Indroduction about NFTs:
NFTs have played a key role in building mainstream consumer awareness of web3. NFTs of digital artworks such as Beeple’s Everydays — The First 5000 Days, collectibles such as Bored Ape Yacht Club avatars, and parcels of virtual land have sold for millions of dollars, both through traditional auction houses and on web3 marketplaces like OpenSea.
Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are held in wallets. Technically, an NFT is not the digital file itself, but a database entry on the blockchain that attributes ownership to a particular wallet.
The provable scarcity of individual NFTs means they can function as digital status symbols, helping to explain why they are sometimes compared to Rolex watches and Lamborghini sports cars. Various consumer brands, including Coca Cola, Nike, and McDonalds, have sought to capitalise on the craze by issuing (or dropping) their own NFT ranges, as have football clubs such as Manchester City and Glasgow Rangers.
Celebrity endorsements are a common means of promoting high-profile NFT projects. Some wealthy celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and John Terry appear to be enthusiastic collectors, while others including Paris Hilton and Floyd Mayweather seem to engage with them in a more straightforwardly transactional way.
However, not all NFT drops are extravagantly priced or associated with a well-known brand or celebrity (see, for example, The Pluto People or the case study on Les Éléfants Terribles). NFTs are said to offer digital artists a new way of selling their work directly to the public, without having to pay commission to agents or galleries, as well as the potential to earn ongoing royalties from future sales of their work in the secondary market. The same benefits are said to be available to musicians and creators of video content, whose products (respectively audio and video files) can also be represented by NFTs.
NFT marketplaces as DAOs:
Meanwhile, establishing NFT marketplaces as DAOs (see Blockchain article) has been proposed as a means of pre-empting the emergence of a new generation of dominant intermediaries – the web3 successors to Spotify, Youtube, TikTok et al. The idea is that creators would have the opportunity to co-own the platforms through which their work is traded, and to determine their decision-making via governance tokens.
As with cryptocurrencies, NFT prices can be volatile, while trade in NFTs is prone to fraud and market manipulation. When NFTs are initially issued (or minted), the underpinning smart contract may be designed to siphon cryptocurrencies and other tokens from buyers’ wallets.
Meanwhile, prices in the secondary market can be artificially inflated by wash-trading – that is, the trading of an NFT between wallets controlled by the same individual or group. The pseudonymity offered by the web3 facilitates both practices.