At the 2023 Las Vegas CONEXPO-CON/AGG, one of the largest construction trade shows in North America, Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (XCMG), a major Chinese heavy machinery company, announced its entry into Web3. It unveiled an NFT — Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) 3489 — as its metaverse ambassador.

The digital ape appears wearing an XCMG work uniform and safety helmet, similar to what the company’s machine operators would wear in real life. XCMG also announced plans to launch an Ethereum NFT series entitled “For Real,” in partnership with the tech company Zen Spark Technology, although details are currently scarce.

XCMG stated that the NFT project is a starting point for its exploration of Web3 technologies and that the supportive policies of the Hong Kong government have encouraged XCMG to create more applications and value on the blockchain.

XCMG’s purchase and commercial usage of a BAYC NFT is significant because it represents a rare crossover between an industry group and Web3. Traditionally, art institutions and fashion labels back metaverse initiatives since they aim to demonstrate to digitally savvy consumers that they are closely following the latest technological trends.

For instance, another major Chinese buyer of BAYC is sportswear giant Li-Ning, a major competitor to the likes of Nike and Adidas within the China market. In comparison, industry groups like XCMG have far fewer B2C businesses.

However, there are numerous potential advantages for industry groups like XCMG in launching metaverse IPs. Even though the average consumer may not purchase heavy machinery equipment, engaging Web3 projects can still enhance a company’s brand recognition among the general public. This is particularly relevant for firms aiming to showcase a nation’s industrial prowess, as is the case with XCMG, which has already featured its equipment in the popular Chinese film The Wandering Earth 2 (流浪地球2).

Additionally, the metaverse serves as an excellent platform for machinery groups to help consumers learn more about their industry. NFTs and digital machine components in a virtual city can spark consumer curiosity about their functions and operation methods. Furthermore, this generates an additional revenue stream.

The metaverse community should welcome the involvement of “nontraditional” Web3 participants. This will diversify the metaverse’s stakeholders just as confidence in the sector appears to be waning. Moreover, the metaverse will move closer to fulfilling its original goal of incorporating as many aspects of society as possible, rather than being perceived as an exclusive domain for crypto investors.