NFTs are not just about art. Into this exploding field comes established player, Mintbase, with ambitions to rethink NFTs. Just as we get our heads around the concept of digital art NFTs then another cargo-load of applications arrives to really fry the brains.
So let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? Carolin Wend joined me from sunny Lisbon to go through some of the basics. First up, NFTs themselves or non-fungible tokens.
“There are two types of tokens, fungible and non-fungible. Fungible for example is like a dollar or a euro. It’s exchangeable ‘like for like.’ In addition, it’s tangible so you can break it down and swap one dollar for two 50cent pieces.
“On the other hand, a non-fungible token is something unique and which cannot be broken into two pieces. An example might be a birth certificate or a title to a house. It might also be a ticket, a song or anything except money. Anything in this world can be an NFT – it’s the new standard of technology – it’s like an open API.”
NFTs first came to prominence with digital art. Finally, artists were able to share their art online showing not only provenance but also delivering a unique art piece – one that could not be copied as the original was backed with an NFT.
“We quickly realised that there were other applications for NFT. We organised NFT ticketing for an event in Berlin called MetaCartel Demo Day with non-fungible tokens or ticketing. Every ticket was an NFT.
“So people could buy the ticket in Eth and store it in their cryptocurrency wallet. This is a shift from traditional ticketing using something like Eventbrite where you get an email or a QR code. Using NFTs means you actually own the ticket and if you don’t want to go to the event you could sell it on an ERC-complaint platform like Opensea.
“For us, this was a game-changer – we were not talking about digital collectables here we were talking about actionable possessions. You can trade this ticket on the web, store it in your wallet and it may even give you voting rights depending on the usage of the NFT.”
Since then Mintbase has been pioneering ticket NFTs over the past two years offering ticketing for other events including NFT NYC and NEARCon. Last summer, it was at Wilder Mohre festival redeeming NFTs for beer. For Lisbon Blockchain Week, in October 2021, Mintbase partnered with brick and mortar businesses to exchange NFTs for IRL assets: cocktails, burritos, skateboards, you name it.
Backing these new evolving concepts is the project co-founded with Nate Geier called Mintbase. Founded in 2019, it got a cash injection of $1 million during the lockdown. Aside from the achievement of fundraising during a pandemic, the investors are dispersed across America, China and Europe giving a strong vote of confidence in the platform and team. Mintbase is now in the middle of raising its series A in 2022.
The team has since grown to ten: Carolin and Nate as co founders, with four core devs, one UI designer and three in marketing.
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At the core of Mintbase is a desire to unlock the full potential for NFTs and they want to use their platform as a means for people to create their own businesses.
“We are not like a Nifty Gateway or other minting platforms, instead we are a smart contract factory.”
Although Mintbase was originally built on the Ethereum platform, the rocketing gas prices made it rethink its strategy and now they are partnering with the Near Blockchain.
“We looked at a number of blockchains last year, we looked at layer two solutions, and then we looked at Near with their sharding solutions and the fact they use the popular Rust programming language. We like the team and their roadmap.”
Back to Mintbase where it is not just NFT art, they have set up other categories for expansion including music, gaming, tickets, news and photography.
“NFT is a killer technology. The battle test with artists was great but now we are looking for projects to design an interface, create their own smart contract and even make tokens for each category.”
Carolin suggests we could do this with the podcast attached to this article and interview.
“You could upload the MP3 and every NFT might be one category so you could build an entire decentralized news agency on Mintbase and all the NFT metadata is stored here – we have bought 100 years’ worth of storage up front – and can be here forever or at least a long time.”
Other suggestions might be a decentralized music application. One example is DAO Records a very well-known musician. He has one smart contract and other musicians and artists are encouraged to make NFTs on his smart contract. He is creating his own business and is being very creative in the process.
“As we move into the future, the next phase of NFT generation, we are going to see NFTs used to unlock digital content but also to connect with physical assets. Your house or a Nike shoe may be represented by an NFT and these can be redeemed when people purchase the NFT.
“Ultimately, we can put assets on-chain to improve provenance, eliminate lying and make every transaction transparent.”