform which houses various virtual university campuses. Due for launch in May, the university has already enrolled 60 students out of a waiting list of 800. The focus right now is higher education; the 16-week Invact business fellowship program is priced at ₹2 lakh. “Institutions like IIT-Madras have reached out to us,” says Maheshwari. On Invact Metaversity campus, a student from Mumbai can hang out with a friend from Delhi. They can even order food from Zomato and Swiggy; it will be home-delivered.

India has over 200 million gamers and that’s the immediate metaverse opportunity for players, says Anshul Rustaggi whose Totality Corp is developing a gaming metaverse platform, Zionverse, themed around Indian culture and 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 enable them to list their NFTs on other platforms as well,” says Katial.

Universe Of Enablers

India’s IT majors are also playing a significant role in building metaverse ecosystems. Since the domestic market is still nascent, the likes of TCS, Infosys and Wipro are currently developing solutions for global markets. TCS is leveraging 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,” explains Ashok Maharaj, head of extended reality labs, TCS. The firm is building an NFT marketplace for a leading media company in US and a mall on the metaverse for a fashion retailer. It is also creating virtual branches for a leading bank in UK

Infosys, meanwhile, has set up an immersive retail environment for Australian Open where fans can shop for branded merchandise and get them delivered at home. The IT major created a digital twin of a vaccine lab for a leading pharmaceutical company which helped quality engineers access critical data and arrive at decisions. “We started with enterprise AR/VR seven-eight years ago, evolving into more experiential XR (extended reality), followed with a strong blockchain practice. IoT, applied AI, digital twin engineering and Cloud are already mature practice areas for us,” says S. Ravi Kumar, vice president, Infosys.

Among the most active is Tech Mahindra, which calls its metaverse practice TechMVerse. The company has already launched solutions, including Middlemist, a platform through which it enables artists to list their pieces of art as NFTs. Chief digital services officer Kunal Purohit says the company is roping in partners who can provide 3D content.

L&T Infotech has set up a dedicated unit for metaverse under its global technology office to focus on co-innovation, implement use cases for clients and provide advisory services. “We are getting queries from clients in the media industry and technology and financial services. A few clients are taking steps to move their consumer-facing applications to make them AR/VR compatible,” says CEO and MD Sanjay Jalona.


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