With NFT artwork selling for millions of dollars, the use cases of this new technology are still at the point of exponential discovery.
Theres a saying in tech that ‘if your parents can wrap their heads around something, it’ll become mainstream’. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and NFT technology is a different beast to tackle, but I did just that.
Out for dinner with my folks, I decided to try and explain NFTs to them, and I approached it in a way that I’m not sure is accurate nor common (or maybe it was both) but it struck that ‘lightbulb moment’ for them both.
We’re sat in a small restaurant that has huge blackboards and art on the walls, and I ask them if they could imagine in 5 years that these blackboards may be digital boards – like advertising signs you see at the airport or train stations. These boards were just being utilised to present their wine list, and I made the point that the same style could be achieved via a digital display – easy to update without erasing all 40 wines in stock, and rotating through different looks for different event types. Maybe a rustic, coffee-house look for a mid-week night in, or a futuristic, sleek vibe for a tech conference being held nearby.
They replied that they could imagine such a vision in the future. If cycling advertising signs are already doing this today (and even doing so within NFTs already), and TV-technology is already super thin and super detailed, it isn’t far fetched from a physical standpoint that this will happen, right?
I then asked if they could imagine a time in 5-10 years where art might also be digital. At this point they hit a brick wall of understanding, to them art is a wholly physical experience. I took out an NFT that a colleague had made, I clicked on its link so that it became interactive, and put it up against the wall. I asked them to imagine something like this on the wall, again, rotating with different art styles, artists, visions and more. It became clear to them then.
Finally, I told them to imagine this artwork as one of a kind – in the same way a Banksy is – and if a high-end restaurant would actively seek out to own or feature a Banksy or esteemed piece of art on their wall in such a digital form – across the internet, there are already dozens of list articles highlighting the best restaurant experiences with art. How would they ever be able to verify its authenticity/ownership and uniqueness, especially in an age of smartphones where a tap can instantly save any image?
This is where blockchain comes in, and this is why NFTs are so unique and in demand at the moment. It’s a solution to a problem most of us didn’t realise was actually needed.
The potential use cases are beyond abundant, from the art-in-the-restaurant vision my parents could wrap their head around, to more creative and entwined ecosystem solutions, NFTs and their link with blockchain technology are at the very peak of a monumentally shifting technological iceberg right now.
One NFT use case submerged under the iceberg that hasn’t been capitalized upon yet is an ecosystem allowing for the creation of NFT ‘ideas’ – different ideas for brands (for example, a catchy advertising idea for an upcoming sneaker line or movie) and they mint that idea on the blockchain in a dedicated marketplace, matching investors and creatives. That’s crucially important for two reasons; firstly, it stops brands or companies from stealing pitches (sadly a common occurrence around the world), and secondly, it opens up for a brand ‘bidding’ system (different brands or clients view the NFT ad idea and bid on it if it’s applicable to them – the highest bidder wins the ad idea, with it all being stored on-chain, verifiably proving which bidder has the rights to the ad idea and vision).
One could even spin that for the £1.5 trillion dollar clothing industry. Currently, there’s no central space to ‘pitch’ or host clothing ideas, like new sneaker designs or hoodies – a new marketplace to post up NFTs of your designs to clients would be a revolutionary use-case for NFTs, allowing any client that purchases the NFT the rights to produce that design (with baked in royalties, so sales automatically funnel royalties to the design creator).
The current NFT ecosystem is at the very tip of a behomoth-sized iceberg, and the technological changes and implementations we’ll see within the next few years – both in technologies we know and understand, and the undercurrents of things we don’t think actively about – will change the ways humans interact with technology forever.
Alexander von Kaldenberg is the Founder & CEO of GoChip Pet Technology and Director of Marketing for Velas AG.