Soon after Facebook rebranded itself to better reflect its shift towards the “metaverse”, a shared digital space where people can interact with each other and with objects, a little-known cryptocurrency soared over 400 percent. Mana, which is used for buying and selling virtual land, much like the metaverse, jumped from $0.80 (Rs. 59) on Thursday, when Facebook announced the rebranding exercise to Meta, to an all-time high of $4.16 (Rs. 310) on Sunday. Launched in 2017, Mana is the native digital currency of Decentraland and runs on Ethereum, the blockchain network behind the world’s second-largest digital currency.
Decentraland is a self-proclaimed metaverse platform where users can create virtual lands and buy them. Users can buy a “property” or upgrade it to an environment of their choice – like casinos, art galleries, and theme parks. The ownership of the property is purchased through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Facebook’s big bet on the metaverse has generated interest in many other companies that focus on that space. In the crypto world, the currencies dealing in that space saw a rapid rise in investor interest, which pushed the value soon after the announcement by the social media giant.
The gains of the Mana cryptocurrency has, however, tapered off since, it was trading at $2.88 (Rs. 214) on Wednesday, according to CoinMarketCap, a market research firm. Also, investors are looking at smaller alternatives to Bitcoin, coins that can rise as rapidly, after the world’s largest cryptocurrency has lost some of its gains after hitting a record high last month. An example of this investor behaviour was seen last week when Shiba Inu surpassed Dogecoin, a meme coin that inspired its existence in the first place.
According to the Mana white paper, the team behind Mana crypto coin began working on it in December 2015 with an aim of providing an infrastructure to support a shared virtual world. The beta launch happened in 2017 and trading in Mana opened to the public in February 2020.