During an event in Zurich, EY showcased different NFT and Metaverse use cases to attendees from Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The space offers opportunities but also brings legal and business risks. Companies need to understand both.

EY Switzerland gets in on the Metaverse and NFT trend. The auditing and consulting firm welcomed 100 attendees to the event “Metaverse and NFTs – developments in the arts and beyond” in Zurich in late August. The attendees were representatives from businesses and organizations in Switzerland and Liechtenstein who wanted to learn about the new technologies.

Digitization and tokenization

The event featured presentations and an interview with the Swiss artist David Pflugi. He presented works exhibited at the EY headquarters at Maagplatz in Zurich (it’s still available until 16th September, free of charge). Pflugi explained the possibilities of NFT and metaverse technologies from an artist’s point of view during his presentations.

At the core of these possibilities are the digitalization and tokenization of art. Tokenizing artwork enables to sell digital ownership in physical or digital art, making it easier and cheaper to transfer and record the ownership rights. Also, it enables fractional ownership, meaning several people could hold tokens to one piece of artwork and participate in its potential value appreciation.

The Metaverse

The event participants also experienced sculptures several meters high in three dimensions using VR glasses in the Metaverse. In this case, the Metaverse is a digital space for exhibitions. “Online auctions have long since replaced physical events, 28% of bids even come via mobile app,” explained David Coriat from the auction’s house Sotheby’s.

Maximilian Schmidt, Digital Strategy & Disruptive Technologies at EY Switzerland, added that the Metaverse is not only used for art but also a range of other use cases. “We expect the global market volume of the Metaverse to exceed US$800 billion by 2024,” Schmidt said.

An example Schmidt mentioned is that EY Switzerland has acquired a plot in the Metaverse platform “Decentraland” and built the so-called “Talent Tree.” EY Switzerland now carries out recruitment processes in this virtual building.

NFTs for digital art

The other trend discussed was NFTs – Non Fungible Tokens. Sotheby’s focuses on curating NFT artists for exclusive collaboration and creating its own trusted marketplace in the metaverse for NFTs.

Pflugi brought in his perspective as an artist. “It was clear to me early on that the potential of this new technology will have a big impact on artistic creation and the art market,” said Pflugi. He already tokenized some of the works from the Victory Works collection he produces for the football World Cup.

Risks and opportunities

As the event took place at EY, there was also a debate about legal and business risks. Darko Stefanoski, Digital Law Leader Financial Services at EY Switzerland, made it clear that especially companies need to know how to behave in the virtual space.

“Although virtual, the metaverse is by no means a lawless space, but on the contrary, a very interesting playground – from a legal point of view – in which the question of which territorial law and jurisdiction applies in this virtual meta-world plays a central role,” said Stefanoski.

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