Ro shared an insider’s view of where we are with Non-Fungible Tokens and where we’re going at this year’s TNW Conference. She presented some good business opportunities, but her solutions to the pain points were less compelling.
From NFT art to digital transfusions
“Any social or physical thing can now have a unique identifier and proof of ownership that is verifiable on the blockchain,” Ro said. It’s not a bad concept. In many countries, getting out of an annual contract is a pain. In Germany, for example, contracts signed before January 2022 require three months’ notice or proof of departure – so if this simplifies such processes, I am all for it. However, NFTs can go far beyond transactional memberships to act as a catalyst for added value.
NFTs are used to bring sports fans closer to the action
Ro imagined a world of fan engagement enabled by NFTs, with special deals like insider VIP access and the ability for marketers to create “more stickiness inside their community.” Ro claims there is a lot of money to be made in sports and NFTs. I’m inclined to concur.
However, I believe that NFTs will be far more difficult to implement in stadium sports, whereas Ro admits that “there are many intermediaries, and they are still working it out.” Smart sports stadiums already have sophisticated fan apps that span multiple industries, from food and beverage to transportation tickets, as well as fan access to sports commentary and communication with players via wearable technology.
Could NFTs become commonplace?
Ro sees a future for mission-driven DAOs, citing Ukraine as an example. The Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation launched the Meta History NFT Museum, a blockchain-based chronicle of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that showcases NFTs as digital art. A number of people are also using NFTs to raise funds for Ukraine. While most people have good intentions, I believe most lack the digital auditing skills to definitively distinguish credible accounts from frauds. Aside from fraud, there are the security issues that have plagued cryptocurrencies, as well as their clearly high carbon footprint to consider.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty to worry about On the plus side, Ro shared that the Bitcoin network has never been successfully hacked. However, she concedes that the energy used in providing that security is high. “What are you willing to live with?” she asked — secure cryptocurrency, or a low carbon footprint.
She also concedes that bad actors are inevitable. Further, there’s a challenge in putting up guard rails without killing innovation. More regulations can limit NFT ownership to accredited investors, who she admits are “a very particular socio class who don’t most need to build wealth.”
I see promise in NFTs for particular use cases. But I’m less convinced that we’ll see anything like mass adoption or mainstreaming their wealth generation.