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Decentraland, the Ethereum-based, fully-decentralised virtual world

Camilla Marziani

By Camilla Marziani


Virtual real estate, meta-music festivals and pride parades: Decentraland, with its MANA token, is a platform shaping the future of virtual reality and bringing the possibilities of the metaverse to life. Read on to learn more.

Decentraland in a nutshell

Decentraland is a decentralised virtual reality platform - metaverse - running on the Ethereum blockchain. Decentraland’s beta version was launched in 2017, but it officially opened to the public only in February 2020. 

What can you do in Decentraland?

The virtual space inside Decentraland is called LAND, kept in NFTs based on Ethereum smart contract technology. LAND is divided into parcels that are distinguished using cartesian coordinates (x, y) and organised in neighbourhoods called Districts. Decentraland’s virtual economy functions based on Decentraland’s ERC20 token, MANA

To engage with the ecosystem, users need to store MANA in an Ethereum wallet connected to their Decentraland account. MANA allows users to purchase a variety of goods: from pieces of LAND to shoes for their avatar, but they can also spend MANA to attend special events, play-to earn, and use it as they would use fiat currencies in real life.

Real estate in metaverses has been in the spotlight in the tech sphere lately, especially when land in a virtual world has been sold for very high prices. In the case of Decentraland, a new record was reached in October when a slot of LAND in Decentraland’s Fashion District sold for 618k MANA, the equivalent of $2.43M.

Users can build all types of 3D places on LAND. This way, many communities have been evolving around Decentraland’s districts, where they are developing in line with users’ shared interests.

Other activities and events awaiting users in Decentraland include visits to galleries and museums, such as a virtual branch of Sotheby’s that was inaugurated last summer. You can also buy and collect NFTs of all kinds, or join in parades, such as the Decentraland Pride Parade 2021 or attend concerts and music festivals, such as the 4-day Metaverse Festival that was attended by Paris Hilton, Deadmau5 and many others back in October.

Aside from engaging in endless virtual events and activities, Decentraland users and developers can also profit from the platform. As stated in Decentraland’s whitepaper

“Decentraland is a distributed platform for a shared virtual world that enables developers to build and monetize applications on top of it. The scarcity of land, on top of which applications can be built, creates hubs that capture user attention, which drives revenue to content creators”.

Virtual reality meets decentralisation

You may have heard about virtual reality platforms already, but there’s something that Decentraland, The Sandbox and the many metaverse platforms on the rise have in common, and which distinguish them from traditional online virtual reality platforms: blockchain technology. Blockchain technology allows Decentraland to be fully decentralised, which in turn provides users with unique offers. Let’s see two examples.

Uniqueness and ownership through NFTs

One of the features provided by blockchain technology to Decentraland’s users is the particular type of ownership offered through NFTs. Starting from LAND, every collectable, wearable, piece of land/real estate and any good that can be purchased in Decentraland is an NFT: this means each item is unique and its ownership is stored on the Ethereum blockchain, therefore it’s also fully transparent. 

Decentraland’s Decentralised Autonomous Organization (DAO)

The heart of Decentraland is in its smart contracts and, to keep the metaverse fully decentralised, the most important smart contracts and other major assets are operated by Decentraland’s DAO - Decentralised Autonomous Organization. The DAO also holds a great amount of MANA, ensuring its autonomy. Decentraland users holding MANA can join the DAO and vote on matters related to the platform, its management and its future.

Through the DAO, users can vote and decide on issues such as LAND auctions, protocol upgrades, fees, allocations of MANA grants and content moderation. Ultimately, users themselves are responsible for - and are creators of - the same metaverse they enjoy and invest in, a feature that only blockchain technology can enable.

Exploring Decentraland: an experience 

If Decentraland has sparked your interest but you’re still pondering whether or not to take a step further, make sure you take a stroll around and discover it as a guest

This time we are taking you along, so you can take a peek at what it looks like.

To access Decentraland as a guest, you’ll need to create your avatar. You can personalise your avatar or get a randomised one. 

Your avatar will be brought to “Genesis Plaza”, a square that’s the “heart of genesis city”. Other users will be gathered in the Plaza, and you’ll be able to interact with them via text or voice message. From the Plaza, you can also discover events, places and popular activities in Decentraland displayed on billboards. 

You can wander and discover places as you please - within the limitations of the version for guests. For instance, strolling around you’ll discover NFT expositions or even visit a museum or an aquarium, but you could also fly on a dragon or play card games with other users. 

Copyright: Decentraland, visited on December 15.

How to start your research

Before investing in an asset, it is recommended you keep the following in mind: 

  • Don't forget to do your research. Get to know your asset before investing. In the case of Decentraland (MANA), you can learn more on Decentraland’s official website decentraland.org

  • Keep risks in mind along with possible profits. Make sure you know about the risks of investing and consider what kind of profits you are looking to achieve with your investment strategy.

  • Take a close look at your portfolio and see how it looks in terms of diversification and how the asset you are researching could fit in.

After answering these questions, are you ready to start investing? 

Where can you start investing in MANA?

On Bitpanda, you can invest starting in MANA and many other digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, crypto indices, precious metals and more from just €1, 24/7 and even automatically with Bitpanda Savings

Open a Bitpanda account today. It is fast, simple and secure via Bitpanda’s Web App or on our app for iOS and Android. Verify your account, make your first deposit choosing your favourite payment method - including SEPA Instant - and you can start investing right away. 

Camilla Marziani

Camilla Marziani

Global content specialist, blockchain enthusiast and coffee lover