By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - A patch of virtual real estate in the online world Decentraland sold for a record $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrency, the buyer crypto investor Tokens.com COIN.NLB and Decentraland said on Tuesday.
Decentraland is an online environment - also called a "metaverse" - where users can buy land, visit buildings, walk around and meet people as avatars.
Such environments have grown in popularity this year, as the pandemic caused people to spend more time online.
Interest surged last month when Facebook changed its name to Meta to reflect its focus on developing virtual reality products for the metaverse.
Decentraland is a specific type of metaverse that uses blockchain. Land and other items in Decentraland are sold in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a kind of crypto asset.
Crypto enthusiasts buy land there as a speculative investment, using Decentraland's cryptocurrency, MANA.
A subsidiary of Tokens.com, called the Metaverse Group, bought a patch of real estate for 618,000 MANA on Monday, which was around $2,428,740 at the time, a Decentraland spokesman and a statement by Tokens.com said.
Reuters also saw the land's purchase recorded on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Decentraland said it was the most expensive purchase of a plot of virtual real estate on the platform.
The land is in the "Fashion Street" area of Decentraland's map and Tokens.com said it would be used to host digital fashion events and sell virtual clothing for avatars.
It is made of 116 smaller parcels, measuring 52.5 square feet each, making the land 6,090 virtual square feet in size.
Andrew Kiguel, CEO of Tokens.com, said the assets would complement the real estate already held by Metaverse Group.
In June, a plot of virtual land in Decentraland sold for 1,295,000 MANA, worth $913,228 at the time. The buyers built a virtual shopping centre to sell digital clothing, but Reuters has visited this site multiple times since and not seen any shoppers.
MANA is highly volatile. It has gained around 400% this month according to Coinbase, spiking after Facebook's name change.
UPDATE 13-Facebook changes name to Meta as it refocuses on virtual reality
EXPLAINER-What are NFTs?
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee and Barbara Lewis)
((Elizabeth.Howcroft@thomsonreuters.com; +44 02075427104;))
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