Technology

The next generation of NFTs: more to use than to collect

However, “at the moment, NFTs are in a very rudimentary state,” explains Sandy Hound, founder of startup Credenza. Outside of the art world, “they have little function, no utility.” (Photo: 123RF)

New York. Companies, institutions, artists or even sports clubs, more and more of them present the NFT as a utilitarian object, a passport or passkey, far beyond the exclusive use of a collection, sometimes something like a gadget popularized for a little over a year.

Drawings of monkeys (“Bored Monkeys”), a line from the first ever tweet, or an animation of Donald Trump naked in the grass are some of the NFTs that have each sold for millions of dollars since early 2021. in front of a general public that is both fascinated and discreet.

“Non-Fungible Tokens” or “Non-Fungible Tokens”, unique and tamper-proof digital objects, have opened up a new collectible market that has seen tens of billions of dollars flown into it.

However, “at the moment, NFTs are in a very rudimentary state,” explains Sandy Hound, founder of startup Credenza. Outside of the art world, “they have little function, no utility.”

“Most of them are monkeys or something that are useless,” says Juan Otero, general manager of online travel site Travala, referring to the famous “boring monkeys.”

Starbucks, which will soon launch its own NFTs, sees them more as “a programmable asset that could also be a pass.”

Owning a non-fungible token in the colors of the coffee giant will unlock access to “unique benefits” as well as “community,” a new vision of a blockchain-backed loyalty program. This technology, on which cryptocurrencies and NFTs are based, allows the same module to be used for different applications.

On the institutional side, in July last year, the small republic of San Marino, located in the heart of Italy, launched a coronavirus vaccine passport that was NFT.

While the European COVID Digital Certificate was designed for the European Union, this passport was meant to be validated everywhere without requiring a dedicated mobile app.

“Guaranteed Madness”

Credenza, for its part, is in talks with sports teams and leagues to bring to life the vision of an NFT version of the Swiss army knife, adapted for new purposes.

NFTs and blockchain are “available in multiple universes, whether you want to go see an NBA game in the hall or a concert in the metaverse,” illustrates Sandy Hound, referring to this digital universe where you can lead a virtual existence, like in video games Roblox or Minecraft .

Jenn McMillen of marketing firm Incendio also cites indie rock band Kings of Leon as an example. As part of the NFT version of his When You See Yourself album, he released eight Golden Tickets, each of which guaranteed four front row seats on all of the band’s future tours.

“If you’re a brand,” says Jenn McMillen, “think of the most coveted ‘experiences’, the most exclusive access, or something that’s bound to go viral, and wrap it up with ‘all access’ NFTs. It will be madness guaranteed by rarity.”

Among the most successful examples is the travel booking platform Travala, which has over 300,000 monthly active users.

In January, the site, which already accepted cryptocurrency payments, launched the Travel Tiger loyalty program. In appearance, each of the thousand NFTs handed out to the platform’s existing customers is a digital drawing of a tiger, reminiscent of Bored Monkeys.

But that comes with a range of perks, from access to exclusive events, in the real world and metaverse, to discounts or loyalty points.

The goal of Travel Tigers is not to generate income, but to build loyalty. “It’s about keeping these users so that they continue to use the platform,” Juan Otero said.

Despite the attention it attracts, “it will probably be two or three years” before NFTs “reach the general public and traditional businesses,” the co-founder of Travala admits.

But “when the next wave comes,” he announces along with the metaverse and web3 (the new decentralized version of the Internet), “I think it will be unprecedented.”

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