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Article17 Jun 2022

Life, the Metaverse and Everything

The metaverse could transform the internet, according a Citi Research report, beckoning its users into a virtual world where they can socialize, work and play.
“Metaverse” was a term coined by American writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, referring to a 3D virtual space where humans, as programmable avatars, interact with each other and software agents.  

That future is now here. Citi analysts define the metaverse as a virtual 3D space that is inter-operable with the physical world, a step-change from the 2D webpage-style content of today’s mainstream internet (Web 2.0).  

Ever-richer interactions between the physical and virtual worlds are facilitated by avatars, 3D objects and gestures/facial expressions. Smartphones and PCs will initially straddle Web 2.0 and the metaverse as the devices of primary access. That will likely evolve as next-generation virtual/augmented/mixed (VR/AR/MR) reality devices become both more sophisticated and affordable. 

Metaverse Network

Metaverse Network


Source: Citi Research


Entry to this virtual world will be via different devices – completely virtually via VR glasses, wearables, brain computer interfaces, or partly by physical interactions via AR, holograms or the 2D display on a PC or smartphone. Citi analysts say the PC and smartphone will be the mainstream point of access in the immediate future. VR devices will become increasingly popular as the technology matures, and ARs ultimately will enable metaverse ubiquity. Metaverse online stores, for instance, could take various forms: AR overlays in brick-and-mortar stores, VR showrooms or 3D object displays in apps. 

While the metaverse is in its infancy, with online gamers expected to remain the main users over the next few years, its impact ultimately could be vast. In theory, at least, the total addressable market of the metaverse should be all internet-related revenue plus that of the physical-world activities being displaced, adding up to US$8-13 trillion. 

Key Trends of the Metaverse  


Source: Citi Global Insights  



Sizing the Metaverse Economy in 2030 ($ trillions)

Metaverse TAM 2030
(US$ trillions)

Digital Economy as % of GDP





as % of Digital


























© 2022 Citigroup Inc. No redistribution without Citigroups written permission.

Assumptions: (1) Global GDP of $127.9 trillion in 2030, based on IMF; (2) Digital as 24.3% of GDP in 2025 (Oxford Economics); (3) Metaverse as % of Digital based on various scenarios. Source: IMF, Citi Global Insights


© 2022 Citigroup Inc. No redistribution without Citigroups written permission. 

Assumptions: (1) Global GDP of $127.9 trillion in 2030, based on IMF; (2) Digital as 24.3% of GDP in 2025 (Oxford Economics); (3) Metaverse as % of Digital based on various scenarios. Source: IMF, Citi Global Insights 


Citi analysts say five foundational technologies will underpin the metaverse: 

  • Operating systems: These include platforms, gaming, crypto exchanges, and 3D tools. Unlike for mobile phones, Citi analysts think the metaverse OS will evolve organically through a patchwork of different contributors building functionality. 

  • Blockchain protocols:  Cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the lubricants of the metaverse’s economic system and inter-operability 

  • Natural user interfaces: User immersion, intrinsic to the metaverse, requires enhanced interfaces, e.g., voice commands, gestures, and object detection.  

  • XR headsets: Demand will increase incrementally for MR (mixed reality) devices. 

  • Computing and networking infra: Real-time graphic rendering / transmission will require unprecedented computing power and networking capacity.  

Key risks & challenges – Some industry experts argue that the metaverse story is more hype than substance, adding little value to users beyond current internet applications. Even apostles of the metaverse vision acknowledge high hurdles to seamless, widespread adoption, among them required technology/ infra advances (computing power, hardware, internet bandwidth), privacy and data-security concerns, and regulatory issues, especially relating to digital assets. 

Citi Global Insights (CGI) is Citi’s premier non-independent thought leadership curation. It is not investment research; however, it may contain thematic content previously expressed in an Independent Research report. For the full CGI disclosure, click here. 



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