NFTs – Where Digital Transactions and Physical Value Collide

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Technology will never rescue anyone from being a bad poet, but if you’re good, it has the potential to do a lot of exciting things.

Stephen Vincent Benet, d 1943

While we are not going to consider the merits of poetry in this article, we will look at how technology can make good things better, in fact how technology can make things a lot better.

Currently, we are watching as NFTs sweep the world. This technology is fascinating, solving as it does the issue of creating provenance online and affirming that digital assets are unique. NFTs are also upsetting the apple cart across several industries, as befits an innovation that sprung from blockchain. We should expect nothing less.

What are NFTs, and why are they important out in the world, in the wild? Well, the NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. It’s easier to explain what it isn’t than what it is – a fungible token can be swapped for another, which shares an equal value and can be broken down into constituent pieces and still render the same amount. A dollar bill is a fungible token; it doesn’t matter which dollar bill you hold, they are all the same and have equal value, and you can break it into coins of small denominations and still exchange the value in a broken down format.

Non-fungible tokens do not work like that. NFTs are things like you and me, like birth certificates and property deeds. They are unique.  Finally, we can create assets online that are unique and provable so.

Currently, NFTs are hitting the headlines in the art and music world. Artists, especially digital artists, are selling art on the blockchain as NFTs, making big money. One of the biggest examples is the digital artist known as Beeple selling his 5000 days collage through Christies auction house and making $59 million. And while that is both eye-catching and eye-watering, what is more interesting is the fact that other artists are selling their art for much smaller but still healthy margins.

You might wonder why would someone buy a piece of digital art, but consider how much time the average person spends online, whether at a desk or on a mobile device. You may then wonder why they don’t buy more digital art. After all, you want your art to be where you are to enjoy it and we all spend a large amount of time in the digital world.

The other big area that is being disrupted by NFTs is music. Before Napster, typically music was sold in album and physical formats. Streaming totally changed the setup, people could download individual songs and mix and match as they liked. Once the legalities were sorted out this became the norm and people have Spotify playlists rather than buying albums.

This movement to streaming makes sense for the listener, but while it legalises how people buy music it has hurt the musicians with the vast majority of the money going to the delivery platform and a miniscule amount being paid to the artist. More recently, Kings of Leon released their 8th music album as an NFT. It made headlines – unusual for an 8th and apparently just solid album – but the exciting news is that in this case, the majority of the money earned went to the artists. This is a game-changer for all musicians who can reclaim their income.

Another fascinating use for NFTs is property and in this example, digital property. One of the more exciting digital developments is the rise of metaverses and includes big names like Decentaland, Upland, and Uplift World. Speaking recently with Idan Zuckerman, founder of Uplands, he said that all property in his metaverse was expressed as an NFT. He went on to say that property was one of the most clear-cut examples for NFTs – everyone understands that a property, even those in a high-rise tower block, is unique.

So while NFTs are tackling a universal issue with a welcome solution, offering provenance and securing unique digital assets, what technologies are helping do exciting things with good things?

Idoneus is a great example of a platform leveraging the technology to transform the business of luxury. The identity verification and smart contracts they have built on blockchain ensure the legitimacy of a transaction while providing security and lowering the costs that typically impact transactions in the luxury space. Rather than “cash,” they are shifting the emphasis to “value” using cryptocurrency (in this case, the native payment token IDON) as a secure medium of value exchange. One of the great things about Idoneus is that they have taken regulation very seriously from day one – ensuring compliance with requirements such as KYC and AML; people do value what they own, and Idoneus values the confidence that people place in them to help manage the risk they face with the things they value in their lives.

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