What Exactly Is An NFT? Beyond The Hype Of Overpriced Digital Artwork

March 22, 2022
Written By:
Written By:
March 22, 2022

NFTs have become the cultural phenomenon of the 21st century. We have collectively welcomed them, for the most part, into our lives and it seems that we cannot get enough of them. Here at TNC, we’ve been onto them for over a year now, even diving into the realm of NFT design and digital fashion ourselves.

Despite NFTs being present almost anywhere and everywhere you go these days, confusion seems to permeate most conversations about and around them. There is still a general social bafflement as to why on earth anyone would pay millions of dollars for a digital token. Many also believe they are nothing more than speculative assets.

For many who grew up as the torrent generation, constantly finding ways to download stuff for free on the internet, it is hard to grasp at first how something digital can have value. There is a certain dissonance between paying for something, and not being able to hold it, particularly if it’s the digital version of a physical object. After all, older generations associate online with anonymous. Remember that time when all you needed to create an account somewhere was an alias? Hell, you didn’t even need to verify your email!

But now, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain offer a way of tracking and proving ownership of digital assets. As a result, the notion of digital assets on the internet being free has been changed forever. Our relationship with digital possessions as a whole has been transformed. Our perception of value shifting entirely. Now, owning digital goods is actually similar to owning physical assets because they can be traced back with the help of new technology, they hold a certificate of authenticity which makes them unique.

However, this isn’t enough to convince sceptics, who believe that the NFT market is a bubble that is already dying down. Even those who have immersed themselves in the world of digital collectables are often unaware that NFTs and their uses go well beyond digital art and fashion. But what if we told you that there’s much more to NFTs than meets the eye?

First, though, let’s start with the basics. Let’s have a little recap.

So, What exactly is an NFT?

At this point, we’d be surprised if you didn’t at least know that NFT stands for non-fungible token, which is essentially a digital item that holds a specific type of value. NFTs represent something irreplaceable and one-of-a-kind, a unique address on the blockchain guaranteeing the authenticity of said asset. Essentially, it refers to proof of ownership.

Most people know of NFTs due to how they have revolutionized the world of digital collectables and digital artwork, as it enables art to be sold and traded in a whole new way. Artists now have the opportunity to turn their art into something that has a digital value with NFTs, and the tracking allows for royalties to be paid every time a piece is sold. On the one hand, this has kind of translated into a huge influx of wannabe artists trying to make a small fortune off of 32-bit graphics and retire at the age of 12.

On the other, however, we have the incredibly positive potential of preventing the emergence of a new-age suffering artist, as digital artists would be able to benefit from the value of their art throughout time. No more modern age Van Goghs living in misery while others make millions moving their work around or using them as money-laundering systems.

Source: The Cut

Moreover, with the possibility of proving originality, NFTs enable people to obtain a part of the authentic artwork, just like owning a printed art piece. They can either have the art to display, keep it as an investment or do both. The blockchain acts as a certificate of ownership and authenticity which makes all this possible.

The only difference between the traditional way of investment and an NFT is that NFTs exist solely in the digital realm. However, in this fast-paced world that is becoming increasingly digitally oriented, owning digital items over physical assets is a must. Not only because of the inevitable tendency towards digitalisation and digital life but because of the inherent flexibility of digital assets.

Now that we’re all on the same page with regards to common NFT knowledge, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.

The uses of NFTs go beyond digital artwork

Contrary to popular belief, NFTs are not only relevant to the digital art and fashion world. Let’s remember that really, an NFT is merely a digital asset that holds the potential to be proven authentic by blockchain. From there onwards, the possibilities are endless. There are many types of NFTs. We need to think beyond 2D and 3D images, beyond digital objects. We need to think about the true functionalities of a digital economy. Virtual reality will be our new reality.

Identity verification could change drastically with NFTs

Let’s have a thought experiment…

As NFTs made it possible to prove the authenticity of digital goods, personal identifiers can also be subject to NFTs in the future. Imagine having your driving license as an NFT. As long as you have your digital wallet, you will not need to carry an additional document. The authenticity of the assets can be proven with blockchain technology, so one can be sure that the identifier is authentic.

Imagine what this would entail for things like voting. It would allow marginalised members of society who do not have any documentation to vote, as their identity could be verified. You could also have your academic credentials recorded onto the NFT ledger. Falsifying these sorts of records would become a lot harder, if not impossible, with NFTs.

NFTs can be the solution to an optimized real estate industry

How many times have you seen a movie where the ledger of a property was lost, and ownership was chaos? Sure, maybe you’re not into treasure hunting films, but it’s a thing. Registering properties as NFTs could be the solution to keeping track of ownership and value as well as any alterations to the foundations or structure of the house.

On top of that, transactions in the process can be secured by making use of smart contracts. Not only simplifying but also speeding up an often tedious operation.

Additionally, all information on the house could be accessed from wherever you are. You would avoid buying a property and then being hit in the face with undercover, underlying structural issues. The transparency in the growth or decrease of the property’s value would be highly useful when it came to making, economically speaking, wise decisions.

We can use NFTs to build more secure supply chains

Consumers are increasingly worried about knowing where their purchases come from. With a growing consideration for environmentally and ethically conscious practices in a globalized world with overly questionable supply chains, attaching NFTs to physical products could be a game-changer.

It would hold companies accountable for their business practices too, as once something is registered on the blockchain it cannot be tampered with. From clothes to food, to technology, being able to track exactly where an item comes from would allow the consumer to make more informed choices while forcing companies to be transparent in their production processes.

Could NFTs have a key role to play in medical attention?

Imagine being able to securely have your validated medical records centralized somewhere without your identity being compromised? NFT ledgers could be a safe and secure way to store sensitive medical data accurately.

Starting with your birth certificate, all medical situations could be registered on the NFT ledger, accessible only to authorized healthcare providers and unable to be tampered with. Regardless of where you were, you would be able to access your medical history via a secure link, which could be life-saving. Moreover, this would allow for information to be gathered also, without compromising patient confidentiality, which could be of great use for science and the understanding of illnesses and afflictions.

All in all, NFTs hold immense potential to be expanded in the future beyond what we may currently picture when we think of NFTs.

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