Welcome to the 'phigital' world, where the physical and the digital are combined
HALIFAX -- A lot of people seem to be talking about them these days, with some big names making big bucks for selling them.
While you can buy and own a non-fungible token (NFT), it’s not something you can hold in your hands, but it’s what some say is the next step in the evolution of our digital world.
"Digital art is becoming more of an asset and I would like to be able to take part in that particular new future," said artist Amruta Dnyanmote.
That new future doesn’t just mean putting their works online, it means turning their works into non-fungible tokens.
"And when we learned about NFTs, we realized that there are some interesting opportunities to look at over here or at least experiment with other here," said artist Ankur Dnyanmote.
What makes art a non-fungible token is an accompanying piece of code.
Think of it as a digital collectible that you could then buy in an online marketplace, using cryptocurrency.
The NFT is both proof of creation and proof of ownership.
"We’re going into what I call the phigital world," said digital anthropologist Giles Crouch. "So, we are bringing our physical and digital worlds together and accessing them through our smartphones and computers."
Mrugakshee Palwe and Keegan Francis are cryptocurrency specialists and co-founders of the Atlantic Blockchain Company.
They recently purchases an NFT single called Diamond Joint that also came with digital artwork.
The price? $500.
"There was 20,000 of this edition, and we own edition 397, and only 900 were sold," Francis said.
They say there’s a reason musicians and artists are gravitating towards NFTs.
"It takes out the third party or the middle person and a lot of artists are benefiting from getting paid directly for their artwork by selling it online," Palwe said.
Some are making money -- names you might already know like Kings of Leon, and some you may not, like digital artist Beeple, who netted $69 million dollars us for a collection of his work.
"The speculation does tend to drive up the price of these NFTs, simply because it’s so easy to buy and sell them on these marketplaces," Francis said.
That speculation, and the current hype, brings a word of caution from financial technology experts
"Don't take every NFT that is offered to you as real," said Alicia Ismach, a financial technology expert with Venn Innovation of Moncton, N.B.
That means, if you’re buying, do your research. And if you’re selling, don’t expect to rake in millions.
"It will evolve, in a more organized way, to manage them to track them and to use them mostly," Ismach said.
Crouch predicts while the excitement over NFTs will eventually wane, their use, will only become more common.
"It’s here to stay," Crouch said.
Besides all the speculation around the future of NFTs, there have also been concerns raised about whether they are good for the planet because creating digital works takes power, and that emits carbon.
Another detail yet to be worked out as the world of NFTs evolves.