A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital asset that is verifiable on blockchain technology. Assets include artwork, music, or in-game assets such as unique avatars. Because they are unique, NFTs are becoming sought after as collectibles.
What Is an NFT?
NFT stands for 'non-fungible token'. When something is fungible, like a dollar bill, it is equivalent to, and can thus be exchanged for, any other dollar bill. In contrast, a non-fungible token is a unique asset in digital form that cannot be exchanged for any other NFT. This means that every NFT is a 'one-of-a-kind' item. NFTs are transferred from one owner to another using blockchain technology, which creates a digital trail from seller to buyer that verifies the transaction. This encodes the unique ownership rights to the buyer (new owner).
The physical world counterpart would be a unique collectible asset such as a piece of art, for which you might have a certificate of ownership attesting to its authenticity. The NFT with its blockchain technology replaces the need for certificates of ownership. There are even some NFTs that use blockchain technology to create a digital ownership certificate for a unique physical asset, though this is currently not common.
NFTs became a popular investment in 2021, even though they’ve been around since 2014. As cryptocurrency investing exploded, so did the idea of taking certain digital assets and selling them to investors to buy online.
How Do NFTs Work?
NFTs are marketed and distributed through online marketplaces such as Rarity.tools or NFTcatcher.io. Investors can look through an inventory of assets before choosing one to buy. One must have cryptocurrency to buy the digital asset and create an account on the NFT marketplace that is connected to the cryptocurrency wallet holding the coins.
The most common blockchain NFTs use Ethereum ERC-20 tokens. The ERC-20 token is what the blockchain uses to issue a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain. Tokens can also be purchased with Polygon, Solana, and Polkadot cryptocurrency.
NFTs have opened up a new door for artists, companies, and celebrities to monetize their assets. Artists are able to create a library of digital assets to market to a new wave of investors and collectors. Celebrities are creating assets that capitalized on their celebrity brand identity. Some NFTs are selling for thousands, even millions of dollars.
How Are NFTs Different from Cryptocurrency?
NFTs are not the same as cryptocurrency. An NFT uses cryptocurrency to conduct the transaction. It uses the same blockchain technology that cryptocurrency uses but the asset is set up differently. Whereas a cryptocurrency coin can be traded or exchanged at equivalency, the NFT cannot. This is because each cryptographic asset is set up with a unique identification code and metadata that distinguishes one NFT from another. In other words, you can trade one Bitcoin for another Bitcoin–they are equal–but NFTs don’t trade equally.
The cost of NFTs varies all across the board. Collectors are paying millions of dollars in some cases to get the digital asset. Take a look at some of these NFT examples that have sold on the market.
Note: NFTs prices have gone up from an average of $24.98 at the beginning of 2021 to $913.48 in November 2021. The average NFT price dropped down to $346.85 by January 2021. Near a peak of popularity in 2021, NFT has aggregate 30-day value of nearly $64 million. By March 15, 2022, the aggregate sales over 30 days totaled $832 thousand.
1. Everydays: The First 5000 Days
This NFT is a collage created by Mike “Beeple” Winklemann. It takes images dating back to 2007. This image was sold at the auction house, Christie’s on March 11, 2021, and is credited with starting the NFT craze. The selling price was the highest ever recorded: $63.9 million.
2. Human One
Human One is another art asset created by Mike “Beeple” Winklemann. It’s actually a hybrid of a physical asset with a digital token. He refers to it as a kinetic video sculpture where he has four screens placed on polished aluminum metal set in a mahogany wood frame. This NFT sold for $28.9 million in November 2021.
3. Lindsay Lohan’s Fursona
In October 2021, a Lindsay Lohan NFT sold for $4,408 in an auction. This NFT is part of the Friends of the Cartel line of NFTs offered by the Canine Cartel. The NFT was a digitized mock-up of a Lindsay Lohan mutt-look-alike.
4. Snoop Dogg’s “Da Dogg Gone Gym”
Snoop Dogg partnered with the Harlem Globetrotters to release an NFT sitcom that he starred in with the team. The NFT was released in October. It was just one of many NFTs Snoop Dogg has been involved with. He’s been an active collector and creator since March of 2021 with more than $19 million in assets he’s bought.
5. Applebee’s Metaverse Mondays
Applebee’s started a new promotional trend in December 2021. The company worked with artists to create tokens that represented the restaurant’s hamburger, boneless wings, and Bourbon Street Steak. Those who purchased the NFT not only got the digital artwork but also received a year’s supply of the menu item. The Bourbon Street Steak NFT sold for $1,337.
6. Under Armour Stephen Curry Sneaker
To commemorate Stephen Curry’s record-breaking three-point shot, Under Armour created a digital replica of the shoe he wore during the feat. This digital asset allows buyers to outfit their avatars across various digital platforms such as Gala Games and The Sandbox with the shoe. The NFT sold out in 30 minutes with a price of $333 each.
7. Ozzy Osbourne's CryptoBatz
In January of 2022, heavy metal singer and media sensation, Ozzy Osbourne, announced his 'Cryptobatz' collection of 9,666 bat NFTs. Each Cryptobat gives the collector the ability to create an NFT that allows the purchase to "bite" and mutate with another NFT from their digital wallet.
Investing In NFTs
Buying NFTs requires due diligence on the part of the investor or collector. You need to first find NFTs that you feel are going to grow in value and that you have an interest in collecting. You can research NFTs by perusing the various marketplaces where they hold sales and auctions. You can also join NFT Discord and Telegram chats so that you can learn what others are saying about existing NFTs and new releases.
You cannot buy an NFT without a cryptocurrency account. This means that you first need to purchase the cryptocurrency needed for the transaction through a brokerage company such as Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) or Robinhood (NASDAQ: HOOD) and then link the cryptocurrency wallet that stores your cryptocurrency to the NFT marketplace on which you decide to make the purchase.
Tip: Pay attention to release dates as you want to make sure that you are able to purchase the NFT. Some new releases with a lot of buzz may sell out very quickly.
NFTs are a growing trend in digital trading and art collecting. Make sure you have the right cryptocurrency to buy the NFT you want. Once you own the NFT, you save it and use it in digital formats or you can trade it for a profit to another trader seeking the unique asset.
Warning: Like an investment, you should research the history of the NFT and what the market is saying about its popularity and upside potential. Investing in NFTs does come with financial risk.
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