MANA is an ERC-20 token used in the virtual reality platform Decentraland. The latter is a digital world akin to sandbox games, such as those in the Skyrim series. Meaning, it allows its users to explore a vast map, interact with each other, play games, build assets, and even monetize them. It features Minecraft-like graphics and aims to bring blockchain technology to the gaming world. Thus, its developers built this platform on top of the Ethereum one.
Ethereum is now wildly used in crypto casinos, and Dapps are a growing movement of applications that incorporate it to invent new business models. Popular ones include Uniswap, Dark Forest, Foundation, and PoolTogether.
So, in short, MANA is an interchangeable and reproducible token that you can only use to buy goods, services, and virtual real estate (LAND) in the Decentraland Marketplace. It serves no other purpose.
LAND is a non-fungible digital asset that you can purchase in Decentraland. It is an ERC-721 token that you can only buy using MANA. The ERC-721 standard is the same one utilized by CryptoKitties. It is not prone to fraud and is easily transferable.
LAND represents a plot that is 33x33 feet wide. However, there is no height limit regarding the tallness of the structures you can build on top of these parcels. You can combine adjacent plots of LAND to form an Estate, which is a larger, and more easily manageable bit of real estate. There is a cap of 90,061 LAND parcels, and you can also purchase them on secondary markets.
Decentraland has a three-layer protocol. Smart contracts power the consensus one, where LAND ownership gets tracked. Whenever someone buys LAND, the associated contracts burn MANA to create a new LAND section in the registry. The land layer provides the data necessary for the platform to render parcels, and it is where content gets distributed over this metaverse. The real-time one allows for peer-to-peer connections to get established.
MANA benefits from excellent liquidity. You can purchase, trade, or sell it on around one hundred different exchanges using a range of fiat currencies. Naturally, MANA is available at popular sites like Kraken, Bittrex, Binance, Coinbase Pro, and Huobi Global. The selling price may slightly differ depending on your chosen option. Each one will incur a different fee, as well as have a minimum order size. If you have funded your exchange account, then buying MANA should be simple. Since this is an ERC-20 token, you can store it in just about any Ethereum wallet.
MANA launched in September of 2017 at $0.02. Despite a short peak in January of 2018, it remained stagnant until sometime after December of 2020. It then shot up from about $0.1 at the start of January to $0.3 in mid-February 2021. At the time of writing, it is trading at $1.34, its highest price ever. The same month last year, it was at $0.02, which shows just how much this token exploded in popularity in 2021.
The main reason why this occurred is the rise of NFTs and rumors of an incoming virtual real estate boom. Today, Decentraland still feels sparsely populated and underdeveloped, but that can all change quickly. Virtual socialization is inevitable, and people have gotten rich amassing virtual real estate before. Ailin Graef managed to turn $10 into $1 million in the Second Life virtual world in 2006. Recently, the leading real estate crowdfunding platform, Republic Real Estate, launched a fund for digital deals and is now advising its users to spend money in virtual worlds.
Investors can also leverage MANA via lending or look to invest in creating or flipping digital assets. Because you can only use MANA to buy LAND, it is hard to predict what could affect its price down the line. Given that expectations are the Decentraland user base will continue to rise, it is a safe bet that, in the coming months, so should the price of MANA. Risks associated with investing in this world include data exploitation, crypto regulation impacting tokens, and Ethereum upgrades affecting this ecosystem.
Decentraland is one of several growing projects that use a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) structure for governance. That means that MANA token holders control what goes on in this world and what kind of policies get put in place.
New users do not need MANA tokens to explore this world, as you can do so as a guest. If you wish to have a customizable avatar, you will have to do some shopping in the Decentraland Marketplace. To become a LAND-owner, you will have to shell out 8,500 MANA for a 33x33 feet (16x16 meter) parcel. Note that currently, MANA has no worth outside the Decentraland metaverse.