Where Are NFTs Headed? Part One

Trigger warning: There is non Cardano content in this article. Cardano’s slow and steady approach means that, quite honestly, there are blockchains that are ahead of us in some ways. I’m confident that we will catch up. However sometimes I think it’s important to peek outside our ecosystem and see what others are working on. So lets have a look at NFTs trends across the crypto sphere.

Digital Identity

Who are you anyway? Who are your friends? Do you know their real names? Or just their online persona? Many of us are managing intersecting digital and physical lives. So therefore, the digital identity you create becomes pretty important, particularly if you are managing it on several platforms. Covid forced us to get used to being at home and the metaverse is giving us new reasons to stay there. So digital identity is increasingly important. How much time have you spent creating yours? On each platform? Do you use filters on Zoom? How long do you take to find the right pfp (profile picture)? Is it different on every platform? It probably is and, if you violate the rules of that platform, all of that investment could be lost – because you don’t own any of it. A platform like Twitter or Instagram can just delete your account if they choose. This means all of your work in creating that digital identity disappears like smoke. 

But what if you owned a carefully crafted, custom built avatar? NFTs could do that for us. It would allow you to spend all of that time once, and then take your NFT avatar with you from platform to platform. It’s kind of like owning a house versus renting, but even better. Imagine being able to seamlessly transition between web3 platforms using your verified digital avatar. Twitter is now allowing verified accounts to use the NFTs in their wallets as PFPs. However, its only a small portion of users and only under very specific conditions. There is a start up, pfpid, that is creating an NFT ID card that is tied to your real life identity.

Pfpid is on the Ethereum platform and requires KYC. The advantage is that you complete KYC verification one time and then use the card without having to verify over and over again. Access to events, NFT drops, verification on socials – all of these are available at the click of a mouse – and a pfpid card. 

In the Cardano ecosystem we are familiar with the idea of digital identity, of course. Atala Prism is focused on building self owned, digital identities- starting in Africa. It’s based on fingerprints, not NFTs, but the premise of a mobile, self owned identity is similar in concept. Also, any discussion of digital identity in the Cardano ecosystem is incomplete without mentioning ADA Handle. In case you are not familiar with Cardano, ADA Handle offers the ability to choose a personalized NFT that becomes your identifier – as opposed to the unwieldy wallet addresses that are indigenous to cryptocurrency. Since you pick your ADA Handle, it is really a part of your digital identity. I have one – $TravelerJo. It is an easy and efficient tool for real world Cardano usage. Particularly if people want to send you stuff.

Digital Stuff

Of course, we all have a lot of stuff. Now, as we have both physical and digital lives, we need physical and digital things, right? Surely the marketing gurus want you to think so anyway. And they may be right – Morgan Stanley strategists are estimating that the metaverse could generate billions for the luxury sector in the next decade. Even Coca Cola is experimenting with NFTs and 3D marketing. The most obvious and straightforward use of NFTs and merchandising is marketing. In 2021 Louis Vuitton announced a game app that allows players to collect NFTs as they go on a virtual journey with Vivienne, the brand’s mascot. Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana also have premium NFT collections. The Dematerialized is a web3 fashion marketplace which allows fashionistas to purchase virtual luxury goods. In return they receive special access opportunities and can display their trophies in various ways as described on their website:

 Even IOHK used an NFT collection to encourage attendees to explore the 2021 Cardano summit:

In Coca Cola’s South African marketing campaign we see filters for fans to use on social media:

Once distributed, NFTs also allow manufacturers access to customers. They can send updates, special promotions or invitations directly to the wallets of people who have bought their products in the past. 

Anti- Counterfeiting Measures

Of course, all manufacturers are concerned about counterfeiting. The security of the blockchain means that NFTs can be used to help verify product validity also. Glenfiddich recently sold 15 bottles of ultra rare whiskey as NFTs. The customer retains the NFT as proof of ownership and the bottles stay in the custody of the manufacturer. When the new owner wants to take custody of the $46,000 bottle, they verify ownership with the NFT. The available bottles sold out in a matter of minutes. 

NFTs aren’t just for luxury brands, either. Cardano is on record as a partner of New Balance. So let’s talk about sneakers. When you buy a pair of brand name sneakers online how do you know that what you receive is the real thing? Here’s how this could work. A unique ID would be assigned to each pair of shoes. The customer would receive an NFT upon purchase. Upon receipt of the item, they could scan the QR code and make sure that the shoes match their receipt and the blockchain record. They might also have access to information about materials, or where the shoes were made. RealItems is a company that is using Vechain NFTs to fight fraud. They have some experience. During the height of covid they were busy combatting the issues of counterfeit masks:

Here is a link to an introductory video about their services:

NFT Tickets

I’m old enough that I still have a variety of paper tickets from memorable places and events. Of course they are stuck in various drawers in a completely unorganized fashion. NFTs as tickets fixes this problem and creates a number of new opportunities for both holders and venues. Digital tickets have been around for some time. However NFT tickets offer you a permanent memory that can live safely in your wallet without getting lost. It also provides an opportunity to build a long term relationship between the venue and the supporter. Merchants don’t have to store lists of customers. They can just airdrop notices or perks directly to NFT holders. This means that the ticket itself has a value beyond the experience. The tickets are ready quickly and difficult to counterfeit due to blockchain security. DC Comics is already giving out NFT tickets for its DC FanDome event. Mark Cuban is bringing NFT tickets to the NBA. As far as Cardano goes, Rare Bloom is currently in the spotlight. They are offering a number of perks with both their standard and VIP NFT tickets:

Wrap Up

This was originally going to be one article. As you can see,there is an incredible amount of innovation in this space and we haven’t even touched music, video, gaming, real estate or sports. So, while I write the next article, I encourage you to think about future uses for NFTs. How can they positively impact your world? What things can we simplify? Who knows? The next million dollar idea might be yours. Anything is possible in Cardano.

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