Just before Christmas, the world’s first text message went under the hammer in France. The ‘Merry Christmas!’ message sent to the then CEO of Vodafone in 1992 has been sold as a non-fungible token (NFT). 2021 was the year when NFT finally broke through. The number of global searches on Google for the term NFT has surpassed the term crypto for the first time, according to Google Trends.
An NFT is a non-fungible document of authenticity that proves the ownership of digital objects. This document is recorded in the blockchain, the ledger that cryptocurrencies also use.
Trading of NFTs is increasing strongly. Currently the most popular decentralized platform for NFT auctions, OpenSea facilitated $3.4 billion in transactions in August alone. The platform for founders Devin Finzer (31) and Alex Atallah (29) is already cautiously considering an IPO.
In fact, the nascent market for non-fungible tokens has had its best year ever, generating more than $23 billion in trade, according to figures from DappRadar. For comparison: last year it was less than 100 million.
The amounts offered are also increasing. Earlier this year, for example, the first Wikipedia page went under the hammer for $750,000. NFTs have also been traded from emoticons, the first tweet of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and the source code of the world wide web.
NFT therefore opens up a whole new world for illustrators, photographers and artists who can sell their digital creations as physical paintings, photo drawings or sketches. Sotheby’s, the largest auction house in the world, has already made $100 million this year from the auction of NFTs. For example, in June a rare CryptoPunk, the Covid Alien, was auctioned off for $11.8 million.
In December, 100 digital artworks from three leading Mind The Gap artists – Aiiroh, Noble$$ and Sinao – were auctioned for the first time on Catawiki.
The fashion world is also interested. In November, Dutch Kanessa claimed to be the first clothing line in the world to launch NFT tokens of various art expressions from its sports and loungewear collection. Mutani, Belgium’s first digital fashion network, launched its first virtual fashion collection last year in collaboration with designer Stefan Kartchev.
Keune Haircosmetics recently launched NFT’s as the first Dutch hair brand. The non-fungible tokens are inspired by four iconic products from Keune’s history. The brand is now translating its hair icons into a future-proof version, as digital works of art.
Historic audio interviews with The Beatles have also been auctioned off as NFTs.
Meanwhile, the gaming industry has also thrown itself into the phenomenon. Players can purchase exclusive digital items with their own serial number. For each object, it can be shown who has owned it. Peter Molyneux, the creator of the Fable games, works on these kinds of games, among other things. A similar application is conceivable for virtual environments such as the much talked about metaverse envisioned by Facebook.
In November, the digital agency Dept already launched the first open-source, white-label solution to create a so-called NFT marketplace. The new marketplace AlgoMart makes it easy for brands to create and launch their own NFTs in days.
While the market for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a type of IPO with cryptocurrencies as stock, is all but dead due to strict regulation, NFTs appear to be here to stay.