How NFTs propel the Metaverse forward and where it’s headed

By Vanessa Malone

Since Facebook announced it was changing its name to “Meta” and investing $10 billion¹ into developing the “Metaverse,” mainstream interest in what a grander Metaverse is, how it will work, and where it’s headed has spiked. 

Comfortability with digitalization infiltrating various aspects of our daily lives from banking, to shopping, to working —  all expedited by the global pandemic —  has created an opportune time for the Metaverse concept to be adopted. 

The keys to this evolving virtual world, along with the greater benefits of blockchain technology, seem to be NFTs. 

What’s the Metaverse and what role do NFTs play? Let’s dive in!

What’s the Metaverse?

The Metaverse is still in early infancy but the vision paints a shared virtual world which works to revolutionize our online experience.

It combines multiple forms of technology like virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, etc., that enable users to create digital manifestations of their physical lives. 

Metaverse enthusiasts imagine a virtual arena where users would interact, game, work, and play together online through avatars in a much more immersive manner.

You can purchase internet real estate, invite friends to your gallery to showcase your NFT media, engage with your peers at an online concert, take virtual trips around the world, etc. Because it’s virtual, experiences can even operate outside the constraints of the physical world. 

What companies are bullish on the Metaverse?

Although Facebook garnished a lot of attention by doubling down on the future iteration of the Metaverse, we’re already seeing aspects of what a singular Metaverse could look like through other company’s ventures and digital products. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Epic Games has held multiple online concerts on Fortnite, where users’ avatars gathered online to enjoy concerts from world famous artists like Ariana Grande, visited educational simulations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and other virtual gatherings.²
  • Gucci tapped into the Roblox digital realm to sell NFTs for a limited edition Gucci Collection of bags, glasses and hats.³
  • Decentraland, a platform where users can buy and sell virtual properties saw a 400% spike in their native token “mana” after Facebook made their Meta announcement.⁴
  • Microsoft introduced a feature rolling out on Microsoft Teams in 2022 which brings in mixed-reality components including holograms and virtual avatars.⁵

Those are just a few companies treading in the Metaverse realm, and working to increase their stakes in it.

What role do NFTs have in the Metaverse?

Blockchain’s core elements of decentralization, transparency, and digital currency offer the foundation for the Metaverse.

NFTs are the keys to the Metaverse, a way to digitally attribute ownership, offer experiences, digital collectibles and interact with them virtually in a decentralized capacity.

NFTs can give users, avatars, items and experiences a unique “identity” in the Metaverse. Importantly, this digital proof of ownership attaches real and lasting value in the digital assets that can be exchanged.

For many, the term NFT brings to mind digital artwork that was sold for millions of dollars. Christie’s sold an NFT by digital artist Beeple for $69 million (£50m).⁶ NBA’s Top Shot blockchain trading card platform has generated over $230 million in gross sales for its NFTs, including $200,000 for just one LeBron James highlight.⁷ 

But while digital art is a proven use case, the NFT sector has only scratched the surface. We believe their role in the Metaverse will bring with it some innovative new use cases. 

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, and Horizon-powered exchange built on the Ethereum blockchain, gives issuers the ability to supplement their IPOs with NFTs which can include unique fan engagement opportunities and experiences.

For example Jennifer Esposito’s feature film, FRESH KILLS, the latest IPO to list on Upstream, gives fans worldwide the opportunity to support their vision by purchasing NFTs. These include traditional art based NFTs from award-winning female artist Gala Mirissa. They also include NFTs that feature specific rewards such as joining the movement of film, walking the red carpet, meeting the cast or even being in the film.

This is just one example for how versatile NFTs can become, and hints at how their physical implementations can be replicated and enhanced in the Metaverse.

In conclusion

We are clearly a ways off from a singular Metaverse where all users and platforms co-exist alongside the real world. However, the progression of blockchain acceptance and understanding, along with the validation of companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and other heavy hitters, we believe more iterations of Metaverses that offer various aspects of this exciting new digital realm are right around the corner.

About Horizon

Horizon is a fintech company that builds and powers global securities exchanges with an integrated suite of software for compliant issuance, management, and secondary trading of securities. Their in-house solutions combine Wall Street and Silicon Valley to power the next generation of securities offerings and trading in the U.S. and globally. Learn more at

About Upstream

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, is a fully regulated global stock exchange for digital securities. Powered by Horizon’s proprietary matching engine technology, the exchange enables investors to trade shares in IPO’s, crowdfunded companies, U.S. and international dual listed equities, SPACs and celebrity ventures directly from the app Interested issuers can reach the team at


1 The Verge

2 NY Post

3 CoinTelegraph






This blog shall not constitute an offer to sell securities or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not permitted. U.S. investors are not permitted to trade in upstream listed securities. U.S. and Canadian citizens will only be able to trade in a security they currently own that has listed on upstream for liquidation only.

Upstream is a MERJ Exchange market. MERJ Exchange is a licensed Securities Exchange, an affiliate of the World Federation of Exchanges and full member of ANNA. MERJ supports global issuers of traditional and digital securities through the entire asset life cycle from issuance to trading, clearing, settlement and registry. It operates a fair and transparent marketplace in line with international best practice and principles of operations of financial markets. Upstream does not endorse or recommend any public or private securities bought or sold on its app. Upstream does not offer investment advice or recommendations of any kind. All services offered by Upstream are intended for self-directed clients who make their own investment decisions without aid or assistance from Upstream. Customers must comply with applicable law of their own jurisdiction. By accessing the site or app, you agreed to be bound by its terms of use and privacy policy. Company and security listings on Upstream are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with speculative investments, often in early and development stage companies. There can be no assurance the valuation of any particular company’s securities is accurate or in agreement with the market or industry comparative valuations. Investors must be able to afford market volatility and afford the loss of their investment. Companies listed on Upstream are subject to significant ongoing corporate obligations including, but not limited to disclosure, filings and notification requirements, as well compliance with applicable quantitative and qualitative listing standards.

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