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Monkeys, dogs, cats, punks… pixelated art with questionable copyrights, all being bid to the stratosphere by a seemingly endless stream of crypto enthusiasts in an “investment” premise of a bigger fool theory. And now it crashed.
The good news is that none of those things are “Web3”.
But the die was cast, and now many people view NFTs as just a mechanism to symbolize and sell their digital intellectual property, with no regard for real value or usefulness. Many people have been completely derailed by the “get-rich-quick” ethos of the v1.0 version of NFTs, missing the core of the opportunity and value that Web3 offers.
Before we know how to use it to boost connectivity, increase revenue, or reduce fraud, we need to understand the technology we’re talking about.
The “web” is simply shorthand for the interconnected society and economy:
- Web1 was information availability.
- Web2 was the advent of social networking, blogging platforms, video tools and other forms of writing, creating and engagement.
- Web3 uses blockchain technology to enable instant ownership, portability, accessibility, and provenance of everything electronic.
Related: If you have no idea what Web3 is, you’re not alone. Here’s an analysis of the future of the Internet.
One of the biggest by-products of Web3 technology is the ability to tokenize digital assets, often referred to as “non-fungible tokens” or NFTs. Fungible and non-fungible tokens are going to completely transform the world. Businesses, content creators and individuals will do incredible things with it. But it’s still early days and many infrastructure issues need to be resolved before it can take off.
While there are some modest financial success stories, the early movers in music, sports, influencers, corporate brands, etc. suffer from poor selections of infrastructure vendors and lack of engaging content or targeted utility.
- NFTs are for so much more than making some digital art (or trading card, or music track, or whatever) and selling it to a minimal audience.
- NFTs are for direct audience engagement and relationships.
- NFTs are for the portability of ownership and provenance of the thing(s) the NFT represents.
- …and so much more.
Related: NFTs will soon be inevitable. That’s a good thing.
What Web3 can do
While early in the game (I would suggest only the very first pitch was thrown in the first inning), and while many critical infrastructures have not yet been deployed to enable widespread adoption, we’re seeing some cool use cases popping up that point us to what the technology can do. Among which:
Sports — Signature has nailed the value prop with Tom Brady’s NFTs. These aren’t just some trading cards or short video clips. No, these are “Season Cards” that provide ongoing updates, offers, event invites, and special access to the token-gated website The Huddle.
Automotive — Delorean is getting ready to make cars again and is now taking down payments. People get NFTs that represent their rights to a car, specifically where they are in the delivery queue (the number of the NFT is their place on the assembly line). They will continuously add production updates, brochures, invitations to special events and other things (data) to the NFTs that the prospective owners have (note that this is not in the form of new NFTs being sent to owners, but instead just added new data to the vault that unlocks the existing NFT).
In addition, given the transferability of the NFTs, a holder who wants to sell their rights and place in the queue to someone else can go to a secondary marketplace such as eBay or Autotrader and do so easily. It feels appropriate that the “Back to the Future” icon should lead the charges against Web3.
Related: The DeLorean ‘Back To The Future Car’ Looks Pretty — Futuristic
Medical equipment — Globus medical, a multi-billion dollar biomechanical manufacturer, makes an NFT for every cervical cage, every disc and every spinal screw that a surgeon places in a body. This solves the problem they have with people setting up garage-shop lathes, identifying the provenance of their devices and components, thwarting counterfeiting and limiting patient liability.
Music – Royal.io doesn’t just sell song tracks and albums. They allow fans to participate in the upside of their favorite artists by taking (partial) ownership of those songs and albums and receiving a share of the royalty streams. NFT owners also get “giveaways, surprises, and priority access to tickets, merchandise, and events.”
Everything that came before these use cases – all dogs, cats, monkeys and punks – has set the stage for the transformative impact Web3 will have on the interconnected world. We should appreciate those early formative iterations of the industry (ICOs and NFTs) even if we put them in the rearview mirror.
The job now is to educate businesses and content creators about the incredible things they can do with Web3… and for my team at Fortress to build the infrastructure that secures the data, enables new generations of utility and engagement, and makes it accessible to every person on the planet.