Over this past decade, we’ve seen a lot of new things pop up, all thanks to blockchain. From virtually untraceable currencies which have now reached all time highs with having 0 intrinsic value, to digitally created artwork that can be electronically signed with a non-duplicable signature, there definitely has been a lot of talk.
NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are technically defined as items that cannot be replaced with something else. They’re a collectible digital asset, which holds its form in the form of a cryptocurrency so as to be measurable in terms of value. For example, a $50 note can be replaced with 5 notes of $10, but when it comes to NFTs, this is not the case.
Each NFT has within itself (within its code, so to speak) extra information that helps it be distinguishable from the rest of the crowd. Sure, NFTs can be duplicated, but the original NFT shall always have with it the information that authenticates it for being the original. This information may have the name of its owner, a virtual individual id in the form of an electronic signature, or just a specific code that allows it to have its own identity.
So, how does the process work when copies can essentially be created? Let’s take Nicolas Cage, for example. He essentially did get away with the real Declaration of Independence in National Treasure, but the gift shop lady made sure he paid $35 for the copy.
What I essentially mean by this particular example is that you can literally download the digital piece of art, a collectible card or even a goddamned funny GIF, but that piece of digital media will not have the same identity as the one that was the original. And since the collectible’s world depends highly on original artwork, the artwork with the digital code that authenticates it to be the original rendition will always be valued a lot more, which would also depend on say the market forces for that particular media.
Furthermore, since these NFTs need to be ascertained in value, they’re blocked by blockchain. Ethereum, if we are to be specific. It is with the help of the Ethereum blockchain that the NFTs can have with them extra information, which allows them to be transferred and converted to GIFs, JPEG images, MP3 and M4, etc etc.
NFTs have really picked up the pace over this past year or so. Since every piece of artwork can be digitally validated for being the original, it has been a game changer for collectibles who are most often ripped off due to duplicate copies that have been circulating within secondary markets. Additionally, the original identity of a NFT cannot be tampered with, since it is part of the blockchain that allows it to hold extra information with itself, and is accessible through various terminals around the entire world.
So, how are NFTs different, say than the skins you buy in Fortnite on your account? Whenever you buy a skin on Fortnite, you’re technically paying for its usage, not its ownership. With NFTs, you’re paying for the ownership of that very item, which means that the ownership of the asset has shifted to its buyer, and can be sold for even more amounts than which they were initially purchased, based upon the history of their ownership.
This can be explained impeccably by what Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter did recently. He offered the first ever tweet on Twitter for sale as a NFT, and say Elon Musk bought that NFT, the future value of that NFT will increase astronomically, since it was primarily auctioned off by the person who allowed people free access to ghetto therapy, and the premiere wünderkid of memes and innovations.
So, what is technically the point of owning a particular NFT? Well, there are a range of benefits of owning an NFT. Since the purchase of a NFT provides you with the ownership of the asset in particular, it allows you to trade them as speculative assets; they may be traded whenever their value fluctuates, and hence can be traded for other NFTs, much like the way collectible Pokémon cards can be traded.
Additionally, it allows you to support artists that you like, and it’s a much trendier form of support. You can pay them to come up with funny Instagram or telegram stickers so you can stick it to people whenever the discussion gets heated, or you can post it as your profile picture. And of course, you also get the bragging rights associated with them.
So, can anything available on the internet be bought as an NFT? The answer’s no. Anything that can be produced and digitally is something that can be sold as an NFT, and there are specific sites for people who want to say, buy baseball collectible cards or Telegram stickers. You can even buy NFTs issued by Logan Paul and his band of crackheads for up to $20,000, which are no different than the content he regularly uploads on his Snapchat and YouTube handles.
Nevertheless, NFTs do have a flip side, since everything is not so cool as it seems. They may have no or unprecedented intrinsic values based on the history of their ownership, the hype they may have due to a in demand meme format on Reddit and Instagram and the fact that they’re a time piece of digital history, or they may be something that’s just cool.
This may make people question the worth of a NFT that is in the form of a GIF. Well, let’s take a look at the Rainbow Cat GIF. It’s a cute GIF, but most people won’t substantiate paying a whopping amount of $690,00. Another infamous example is the Beeple’s Everday – The First 5000 days at Christies, a collage of paintings an artist prepared everyday during the past year in the pandemic fetched him an insane amount of $69.3 million, solely because it was being sold as a NFT which allowed the bidding to take off into catastrophic levels.
The fact that people are willing to pay such absurd amounts of money for stuff that may be quite irrelevant to others is a weird thing, since the intrinsic values of the GIFs that were being sold for the first time were 0, and yet they were valued so much that people were willing to pay their entire bank accounts to keep up with their hype.
There are some concerns over NFTs being a bubble, but the discussion isn’t quite yet substantiated since the stances taken by different influencers are directly controlling the narrative around NFTs. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk is a huge supporter of all things NFT, and feels that they will definitely be the next big thing, and is releasing podcasts to voice out his opinions on them quite often over the past few months. On the other hand, there has been an outcry over the use of blockchain to facilitate the use of NFTS, since they use up a lot of electricity and their carbon impact is apparently a new force in furthering global warming.
To conclude, the future of NFTs is still up to speculation, and since they’re backed by a blockchain currency that is considered as a substitute to Bitcoin, the value of NFTs will be subject to a mad swing of fluctuations, with every new piece of art capable of becoming the next big acquisition in the area of fintech and crypto.