Nedbank buys land in non-existent Ubuntuland metaverse

Nedbank has become the latest major South African company to hop onto the non-fungible token (NFT) craze by buying digital land in Africarare’s Ubuntuland metaverse, which does not yet exist.

The bank said it secured a 12 x 12 village consisting of 144 plots in Ubuntuland to make it the first African financial services organisation to enter the metaverse.

“This forms part of the financial services group’s strategy to lead in digital, go beyond banking, discover new marketing platforms and leverage new technology to better serve its customers and stay at the forefront through forward-thinking solutions,” said Nedbank.

“Nedbank joins global players such as DBS Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan, and Fidelity Investments who have partnered with metaverses globally.”

Nedbank executive for marketing and corporate affairs, Khensani Nobanda, said Nedbank saw the buy as an opportunity to meet the needs of its clients on platforms that resonated with them.

The bank said its village would focus on customer value and services, and offer experiences like virtual gaming and a sports lounge.

Concept image of virtual sports lounge in Nedbank’s plot in Ubuntuland

Nedbank said it is joining Ubuntuland’s early “settlers” that include MTN, World Data Lab, and M&C Saatchi Abel.

In simple terms, Ubuntuland is supposed to be a 3D virtual world populated with NFTs connected to the Ethereum blockchain.

NFTs could represent user avatars, in-world objects, and the world’s spaces themselves. It is up to developers to create in-world representations for each of these NFTs.

Ubuntuland’s promised metaverse is still a far cry from what it promises.

In April this year, MyBroadband could not buy a plot in Africarare’s Ubuntuland through the channels described on its website.

Instead, we were signed up to 13 different marketing mailing lists and never received a quote for a plot.

We also looked through Ubuntuland’s Kraal and Mila Gallery conceptual “realms” and found they were deserted. On one occasion, we found another person in the world.

Curiously, a day after MyBroadband’s report, Africarare held a flash land sale which saw 149 plots sell for 0.048 Ethereum each on the Opensea NFT marketplace.

With the value of Ethereum at the time, each plot would have cost about $142 per plot, or R2,225.

In July 2022, there was another set of plot sales.

A map of Ubuntuland’s Kraal and Mila Gallery areas

It is important to emphasise that although there are concept “realms” available from the Africarare website, including the Central Kraal and Mila Gallery areas — there is currently no actual traversable 3D world that contains NFTs connected to a blockchain.

Although Nedbank did not reveal how much it paid for its 144 plots, the transaction history for Ubuntuland’s NFTs on Opensea provides an indication of what it might have cost.

At the current average price selling price of 0.0822 Ethereum per plot, Nedbank could have paid 11.8368 Ethereum for its digital property in Ubuntuland.

That converts to roughly R283,500 at the time of publication.

Mann Made Media, the company behind Africarare and Ubuntuland, previously told Cape Talk that a single plot sells for roughly $149.

At that price, Nedbank would have paid closer to R395,000 for its 12×12 square of virtual land.

Now read: Mr Price launches nightmare fuel NFTs

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Nedbank buys land in non-existent Ubuntuland metaverse