Innovative technologies are reshaping business enterprises and paving new pathways across many sectors. For instance, did you know that blockchain technology was first conceptualized in the early 1990s by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta? At the time it was described as a way to timestamp a document.
After 18 years, Bitcoin — the first cryptocurrency was launched by the fabled Satoshi Nakamoto. A cryptocurrency that was based on the concept originally penned by Haber and Stornetta. Now, in 2021, the digital assets domain has expanded further to include digital artwork called NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens. And with the growing number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, federal governments are trying to introduce laws with the intent of safeguarding crypto investors.
Crypto Art: The basics of NFTs
NFT is an acronym for “Non-Fungible Tokens”. Any unit of a fungible commodity can be replaced by another unit of the same commodity, without changing its valuation. For instance, one kilo of 24 karat gold is – at least in theory – replaceable with any other kilo of 24 karat gold.
In contrast, when something is said to be non-fungible, it means that the commodity is unique in nature, and cannot be replaced with any other item out there.
Conceptually, NFTs are very similar to cryptocurrencies. They are a store of digital value and provide the holder with proof of ownership. These digital assets might represent antiques & artworks, collectables like trading cards, and other items, each with unique and distinct features. These tokens are stored cryptographically on the blockchain network for authentication and validation. Even when transacting, each token is sold as a whole, unlike cryptocurrencies which are divisible into smaller units.
NFTs lose their value when split into smaller portions, however, they can be duplicated by the artist and each additional copy can be sold separately. However, in this case, the total number of duplicates will always be known.
Billionaire entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey as well as established companies with a global presence like Facebook have been vocal about crypto adoption. Even well-known media outlets are testing the waters, with the latest being TIME magazine.
TIME NFT Auction
On 22 March 2021, the American news magazine — TIME, announced that it will auction three of its fabled special editions covers in the NFT format. The first cover “Is God Dead?” was published back in April 1966. The second cover “Is Truth Dead?” was published in 2017 during the Trump Administration. And the third is a newly designed cover saying “Is Fiat Dead?” The “Is Fiat Dead?” cover was made exclusively for the auction. All three NFTs can each be bought individually or as a bundled package.
All the three digital collectables are up for auction on the NFT market place — SuperRare. SuperRare operates on the Ethereum blockchain network. All transactions on the portal can be made through Ether. The auction is set to end on 24 March 2021 at 8 PM ET.
With over 5 hours remaining for the auction to close, the highest bid for the bundled package is ETH 10 (approximately USD 16,500). As far as the individual NFTs are concerned, the highest bid for “Is Fiat Dead?” is ETH 34.1 (roughly USD 56,300) and “Is Truth Dead?” received the highest bid of ETH 11 (just above USD 18,100). Whereas the highest bid for the 1966 cover “Is God Dead?” was ETH 12.12 (around USD 20,000).
NFT Auction and Media companies
The Verge took potshots at TIMEs’ NFT auction, hinting at the exclusively designed cover as a “cash grab” and a “marketing stunt”. The publication also said that it is an attempt by the magazine to draw some attention all the while making money from it.
In recent times, many other press and media outlets decided to auction NFTs. In the first week of March 2021, a press release announced an NFT auction by the Associated Press. The NFT was a collaborated effort that also included digital artist Marko Stanojevic and the decentralized knowledgebase and DeFi platform — Everipedia. The NFT titled “The Associated Press calls the 2020 Presidential Election on Blockchain – A View from Outer Space,” was sold for ETH 100 which was approximately $180,000 at the time, according to CoinDesk.
The business news media — The Quartz followed through with an NFT auction earlier this week. It received 1 ETH or roughly USD 1,800 for its first-ever news article being sold as an NFT. These proceeds were offered as a contribution to the Lauren Brown Fellowship.
With the growing hype around crypto art, the emergence of NFT marketplaces is on the rise. These portals connect artists with collectors and enthusiasts, all the while promoting the use of cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. With the involvement of news agencies and media outlets, NFTs are bound to gain more traction in the coming days.