The Metaverse economy is expected to generate $5 Trillion by 2030 prediction by McKinsey. The Metaverse economy refers to an emerging economic system arising from interactions between users, content creators, and businesses within the metaverse, an immersive and persistent virtual reality where individuals and entities can interact with each other in various ways, similar to the real world. The Metaverse economy includes the creation and sale of digital content, virtual transactions, metaverse-based experiences and services, virtual property, and community-based economies.
The potential of the Metaverse economy represents a substantial opportunity, and several major countries already have blueprints to position themselves within the global supply chain. For instance, India aims to become a manufacturing hub for IoT devices supporting the Metaverse, such as smart glasses. China seeks to position itself as a provider of high-speed 5G and 6G internet technology, prerequisites for mass adoption of the metaverse.
Indonesia, with a population of over 270 million and over 170 million internet users, has significant potential to become a center for creative content within the global Metaverse economy. Factors such as demographics, digital infrastructure readiness, the growth of the creative industry, and government support are some of the major assets that put Indonesia in a strategic position to benefit from the Metaverse phenomenon.
Factors and Assets:
Indonesia’s demographics are dominated by a young, creative, and digital savvy generation. They are a potent source of developers, users, and consumers of creative content. Additionally, Indonesia’s rich culture can be an endless source of inspiration for creative content creation, providing a unique touch that sets it apart from other content.
Indonesia is an archipelagic nation consisting of 17,000 islands, over 1,300 tribes each with unique languages, customs, and cultures. They all have different lifestyles, histories, and traditions. There are over 700 languages spoken by various ethnic groups in Indonesia. This cultural diversity represents tangible and intangible assets that are an inexhaustible source of inspiration to support the creative industry in the era of the Metaverse economy.
Indonesia’s creative industry has shown significant growth in recent years. The country has produced numerous young talents in film, music, design, and gaming, which have gained international recognition. The export value of Indonesia’s creative sector, including film, music, design, and crafts, has increased in recent years. According to the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), the total export value of Indonesia’s creative industry reached approximately $22 billion in 2019. As of the end of 2022, Indonesia had 2,400 digital startups, most of which are dominated by startups in the creative industry. Web3 and blockchain-based creative industry startups are emerging in Indonesia, for example, Majalabs has spawned Drezzo, a digital fashion startup, and the Noah Project, focused on fine art.
The Indonesian government has recognized the importance of the creative industry and has taken steps to support its growth, including providing incentives and funding. Moreover, with a highly active and dynamic startup community, Indonesia displays a high spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.
To leverage this potential, several steps need to be taken. First, the enhancement of digital infrastructure is crucial, including improving internet speed, 5G network, and access to advanced technology. Based on research conducted in China, to promote mass adoption of the Metaverse, a minimum of 60% of the population needs to be connected to the Metaverse.
Second, education and training, especially in technology, digital arts, and design, need to be improved. It is essential to prepare skilled labor for the creative industry in the Metaverse era.
To bolster Indonesia’s potential in the Metaverse economy, the formal education curriculum at all levels – from elementary, middle, high school to university – needs to be revamped to include topics relevant to technology, digital art, and design. Subjects like programming, graphic design, and animation should be a part of this comprehensive curriculum.
Further, the power of technology needs to be harnessed to broaden access to education and training, especially for individuals residing in underserved areas. This could be achieved through various digital platforms, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), webinars, or other online learning platforms. By democratizing access to these resources, Indonesia can nurture a skilled workforce ready to contribute to the global Metaverse economy.
Third, support for startups and entrepreneurs in technology and creative content fields needs to be increased. This can be done through access to capital and funding. Currently, alternative funding programs for creative industry projects, especially in the music and film industry in Indonesia, have been initiated by the ID-Opentech Group, which brought tokenization and crypto technology from South Korea. The idea is for fans, investors, etc., to support a project with NFT.
Fourth, regulations that support innovation and protect intellectual property rights need to be introduced by the government. Lastly, the development of creative communities needs to be encouraged, fostering an ecosystem where developers, designers, and artists can learn and collaborate.
To optimize this potential, strategic collaborations need to be established. Cooperation between universities and industries can spur innovation and research. Collaborations with international tech companies can accelerate the adoption and development of the metaverse. Partnerships among startups, between the government and private sector, as well as between artists and technologists, are also crucial.
The Indonesian government needs to engage global giants such as Microsoft, Meta Group, Apple, Google, Alibaba, Tencent, Bytedance, Huawei, and others, to help develop Indonesia’s creative industry ecosystem.
Moreover, regional and international collaborations can assist in developing standards, sharing knowledge and best practices, and hosting joint events and conferences about the metaverse. Indonesia’s strategic geographic position and neutral foreign policy stance in the power struggle between the West and China could be leveraged to strengthen its bargaining power in developing the local creative economy ecosystem.
Bali has great potential to host various international conferences, and the Balinese government has recognized the importance of developing other sources of income besides tourism. They have been embracing the digital economy since 2022, by hosting the Bali Digifest.
Majalabs is an excellent example of how a business initiative can bridge the gap between the Bali government, the digital nomad community in Bali, and the local creative industry players in adopting blockchain and web3 technologies, the precursors of the Metaverse.
Batam, with its strategic geographical position at the golden triangle facing directly Singapore and Johor in Malaysia, could become the research and innovation hub for Metaverse. Currently, Batam has a digital industry cluster at Nongsa Digital Park, where an animation outsourcing company exists, a primary basis of the Metaverse economy. Batam will also have the world’s largest data center, serving as a fundamental asset in developing the Metaverse economy.
With the right approach and through effective cooperation, Indonesia can leverage its vast potential in the creative industry to become a significant player in the global Metaverse economy. Indeed, it’s not an easy or quick journey. This will become a solution and an asset for Indonesia to deal with its demographic bonus. The creative industry will absorb a significant amount of the workforce and create jobs.
Of course, this is not an easy task, and cooperation between all stakeholders, including the government, industry, and universities, is required to achieve this. Indonesia still has ample time since, according to my research, the mass adoption of the Metaverse will take another 5 to 10 years.