Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, will use Hong Kong as a testing ground to roll out several metaverse initiatives as it brings virtual experiences to the city’s 7.4 million residents. Meta on Tuesday said that it will work with local partners such as cafe chains, schools and art institutions to provide “first-hand” metaverse experiences in the city and explore potential use of the metaverse in daily life. This will include virtual reality (VR) exhibitions at local cafes and open augmented reality (AR) training workshops for educators and secondary school students. It will also work with local creators in Hong Kong and share their non-fungible token projects on Instagram. The Hong Kong initiatives come amid Zuckerberg’s big bet on the metaverse, a virtual world where people are expected to socialise, play, trade and work in the future. Meta announced this week that it will soon roll out its virtual space Horizon Home to its headset product Quest 2. Meta also said this week that it will set up a Metaverse Academy in France. Meta and Animoca Brands face off over metaverse visions at Hong Kong webinar However, Meta has a Hong Kong rival that has a different, decentralised interpretation of how the metaverse should function. At a webinar hosted in the city last month, executives from Meta and Animoca Brands, the Hong Kong-based developer of blockchain gaming platform The Sandbox, publicly questioned each other’s business models as debate over the future of the metaverse heats up. George Chen, managing director of public policy for Greater China, Mongolia, and Central Asia at Meta, said the company’s moves in Hong Kong will help to promote understanding and use of the metaverse in the city and the wider Asia-Pacific region. “Hong Kong plays a key role in the technology ecosystem of the Asia-Pacific region, and Meta remains committed to driving economic and technological development in this market,” Chen said. In June and July, Meta will launch pop-up metaverse exhibitions in Central Market and Times Square, and visitors will be able to use the Meta Quest 2 VR headset to access the virtual experiences. It will also host training workshops for students and educators to help them learn AR skills. Meta’s metaverse push in Hong Kong follows an announcement last week by Amazon.com’s cloud computing business unit Amazon Web Services of a strategic collaboration with Hong Kong Science Park to nurture local tech professionals and help start-ups in fields such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence and software-as-a-service.