Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology conversations in mainstream (and even industry) media have largely focused on fungible tokens such as bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH). Fungibility essentially means that one unit of a commodity is transferable for another unit of that same commodity at a rate of 1:1 – none are unique. But we’re beginning to see exciting discussions and developments from another kind of token – a non-fungible or “digitally unique” token (aka NFT).
NFT.NYC and the Rise of the Non-Fungible Token
Non-fungible tokens are becoming an increasingly important category, best thought of as a kind of digital baseball card or other form of collectible. Our industry is only in the very beginning stages of a more thoughtful consideration of NFTs, their use cases, and their continued development.
A lack of fungibility provides interesting and important use cases – primarily through provable uniqueness. Receipts for products that have not been shipped yet, digital items in virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life), and collectibles all can benefit from the use of non-fungible tokens. In fact, a next generation Second Life virtual world, Decentraland, incorporates use of NFT to secure ownership of virtual real estate and goods.
Panels explored these possibilities, but my favorite was moderated by John Kosner, former EVP and general manager of ESPN. He and his panel discussed the idea of a tiered fan-to-athlete connection via NFTs. NFTs as badges of fandom would act as keys to greater access to the athlete via social media, chat apps, and opportunities purchase exclusive merchandise.
Based on my learnings at the NFT.NYC conference I’ll be dedicating increased attention on the developments in this underexplored aspect of blockchain technology. Projects like SkyLeague for AUX Labs abstract the use of Blockchain from the user experience and move us further from the snickering of media pundits over Cryptokitties. I’m a strong believer that 2019 and 2020 will be the inception of maturing conversations about provably unique digital objects and collectables.
Steve Beauregard is Bloq’s chief revenue officer