What are NFTs, these digital works of art whose value is exploding?

What are NFTs, these digital works of art whose value is exploding?

What are NFTs, these digital works of art whose value is exploding?

Works sold for several million dollars by artists often unknown to the art market, music stars who share their albums in this new format, websites whose popularity is exploding internationally … digital in recent weeks is marked by NFTs. Three letters for Non Fungible Token which should quickly become essential.

What is an NFT?

NFTs work on the same principle as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, being based on a blockchain. They are therefore tamper-proof, indelible and non-reproducible, which gives them their value. Unlike cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, they are not interchangeable, each being unique (not fungible). This allows their buyers to actually own the rights to a digital work, whether it is an image, an animation or a video.

This work is also completely secure since it is registered on the blockchain. As a reminder, blockchain is a technology for storing and transmitting information, transparent, secure, and operating without a central control body.

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It should all the same be specified that if the NFT related to art constitute the most visible face of this technology, they can take various forms (virtual objects for video games, contracts, licenses …).

Do we really own it?

By being based on the blockchain, an NFT work becomes unique but can be copied at will. By analogy, if you become the owner of an NFT work other people can copy it but they will not actually own it. As if a collector bought an original Picasso, and the others got a copy. It should be noted that as for any work its author can decide to prevent its degradation or a use which would be diverted from it. Clearly, if buying the Mona Lisa does not give you the right to add a mustache, buying an NFT work does not (in theory) allow you to intervene on it.

The artist and author of the NFT work will generally put his creation up for sale and decide the number of tokens that will attest to its authenticity. For example, he can sell one or five or even a hundred tokens of his work, so as many versions of it available, but you should know that the less there is, the more the work is rare and therefore the more expensive it is. Like a collectible Pokémon card for example. The blockchain, which is ultimately an extremely secure and freely searchable open-air account ledger, makes it very easy to trace the author of the work and the holders of the token (s) offered for sale.

What forms do they take?

Non-fungible Tokens are intimately linked to art, in all its forms. This is probably why they help popularize the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, a digital world that is still very obscure to the general public.

NFTs are digital in essence, but they are also protean. We therefore find images, GIFs, videos, music, drawings, collectable cards … Everything is allowed for artists as long as their work is in digital format. The NBA, for example, produced collectible cards of its players, sold in virtual pockets, some of which were bought for nearly $ 1,000.

When was the phenomenon born?

We have to go back to 2017 to find the first traces of the success of NFTs. In November of that year, holders of the Ethereum cryptocurrency widely voted for the CryptoKitties. Virtual chats that nearly 180,000 Internet users with Ethereum have acquired by investing the equivalent of $ 20 million to become owners. At that time already, an Internet user had spent more than 170,000 dollars to acquire one of these virtual cats. An insane amount that quickly attracted the attention of the media across the Atlantic since the NFTs were until then almost unknown.

Why such crazy sums invested?

In 2020, the NFT market is no longer making the marketplaces laugh any more, since an assessment carried out by Atelier BNP Paribas and the Nonfungible site estimated that NFTs had brewed around 207 million euros over one year. A colossal sum which should be greatly exceeded in 2021.

Already, several record sales have taken place in recent days. Singer Grimes, Elon Musk’s partner, sold nearly $ 6 million worth of NFT works in under 20 minutes in late February. The Kings of Leon music group are offering their new album via an NFT platform. While the famous internet cat, Nian Cat, sold for almost 460,000 euros on February 21. Until March 11, the famous auction house Christie’s is offering to position itself to acquire an NFT work by the artist Beeple. A first in this environment, which is very popular with major art collectors.

It should be noted that many are already betting on the rise of NFTs as a new vector for digital art. Like classic works of art, the idea is for investors, art enthusiasts without forgetting speculators to be able to profit from it in the future. In addition, the context of the Covid having particularly focused on risky investments around cryptocurrencies (still booming), some investors are turning to NFTs to place themselves very early on this market and hope for a future jump in prices to obtain a comfortable return on investment. Also beware of the volatility of this system, which could also experience a fall to return to more reasonable amounts.

How to buy

For the back two who still read me, this is where things get real. If the figures of certain sales are enough to make you dizzy, you should know that NFT works are sold at reasonable prices, equivalent to a few tens of euros.

But be careful, here we do not pay with a classic fiat currency such as the euro or the dollar. Everything goes through cryptocurrencies and platforms dedicated to their purchase. For now, the two most used cryptocurrencies to acquire it are Ethereum and World Assets eXchange (WAX).

If you own cryptocurrency, then it’s time to go to an app dedicated to selling NFT. The MetaMask platform is the best known and offers a secure service to identify, view and buy NFTs via the blockchain. MetaMask is an Ethereum compatible wallet (digital wallet), which therefore allows you to carry out purchase and sale operations directly. But once an NFT is purchased, it is held by you on the blockchain and MetaMask cannot access it, like a cryptocurrency.

The value of an NFT will then follow a course, like stocks, which will vary according to supply and demand. If demand is high and supply is scarce, prices can explode. Like MetaMask, the CryptoSlam platform is also offered but it relies on the WAX ​​cryptocurrency. Finally, it is also possible to join OpenSea, another service well known to insiders.

How to sell

Are you an artist and have flair? Perhaps it is by going through the NFTs that you could quickly rise to fame. First, you will also need a MetaMask or CryptoSlam account / wallet. You can then go to another platform called Mintbase, which is run as an Artist Factory. By attaching your MetaMask or CryptoSlam wallet, it is then possible to open the equivalent of an online art gallery. You can then export your digital work to it and obtain the equivalent of a unique and secure identification number on the blockchain for each work. The works will also be certified, as when an auctioneer authenticates a piece before it is put up for auction.

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