How to Enter the Metaverse Era

How to Enter the Metaverse Era

How to Enter the Metaverse Era

 

Real Estate Investor Magazine started our journey in September 2007 when we launched our first print magazine at a time when print(and magazines) ruled the media landscape choice for readers and advertisers, alongside TV and radio who ruled the viewership roost.

Print magazines have become a diminutive for audiences who have lost interest in paying for print products that have moved to the Internet.

New technology is finding new and advanced applications as the costs and methods of content distribution intersects with audience demands. Magazines no longer feature on traditional advertiser media schedules as online started to grow their piece of the advertising pie significantly over the last 13 years.

Today REImag has completely transformed from a print magazine into an interactive digital magazine and online platform and now into the metaverse. The digitalisation shift to online and specifically content marketing and now metaverse has been significant.

What is Digitalisation?

Digitalisation is the process of converting information into a digital format. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or signal by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of points or samples. The real estate software sector has been the biggest beneficiary of innovative PropTech that has made an impact in the markets.

What is PropTech?

Property technology is the application and integration of information technology and platform economics to real estate markets. Some goals of real estate technology include reducing paperwork as well as making transactions quicker, more efficient, and more secure.

From print to digitalisation and real estate to ‘Proptech’ to the metaverse has taken a dramatic shift. The metaverse moment first started in 1992 with Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi movie called ‘Snow Crash’ with the idea of the convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in an online space for people who wanted to escape the grim circumstances of a real world. Once a niche concept beloved of tech enthusiasts, the idea of a centralised virtual world, a “place” parallel to the physical world, has careened into the mainstream landscape this year.

In 2014 Facebook bought Oculus (manufacturers of VR headsets) for $2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg already predicted in 2014 that Facebook would move from a social media company to a metaverse company where people would share, “not just moments with friends online, but also entire experiences and adventures.”

The metaverse hype recently started gaining traction when Zuckerberg announced in October 2021 that the company he founded, Facebook, owners of social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has been rebranded as Meta. And that they will have a new focus – to help bring the metaverse to life. Similarly, as REI is doing with you today.

Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision became public when he announced ambitious plans to build the “metaverse” — a virtual reality construct intended to supplant the Internet, merge virtual life with real-life and create endless new playgrounds for everyone. He promised, “You’re going to be able to do almost anything you can imagine.”

He says that “people don’t have to meet in physical spaces to be together, to feel present, collaborate or brainstorm. Meta envisions a future virtual world where digital avatars connect through work, travel, or entertainment like this and eventually using VR headsets. He also believes that the metaverse will even replace the internet as we know it. In fact, they are backing the initiative with tens of billions of dollars.

What is the metaverse

in most basic terms? Essentially, the metaverse is a Virtual- Reality (VR) space in where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and with other users (or their avatars). It is a highly immersive virtual world where people meet to work, socialise, play, shop and educate themselves.

SpatialWeb is one of the leaders in the metaverse developed by South African tech company Y-Dangle (owned by Eric Nienaber and Josh Fox). SpatialWeb is owned by US-based company Vatom Inc, but developed here in South Africa and is leading the metaverse space development charge. Nienaber says, “the metaverse is evolving fast at rate of knots on a daily basis as new functionalities are continually added to enhance and improve the space.”

Essentially, people working from anywhere can gather virtually on-demand in an immersive environment – as if in person. REI have already hosted 4 large conferences with over 500 people on SpatialWeb and now use the platform for business meetings instead of using the hackneyed static Zoom, Hangouts, and Teams technology which is causing ‘Zoom fatigue’ for remote workers.

The metaverse, and more specifically SpatialWeb, has a range of online 3D virtual environments in which people can play games, build things, socialise, work and even trade and earn crypto assets. Nienaber says it is difficult to define the metaverse as there are so many sub-sectors. At its core, the metaverse, also known to many as web3, is an evolution of our current Internet.

Interest in purely digital ownership has spiked dramatically, with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies making headlines. Virtual productivity platforms are growing too, with Facebook and Microsoft announcing new ways to collaborate online.

READ MORE : A Practical POPIA Guide to Kickstart Your POPIA Compliance

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, photos, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. Non-fungible means it is individual. The opposite, fungible, has examples of crypto currencies like bitcoin or etherium. One bitcoin can be swapped for another – they are identical.

So, in crypto an NFT is a digital asset that exists on a blockchain (a record of transactions kept on networked computers). The blockchain serves as a public ledger allowing anyone to verify  the NFT’s authenticity and public proof of ownership.

NFT’s are made by selecting the item, choosing your blockchain, setting up your digital wallet to transact, selecting your specific NFT marketplace such asOpensea.io, rarible.com, Axie Infinity.You then upload your file and final to start setting up the sales process to transact.

How SpatialWeb can add Value to your Business

The evolution of the web starteda static environment to a dynamic to semantic to spatial environment using VR and AR. SpatialWeb can be used by businesses in many ways and is applicable for events, gatherings, galleries, NFT campaigns, marketing and advertising, transacting and showcasing real estate, shopping and customer support, media, financial services, influencer, and fan engagement, discussion groups, meetups, religious practices, loyalty programs, museum and cultural tours, weddings, funerals, birthdays, lecturing, learning, classrooms, dating, therapy, and coaching to name a few.

Build your own 3D Metaverse REI provides the complete 3D build, customisation and optimisation of your branded virtual world, as well as technical support and training for your team. Don’t wait until it’s too late, join the Metaverse now.

READ MORE : 4 Tips to Protect your Business Online

 

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Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

 

A new digital world presents new digital threats.

Real estate transactions are at high risk of cybercrimes, particularly phishing scams, a trend that is spiking due to an increase in online communications, work from home policies, and weak software security systems.

Phishing, which has risen by 350% since the pandemic began according to a Google Report, is a cybercrime perpetrated by persons or groups who contact potential victims posing as legitimate institutions to lure them into providing private data, such as banking and credit card details, passwords, or personal identification information.

Phishing Threatens to Derail Deals

According to Interpol, an increase in cyberattacks has left both individuals and businesses vulnerable. 

Mark Coetzee, Head of Buyers Trust, a subsidiary of ooba Home Loans, says that this too affects the real estate sector with large transactions are taking place daily. “The risk is two-fold,” adds Coetzee. “Agents are at risk of losing the buyer’s deposit, and as a result the entire deal while buyers are at risk of losing their hard-earned deposits.”

He adds: “Fees paid in the home buying process are substantial, and the e-mail trails in some cases are easily accessible, leaving all parties open to the risk of phishing”,

These types of crime commonly and easily occur when e-mail records between the agent, buyer, and the respective lawyers to whom the deposit is paid are intercepted and ultimately, ‘phished’.

Cybercriminals will hack into the title company or real estate’s system to study the language used, the format of the information, and the transactions, to ensure they appear informed and legitimate in order to commit convincing fraud.

Protect Yourself from Scammers

With so many people working remotely and the security risks this poses, Coetzee says that vigilance is key. “On the office network, most parties were protected by various layers of security. However, the process of installing this level of security at a home office level is still lacking”

All parties should stick to the golden rule: If something feels ‘off’, go with your gut. “Contact the relevant parties via phone to confirm and do your due diligence prior to responding on a platform like e-mail, which can be easily intercepted.” says Coetzee.

Why Buyers Trust?

“Buyers Trust is specifically designed to securely store often hefty deposit amounts, without risk of interception. Buyers Trust allows you full visibility of your deposit at all times, in an account that is in your own name, so you’ll have 100% peace of mind of the safety of your deposit.”

Benefits of Buyers Trust include:

  • An added layer of high-level security, as their deposit will be secured with one of South Africa’s major banks, making it comparable to a bank guarantee, but without the hefty price tag.
  • The buyer retains more control over their investment, as the account is opened in their own name.
  • Buyers experience greater transparency, as they will have access to statements any time.
  • Buyers will achieve a highly competitive Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Peace of mind for both parties knowing that the buyer’s deposit is safe.

“Buyers Trust is regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and takes comprehensive measures to combat fraud and ensure the security of buyers’ home deposits. As well as the added security, buyers are more likely to receive better interest on their deposits than if they had chosen to leave the handling of their finances to a transfer attorney,” concludes Coetzee.

READ MORE: 4 Tips to protect your business online

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A Practical POPIA Guide to Kickstart Your POPIA Compliance

A Practical POPIA Guide to Kickstart Your POPIA Compliance

A Practical POPIA Guide to Kickstart Your POPIA Compliance

 

All businesses with employees, customers and suppliers must comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), which comes into effect on 1 July 2021. Here is a practical POPIA guide to the most important aspects.

With the commencement date of the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPI) of 1 July 2021 fast approaching, businesses should be reviewing their use of personal information to determine if it complies with the Act. It is important to understand that any business that has employees, customers and suppliers must comply with POPI when dealing with personal information. Using the practical POPIA guide below you will find a few tips on ways businesses can kick-start their compliance exercise.

Download a FREE STBB POPIA Prep Pack

Figure out what personal information you process and why

Under POPI, a business must be able to justify why it holds personal information based on one of the several justifications set out in POPI.  This is a good opportunity for a business to assess what information it collects (whether from employees, customers, services providers or other third parties such as credit bureaus) and review whether that information is actually necessary for the purposes for which it was collected.  In this regard, minimality is key – business should not collect more personal information than is required. Importantly, the term “personal information” is defined very broadly to mean any information that can be used to identify an individual person or another business entity.

 

 

Get rid of what you do not need

Under POPI, a business cannot keep a record of personal information once the reason for which it was collected no longer exists, unless required by law.  For example, unless required by law, a business should not keep the personal information of any former supplier when the relationship has ended.  Businesses should therefore check whether they are holding onto any old records of personal information that they no longer need and dispose of them in a secure manner.  It is important to note that more data means more risk and it is best to purge what is not required.

Look at security

Correct management of personal information means appropriate security must be in place to protect it. POPI requires a business to put in place “appropriate, reasonable technical and organisational measures” to prevent loss, theft, or damage to personal information.  The suitability of security measures will depend on the business and the type of personal information it holds.

READ MORE: Get your POPI Act together

Marketing

Opt-out marketing emails and SMSs are a thing of the past under POPI. Unless a person is an existing customer, a business cannot send him or her marketing emails or SMSs without first getting consent from the person. Any request for marketing consent must include language that is set out in Regulations to POPI. Businesses should therefore review their direct marketing practices.

Go for the easy wins

POPI compliance may seem like a daunting task but there are some “easy wins” when it comes to compliance.  Basic documents used by the business will likely need updating for POPI compliance. These include company privacy policies and employee and supplier contracts. All these documents should aid the business in proving its compliance with POPI.

READ MORE: 4 Tips to protect your business online

 

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Real Estate Phishing Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

Real Estate Phishing Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

Real Estate Phishing Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

 

A new digital world presents new digital threats.

Real estate transactions are at high risk of cybercrimes, particularly phishing scams, a trend that is spiking due to an increase in online communications, work from home policies, and weak software security systems.

Phishing, which has risen by 350% since the pandemic began according to a Google Report, is a cybercrime perpetrated by persons or groups who contact potential victims posing as legitimate institutions to lure them into providing private data, such as banking and credit card details, passwords, or personal identification information.

Phishing Threatens to Derail Deals

According to Interpol, an increase in cyberattacks has left both individuals and businesses vulnerable. 

Mark Coetzee, Head of Buyers Trust, a subsidiary of ooba Home Loans, says that this too affects the real estate sector with large transactions are taking place daily. “The risk is two-fold,” adds Coetzee. “Agents are at risk of losing the buyer’s deposit, and as a result the entire deal while buyers are at risk of losing their hard-earned deposits.”

He adds: “Fees paid in the home buying process are substantial, and the e-mail trails in some cases are easily accessible, leaving all parties open to the risk of phishing”,

These types of crime commonly and easily occur when e-mail records between the agent, buyer, and the respective lawyers to whom the deposit is paid are intercepted and ultimately, ‘phished’.

Cybercriminals will hack into the title company or real estate’s system to study the language used, the format of the information, and the transactions, to ensure they appear informed and legitimate in order to commit convincing fraud.

Protect Yourself from Scammers

With so many people working remotely and the security risks this poses, Coetzee says that vigilance is key. “On the office network, most parties were protected by various layers of security. However, the process of installing this level of security at a home office level is still lacking”

All parties should stick to the golden rule: If something feels ‘off’, go with your gut. “Contact the relevant parties via phone to confirm and do your due diligence prior to responding on a platform like e-mail, which can be easily intercepted.” says Coetzee.

Why Buyers Trust?

“Buyers Trust is specifically designed to securely store often hefty deposit amounts, without risk of interception. Buyers Trust allows you full visibility of your deposit at all times, in an account that is in your own name, so you’ll have 100% peace of mind of the safety of your deposit.”

Benefits of Buyers Trust include:

  • An added layer of high-level security, as their deposit will be secured with one of South Africa’s major banks, making it comparable to a bank guarantee, but without the hefty price tag.
  • The buyer retains more control over their investment, as the account is opened in their own name.
  • Buyers experience greater transparency, as they will have access to statements at any time.
  • Buyers will achieve a highly competitive Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Peace-of-mind for both parties knowing that the buyer’s deposit is safe.

“Buyers Trust is regulated by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and takes comprehensive measures to combat fraud and ensure the security of buyers’ home deposits. As well as the added security, buyers are more likely to receive better interest on their deposits than if they had chosen to leave the handling of their finances to a transfer attorney,” concludes Coetzee.

READ MORE: 4 Tips to protect your business online

 

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4 Tips to Protect your Business Online

4 Tips to Protect your Business Online

4 Tips to Protect your Business Online

 

How to ensure your business software provider is doing all it can to protect your data

In the past few years, privacy breaches around the world have made technology users conscious about the way their data is being used. You only need to look at the growth of privacy-centric products like search engine DuckDuckGo to see how mainstream privacy awareness has become.

But data privacy issues don’t just affect private individuals. They can have a massive impact on businesses, with the average data breach costing in excess of R43-million. Surveillance companies, which rely heavily on showing ads to survive, collect user information even from adjunct properties (such as websites of service providers) without users’ permission. B2B companies frequently use products and services from these surveillance companies, giving them access to their users’ data.

What can you do to ensure that you find a business software provider that doesn’t drag you into this trap?

1. Ensure they don’t allow third-party trackers

Many business software providers use third-party trackers that allow them to study their website visitors. However, the apps they use to track them use that data to sell ads. This is known as adjunct surveillance. With the upcoming macOS Big Sur update, it will be easier for users to know which websites are tracking them.

When it comes to choosing a software solution for your organisation, look for the ones which entirely block third-party companies across all their properties. Another thumb rule is that vendors who have an ad-based revenue model, are dependent on selling your data so it’s best to avoid them, if you are serious about protecting your data.

READ MORE: A Practical POPIA Guide to Kickstart Your POPIA Compliance

2. Look for regulatory compliance

While governments around the globe have generally been slow when it comes to enacting protective legislation, they have made up ground in recent years.

In South Africa, for instance the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) recently came into effect, while the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been so since May 2018.

While being able to demonstrate compliance is by no means a guarantee that your business software provider will protect your data, it shows that they at least have basic privacy and security structure in place.

3. Regular communication around data protection

One of the most powerful tools any organisation has at its disposal when it comes to data protection is user education. The data and security landscape is, after all, evolving constantly and your business software provider needs to be on top of that.

If your provider is educating you on the latest data threats, it’s a powerful demonstration that it cares about you keeping your data secure. Moreover, a provider that empowers its clients in this way is a good indicator that it’s doing everything on its end to protect your data too.

4. It’s honest about its revenue streams

In the business software space, the old saying about cheap being expensive can be further extrapolated to “free can prove really expensive”.

If a service is free, think twice before using it in your organisation (no matter how much money you think it might save). Rather look for providers which at least have some form of paid product. This means they’re much less likely to depend on ad-revenue and therefore expose your data to other parties.

 Prioritising privacy

Over the past few years, millions of words have been devoted to talking about how valuable user data is. Because of the value, we have probably swung too far when it comes to surveillance and harvesting.

It’s time to swing in the other direction. You should always own your data and, far from selling it, your business software provider should be doing everything in its power to protect it.

READ MORE: Scams are on the Rise: Here’s What You Need to Know

 

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