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Non-Fungible Tokens are unique, easily verifiable digital assets that can represent items such as GIFs, images, videos, music albums, and more. Anything that exists online can be purchased as an NFT, theoretically.
An NFT is “a type of cryptographic token,” Emerging Tech Brew writer Ryan Duffy explains, but NFTs are different from cryptocurrencies because they’re not interchangeable. Think of Pokémon cards: You can trade them, but a Gastly is not the same as a holographic Charizard. But a bitcoin is indistinguishable from another bitcoin.
One reason to buy an NFT is for its emotional value, which isn’t so different from physical objects…unless you’re a total utilitarian. No one buys lip gloss because they need it. They buy it for the way it makes them feel. The same can be true for a GIF, image, video, or other digital asset.
The other reason is because you think it’s valuable…and will only increase in value. And yes, you can make money off of an NFT by buying and reselling it for more.
The process varies based on what platform you use. And there are a lot of platforms.
On Top Shot for instance, you register to join a waitlist that can be thousands of NBA fans long. When a digital asset goes on sale, you’re randomly chosen to buy it. While Top Shot accepts USD as well as crypto, some platforms only accept cryptocurrencies, like OpenSea.
NFT ownership is recorded on the blockchain, and that entry acts as a digital pink slip. Defining the blockchain is a whole ‘nother can of worms that you can read about here.
They’re newly popular, but not new. Andrew Steinwold traces their origins all the way back to blockchain-backed Colored Coins in 2012, but they didn’t move into the mainstream until CryptoKitties had everyone buying virtual cats in 2017.
Recently, as Google search trends indicate, interest in NFTs has exploded. The creators of CryptoKitties started Top Shot, a platform that allows fans to buy, sell, and trade NBA highlights, and digital artwork is now being auctioned by Christie’s.
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