As published on ph.news.yahoo.com, Tuesday 16 November, 2021.
Barbados is preparing to launch the world's first metaverse embassy, a move that is set to break new ground in diplomatic spaces.
The metaverse is an online social space where people can live virtual lives — some say it is like a copy of the real world.
It has been gaining traction among big institutional players over the past weeks and months, with Facebook (FB) rebranding around the concept to be called Meta Platforms.
In August, the move into virtual land was approved by Barbados' cabinet, with the mission of growing stronger bilateral ties with governments around the world.
The project is being headed up by Gabriel Abed, co-founder and CEO of a crypto FinTech called Bitt. He is currently ambassador to the UAE and, according to his profile on Concordia, is "recognized as the Caribbean’s most leading authority on digital currencies."
Over the weekend, Barbados said it had signed an agreement with Decentraland — one of the leading blockchain metaverse platforms — to help develop its online embassy. Coindesk also reported that it is in discussions with Somnium Space, SuperWorld and other platforms.
A representative from Decentraland said they expect there will be an entire district for these kind of entities on the platform, but that they couldn't "talk about any specifics" at this stage.
In a press release, the Caribbean island's government said: “Barbados’ Metaverse Embassy will be at the centre of activities to advance the growth of stronger bilateral relationships with governments globally."
Adding that “e-consular services will be a core feature alongside with [sic] a virtual teleporter which will be built in Barbados’ Metaverse Embassy connecting all metaworlds as a gesture of diplomatic unification between technology platforms.”
Abed has said that plans to issue an "e-visa" are in the works and that the embassy will comply with international law and the Vienna Convention, which lays out the rights and protections granted to consuls and embassies.
The creation of embassies in the metaverse has raised questions about how digital space will be governed, how international tax law will apply, especially in regions that do not have capital gains tax, and how to do business on digital land.