The future of the metaverse is very bright for accountants. The present, less.

Accountants take their first steps into the metaverse only to find that, right now, there isn’t much to do there. But over time, according to some professionals in the field, the Metaverse could evolve into something as impactful as the World Wide Web itself, meaning that establishing a presence now could pay big dividends to the future. Exactly how this will happen remains an open question, but business leaders planting their flag in this new digital world are confident that there will soon be answers.

The term “Metaverse” comes from science fiction author Neil Stephenson in his 1992 book “Snowcrash”, which was later used by Meta (born Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year to outline his vision for the direction the internet is taking. A precise definition – especially a broad consensus – is hard to pin down, but it generally seems to describe an immersive virtual world and the places where it intersects with the physical world. Such an understanding encompasses a wide range of things, from online role-playing games like World of Warcraft to simple video conferencing on Zoom, Teams, or Meet.

What they seem to have in common is having a persistent or semi-persistent virtual “space”, separate from the physical world. The metaverse is actually made up of an increasing number of such spaces or platforms, distinct from each other, all of which serve different purposes, whether it’s art, technology, or simply entertainment. social interaction. Some of the biggest right now that explicitly market themselves as Metaverse platforms include Decentraland, Illuvium, Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and Cryptovoxels.

Regardless of the precise nature of the metaverse, the business world is increasingly interested in it. A recent survey from Big Four PwC found that 67% of executives are actively engaged in Metaverse projects, and an additional 20% say they are “looking into it.” There also seems to be a lot of optimism surrounding the Metaverse: the poll found that 82% think it will become “business as usual” next year or in the next two to three years. This despite the fact that, according to the survey, only 9% of them currently use one of the existing environments.

The Top 50 Firm Prager Metis relies on this 9% to grow over the years, which is why it is one of the few accounting firms to have already established itself there. Metaverse director Jerry Eitel said accountants in general go where the business is, hence his own firm. This is particularly relevant for Prager Metis because, Eitel said, they specialize in the entertainment industry; given that this industry has been particularly active in the Metaverse, it only made sense that the company would be there as well.

It’s part of what he says is the long-term plan for the company’s Metaverse presence, which is to associate its brand with the virtual world so that when tax issues inevitably start to arise there, it will be the ones people will think of. . “There will be tax stuff throughout this Metaverse thing. We’ll be like, ‘Come see us for your tax issues, we know tax, we know crypto.’ [These issues] will be there in everything we do,” he said.

Another company that has established a presence in the Metaverse is the Big Four company KPMG. National business innovation leader Cliff Justice made similar remarks, saying the Metaverse will eventually create entirely new business models around the way products and services are delivered to market, which will require in turn new rules in response. Therefore, there are likely to be many people looking for a good accountant, and KPMG hopes they will turn to him.

Justice noted that, in the 1990s, few people really understood what the Internet was and how it could be used for serious business purposes. A CPA firm creating a website at the time may have been met with skepticism by their peers, who might wonder why such a thing is necessary. But a few years later, there was suddenly what he described as a “land grab” for favorable domain names to place a website, which suddenly became mandatory for a serious business. Justice said the Metaverse is heading to a similar place.

“It’s very similar with [virtual] earth in my eyes. We had to secure a good spot,” he said.

the hunting house

Prager Metis and KPMG entered the metaverse in the same way. They entered a Metaverse environment (in this case both are in “Decentraland”) and went to a marketplace where users were buying and selling “parcels” of “land” that could be developed in that area. Prices for this virtual property vary widely; some plots can be acquired for as little as $15,000; others cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

The process did not end with the purchase of the land — in fact, at this stage, it is just beginning. The next step was to hire someone who could design and build their Metaverse spaces, the virtual buildings that sit on the virtual lot. Eitel said his company turned to a designer named Tangpoko, who had extensive experience designing Metaverse buildings.

Once a designer was hired, Prager Metis transferred the programming rights to Tangpoko, who then not only built the facility, but filled it with elements such as non-fungible symbolic paintings, virtual furniture and other interior design elements. She also advised the company in general on how to navigate the metaverse. Eitel acknowledged there was more to this process than he initially thought.

Justice, whose company spent a considerable amount of money setting it up, said that like web development, there’s a certain “get what you pay for” quality to Metaverse spaces. This is why there is such a wide range of possible financial commitments. “You can just buy the land and build something very simple for very little money, and you see a lot of startups doing that. Or you can build a functional facility with content that has avatars and access and you can bring people in and build on Just like a website, the more features, the more content, the richer and more in-depth the website, the more resources it takes to build it, which increases the cost” , did he declare.

Do… what, exactly?

Despite these efforts, things in the Metaverse are relatively quiet right now for accountants. Eitel said Prager Metis, at this time, is working to build connections within the community by organizing and sponsoring events. More recently, he said, the company held a fashion show where it aired an advertisement for its services. Prager Metis also used his own experience setting up in the metaverse to help Absolut Vodka establish a presence as well.

Eitel said cultural events like the fashion show represent the immediate short-term goals of their space. He said the company plans to host a monthly “Prager Metis Presents in the Metaverse” where he will feature artists, musicians and other creative professionals, and added that he may also have discussions around the corner. fire.

KPMG’s Justice sees the metaverse as a place to collaborate with clients, saying there are things that can be done in virtual reality that are impossible in the physical world. His company already has demos where it can develop concept supply chains, concept factory models, concept hospital rooms and more. He believes that the Metaverse, as it matures, can significantly improve these services.

“You can visualize that, bring customers in there, without having to build an actual physical room to demonstrate that stuff and collaborate,” he said.

He also sees recruiting and training potential, especially for young tech-savvy accountants. He said this latest generation of accountants are already familiar with building virtual worlds in games like Roblox, and as the Metaverse improves, it will be the professionals who truly understand the space. Looking ahead, Justice envisioned the company one day to advertise jobs, recruit talent and train people in an immersive and possibly playful way that he hopes could be “more fun than the program of regular type that has been around for 25 years”.

“There are exciting opportunities out there, and if you talk to the younger generation coming up, there’s a digital divide…Although my generation was the first to grow up with technology, the younger generation sees it in a totally different. They ask, ‘Why are not we are building more businesses in this more immersive world [way]?'” he said.

The meta-metaverse matters

While there’s a lot of talk about what companies will do inside the metaverse, professionals don’t have to be in to generate business of this. Peter Camuso, who leads Camuso CPAs, noted that while his firm specializes in Metaverse issues (alongside blockchain and cryptocurrencies), he is not present there himself. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t provide value to their customers in this area.

He noted that around 90% of his clients are in the crypto, blockchain and NFT space, all at varying levels of development. Because of the significant overlapping interests in these areas, many of these people are already interested or directly involved in the Metaverse and need guidance for this as well as other matters. He pointed out that, as young as the metaverse is, important transactions are already taking place there.

“All of these new transactions are taking place, and that’s where everyone involved in them needs leadership from the tax and accounting industry to help them get compliant…. Just aggregating that data and processing the overall volume of transactions going on is getting very heavy and on top of that it’s such a new space, and the taxes are overall complex, so most people don’t understand the nature of the transactions they’re involved in in that regard,” he said. he said. “So in some ways I would say that we are already working in the metaverse. Anyone transacting online, whether it’s crypto or NFT, already has very big tax and accounting needs.”

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