Whether it is the rise of fintech or e-commerce, digitalization has played its part in improving accessibility for assets and enabling the frictionless transfer of value over the Internet. However, the current system still needs more credibility.
Any user buying a branded item is always concerned about its origin. For instance, after buying a diamond, the end customer can never be sure about its authenticity. More importantly, it is extremely difficult to establish the quality of the diamonds and then justify the cost. When the diamond turns into jewelry and gets historical value, the need for credibility or origin increases exponentially.
Connecting this with other real-world assets, such as art or collectibles, makes it even more worthwhile to pursue the need for authenticity. Moreover, the marketplace for such authenticity is increasing, and NFT will be worth $231 billion in 2030. In the NFT guide, we will discuss what NFTs are, how it differentiates from fungible token, their characteristics, and the NFT marketplaces.
If you wanted to buy Mona Lisa, you can never be sure if it is the same Mona Lisa as painted by Leonardo da Vinci. There is a high probability of the original Mona Lisa being replaced with a fake. Even if it goes through extensive verifications, no one except Leonardo da Vinci can provide the much-needed credibility for the painting being original.
A major reason behind this is the fact that the painting has been bought and sold numerous times, and it has been impossible to track the original one. Therefore, even certain attributes of the painting have changed with time, and there is no way of establishing the authenticity of the original painting.
What if a digital record existed where Leonardo da Vinci himself provided the necessary description or characteristics to identify the original painting?
A digital record, where the ownership of the painting can be traced back to its origin, establishes trust among the buyers and creates a transparent environment for the valuation of the painting. This is what Non-fungible tokens do.
The first step for understanding NFTs is realizing the fact that NFT is a token, representing an asset that is Non-Fungible. There are two concepts here – the first is tokenization on Blockchain, and the second is an asset with the property of non-fungibility.
Fungible VS Non-Fungible Tokens
At a broad level, assets are of two types; fungible and non-fungible.
Fungible assets are those that can be interchanged because they possess similar properties. For example, if you own one bitcoin, it hardly matters which bitcoin it is because every bitcoin has the same value. Trading such assets is further simplified with the advent of digitalization.
At the same time, trading unique assets has become extremely difficult.
Sending or receiving money or cryptocurrency on the Internet is not that difficult, but what if you want to send or receive ownership to maybe an MP3 file that you created? Such an asset is non-fungible.
Non-fungible assets, on the other hand, can not be interchanged.
When it comes to representing non-fungible assets on the Internet, it is more complex than representing a fungible asset. For instance, the origin of a non-fungible asset plays a considerable role in defining its authenticity and value. In contrast, the origin of a fungible asset is not that important as they carry the same value. Another aspect is the credibility of a non-fungible asset being original.
This is where Non-Fungible Tokens revolutionise asset digitalization.
What are NFTs
Using NFTs, a unique asset can be represented on top of a Blockchain network carrying some unique properties and a defined value. Tokens on Blockchain represent the ownership of an asset that can be physical or digital. Transferring these tokens represents the transfer of ownership of the asset rather than the asset itself.
Considering the diamond example again, each diamond can be represented on the Blockchain network using NFTs. When an NFT is sold, the ownership of the diamond in the physical world is transferred to the buyer. In essence, the diamond can be in the mines and still be tradable in an authentic way.
These NFTs are stored on the immutable ledger of Blockchain. Therefore, the data belonging to the NFTs stays on the Blockchain forever and can be referenced at any time for audits or other purposes.
Characteristics of NFTs
NFTs can not be divided into smaller parts unlike fungible assets such as a 20-dollar note that can be divided into smaller units. There is a concept of partial ownership that is often confused with subdividing the NFTs, but in essence, partial ownership is owning a particular part of the NFTs.
The actual asset may be destroyed, but the corresponding data of that asset that exists on the Blockchain is indestructible. Therefore, the asset itself stays in the Blockchain’s record for as long as the Blockchain is there. A suitable example to understand this would be buying a ticket to a movie. The ticket is destroyed after the event is over but the record of who bought the ticket will always be there in the ledger.
Proof of ownership
During the creation of an NFT, the origin of the asset gets embedded into the Blockchain ledger, which provides proof of ownership. Therefore, even if a ticket is bought and sold a hundred times, the latest owner can always verify the ticket’s origin and be sure about its authenticity.
Currently, there are multiple Blockchain platforms that allow the creation of NFTs which is why NFTs have become platform-specific. More details on this are provided in the next section.
The last and most important mention among the features of NFTs would refer to the scarcity or rarity of NFTs. Rarity is actually one of the fundamentals driving the value of NFTs.
Different platforms for creating NFTs
As mentioned before, NFTs are created on top of a Blockchain platform. Therefore, there are different Blockchain platforms that can be used to create NFTs. These NFTs are specific to the platform used and hence non-interchangeable meaning that an NFT on Blockchain platform A can not be transferred to Blockchain platform B.
Mentioned below are the most popular Blockchain platforms currently being used for NFT creation:
Ethereum is the most popular Blockchain platform for the creation of NFTs. The first NFT in the world, CryptoPunks, was created on Ethereum. Since then, there has been exponential growth in the Ethereum NFT space. Therefore, Ethereum has the biggest marketplace for NFTs. Projects such as Opensea and Rarible are part of the Ethereum NFT ecosystem.
NFTs created on the Ethereum Blockchain can belong to the smart contract standards ERC721 and ERC1155.
There are certain drawbacks too in the Ethereum ecosystem which include a high gas fee for transactions, it is mainly because of the higher number of transactions than the network’s capacity. There is a possibility of these drawbacks being rooted out with the advent of Ethereum 2.0 but that is not expected anytime soon. Another possible solution is developing NFTs on layer 2 solutions such as Matic.
Flow is one of the most prominent Blockchain platforms for NFTs. Developed by Dapper labs, Flow Blockchain provides a more suitable atmosphere for NFTs free from network congestion and high transaction fees. Flow also provides NFT-specific features which make the NFT creation process more streamlined.
The smart contract language for creating NFTs on the Flow Blockchain is Cadence. One of the most popular projects on Flow is NBATopShots which has gained immense popularity in the NFT domain.
WAX has been built specifically for accommodating NFTs, providing a sustainable ecosystem. In addition, WAX has introduced vIRLsTM, which allows consumer product companies to bridge the gap between the real and digital world by linking NFTs with physical goods.
The smart contract language used for creating NFTs on WAX Blockchain is C++. Being one of the popular and most used programming languages, C++ has allowed considerable community growth of WAX.
Another upcoming Blockchain platform gaining immense popularity in the public domain, Algorand, also provides the facility of creating NFTs.
Algorand uses a pure Proo-of-Stake consensus algorithm which allows it to combat the Blockchain trilemma of Security, Scalability, and Decentralization.
Other Blockchain platforms for NFT creation are Tron Blockchain, Binance Smart Chain, Polkadot, Tezos, and Cosmos.
The steps to make an NFT are as follows:
- Choose a digital asset you want to monetize
- Finalize the blockchain technology you want to use and set up the digital wallet
- Select the NFT marketplace
- Upload the file on the marketplace to mint the NFT
- Further, you can keep it or sell it by starting an auction or selling at a fixed price.
NFT in 2022 and the future
NFT did well at the start of the year 2022 and with total spending of $2.7 billion on minting NFTs but in the latter half of the year, we are witnessing a drop in prices and users losing the NFT due to errors. Therefore, there will be fluctuations in the market as per present market conditions.
With new technologies and challenges, companies must bring inclusivity and sustainably to NFTs. There is a lot of diversity in the NFT marketplace. The smart way would be to go for community building as metaverse will gain popularity in upcoming years; creators, enterprises, and developers all would be benefitted.
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