The non-fungible token craze perhaps tops the list of global tech trends for Q1 2021. Small artists, big companies, tech giants, celebrities, magazines, museums, programmers, musicians, ALL want a piece of NFT hype.
Stay non-fungible, stay free
NFT has become another perfect option for a very loud and quite effective PR campaign. In some cases, it could attract attention not only to business, or art, but to more deep social or political matters. This week, the famous NAS whistleblower Edward Snowden sold an amusing NFT artwork for over US$5 million (the piece was bought for ETH, hence the price depends on the cryptocurrency rate). The piece, called «Stay Free», is a combination of all the scandalous 2013 US court documents rulings about the illegal NSA mass surveillance, put together in a form of the iconic portrait of Snowden himself. One can see his famous glance through elegant glasses as a mosaic of documents’ lines.
Interestingly, and unprecedentedly, the artwork was purchased by not a single collector, but by a group of people who never met each other, and some of them prefer to stay anonymous. The group is actually a DAO, decentralised autonomous organisation, called PleasrDAO and aimed at building a digital art investment powerhouse. The organisation’s philosophy clearly echoes the whole decentralisation power stance, and Snowden’s own motto.
“Snowden represents the cypherpunk ethos that I identify with—transparency for all,” says a member of PleasrDAO. “Blockchains also give you that.”
Celebrities: loose yourself in an NFT moment, or loose sleep
From musicians to basketball players, tokenisation and NFTisation craze has taken over celebrities of all kinds. While even Paris Hilton admits thinking of tokens day & night and goes out with her own digital pets, cuties “Crypto Hilton” and “Ether Reum”, the latest NFT drop the music world welcomed this week came from rap artist and producer Eminem. Created in collaboration and for the NiftyGateway platform, it’s nicely modelled as a festival of collectibles like figurines and comic books, and named «Shady Con».
A whole collection of original instrumental beats produced by Slim Shady himself can be purchased by fans, and will definitely add some wood to a huge global fire of NFT boom.
IBM x NFT
The tech giant IBM joined the NFT carousel with a fresh idea that would actually help to solve a long standing problem: the lack of transparency for intellectual patents. Intellectual property specialist IPwe, which has been working with IBM for years on a blockchain solution for the patent industry, announced that it will begin representing patents as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), or digital assets, in a deal announced in conjunction with IBM.
“Enterprise wouldn’t even look at blockchain a few years ago. … We’re now at that adoption phase. … The first corporate asset is not a Dorsey tweet or Beeple image, but a corporate asset that starts to solve a business need,” says Erich Spangenberg, founder of IPwe.
Crypto Mom warns: don’t play with your securities!
Hype-like cycles can be fun until a real-life questions are raised by lawyers and regulators: what happens to an NFT token if an underlying asset is destroyed? Who assures intellectual rights? And, as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner aka Crypto Mom Hester Peirce warned, what if some NFT issuers are pushing the legal boundaries in the types of NFTs they create that can be considered securities. Peirce said the Howey test, which is used to determine whether or not an asset is a security, does not work well for digital assets, as its basic logic does not apply in the same way as it does to physical assets. “You better be careful that you’re not creating something that’s an investment product, that’s a security”, she said. “The definition of security can be pretty broad.”