money·5 min read

Future-Proofed: WTF are NFTs, Crypto Regulations, and HODL

NFT
Jul 18, 2022

The way we bank, spend, and invest is changing. And women have a unique opportunity to get ahead of the game when it comes to what’s next for money. Whether it’s a world of cryptocurrency, decentralized finance, Web3…or something else entirely. Welcome to Future-Proofed: Your monthly resource to learn all about the future of money, from the basics and lingo to the wild news and hot coins.

WTF are NFTs?

The Story

Non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs) are digital assets that are bought and sold online and recorded on the blockchain. They can be almost anything: art, music, or even Burberry.

How can you own a digital asset?

Blockchain technology makes it possible. For example: When an NFT — like a World of Women NFT — is bought or sold by someone (hi, Reese Witherspoon), the buyer gets a digital certificate of ownership in the form of a unique entry on the blockchain. Which is a big deal to NFT enthusiasts. Because anyone can download an image. But only one person can actually own the original. Note: The artist or creator may still keep the copyright for the work.

And what makes an NFT worth anything?

No two NFTs have the same value.Each is unique with unique traits.And the more unique traits an NFT has, the rarer it is. And arguably, the rarer it is, the more valuable it becomes. Take World of Women for example. Only 17 of 10,000 NFTs show women wearing a pair of earrings. Making them harder to get than a piece from Gucci and Balenciaga’s Hacker Project collection. 

But not all NFTs are valuable.

Right. In 2021, the NFT market was hotter than Phoenix in July. But last year’s exponential growth led to lots of new NFT collections being created in 2022, which has changed the market. According to a report from the NFT data company Nonfungible.com, there are fewer buyers chasing too many projects. Less than half of last year’s traders are still active.And even though each NFT is unique, it isn’t intrinsically valuable. NFTs need a market (aka collectors) to make them worth something. So projects without a community of potential buyers could be dead on arrival. 

So, what can you do with NFTs?

You can collect them. Like art or bottles of fine wine. And you can show them off on Twitter (hey, Justin Bieber and Madonna). Plus, owning a popular NFT is like being part of an exclusive club. Think: Being invited to sit with the Plastics at lunch. Hint: Some NFT collections hype exclusivity like Bored Ape Yacht Club. While others, like World of Women, foster inclusivity. 

Aren’t NFTs on the way out?

The NFT market may be cooling off, but it isn’t going away anytime soon. Thanks in part to the metaverse and the major brands that are getting in on virtual reality early. Gucci has already entered the metaverse. Nike has dropped virtual sneakers. Even Walmart is reportedly betting on NFTs becoming ‘a thing’ in the metaverse. Long story short: Virtual reality could change how collectors interact with NFTs.And carrying a virtual Birkin bag may be as fashionable as walking down Fifth Avenue with a real one.

theSkimm

NFTs are a new way of thinking about digital assets and their value. The market may be contracting after the initial hype. But collectors are betting on NFTs playing an important role in the metaverse

And Also…This

What do NFTs and my Rollercoaster Tycoon theme parks have in common… 

They’re both “mini retail empires.”

Asking for a Friend

Design: theSkimm | Photo: Moe Vela

Q: Is crypto regulation antithetical to the origins of cryptocurrency?

Moe Vela: Early crypto adoption was a form of revolution. And it was a revolution that had a very loud and clear message: ‘The system isn't working for us. We feel left out. We're disenfranchised. We feel helpless and voiceless. We don't have access to the same wealth creation that others do, so we're gonna create our own system.’ And the power of crypto is in that community. It's in that network. But with that came the volatility that you're seeing in the turbulence today. Regulators have to engage in a balancing act, creating protection for investors who are not yet up to speed or who are fearful or unaware of crypto and how it works. But also empowering and encouraging people to get in once they learn about it and what it means. They need to create a regulatory environment that is welcoming.

Moe Vela is an attorney and former White House Senior adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden. He serves on the board of TransparentBusiness. His answer has been edited for length and clarity. You can read the full interview here.

Thing to Know

HODL

Aka hold on for dear life. Which is crypto speak for a long-term strategy that favors holding on to coins even as prices fluctuate (hi, Bitcoin volatility). Some crypto fans use social media (think: Twitter) to signal their plans to HODL when prices drop. Because ‘we’re all in this together.’ Cue High School Musical.

Hot Off the Web

Pop Quiz

Last year, Christie’s became the first major auction house to sell an NFT. What was for sale?

  1. “Everdays: The First 5000 Days” 

  2. “Bored Ape Yacht Club #8817”

  3. “Disaster Girl”

  4. “CryptoPunk #5822”

Pop Quiz Answer: 

A: Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days.” Which sold for over $69 million, making Mike Winkelmann one of the three highest-paid living artists in the world.

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