NFT, hero of the virtual economy

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NFT, hero of the virtual economy

Lee Hyang-eun
The author is the managing director of LG Electronics Customer Value Innovation Division.

 A chocolate sweet made as the one-and-only treat for the Valentine’s Day could be priceless regardless of the imperfection in the taste or form. Its worth cannot be measurable as it has been made just for one person.

But technological advances have tokenized such irreplaceability and authentication. Younger capitalists and program developers have applied the ardor of making chocolate sweets to impress a sweetheart with the blockchain technology to create a virtual economy fueling digital assets and collections. Those who do not hesitate to invest in their unpredictable future value are enchanted with the thought of creating or minting objects of exquisiteness or scarcity for exclusive ownership. The exclusivity raises the value of the asset for auctioning if its worth is in high demand.

May 22, 2021 marked the Bitcoin Pizza Day commemorating the purchase in 2010 of two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, or the first case of digital token spending in real life. Crypto fans celebrate the day by donating pizzas to hungry children around the world.

Rare Pizza’s decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) launched a project where hundreds of artists and developers joined to create 10,000 unique generative art pizzas or graphics of pizzas that can be algorithmically “baked” through the addition of ingredients and toppings as well as boxes and drinks that can be sold through pizza non-fungible tokens (NFT). The project earned $1.3 million through the sale of the rare pizza collection and the host used the proceeds to hand out pizzas around the world. The collaboration suggests how the token economy can wonderfully merge into the real world. 
The decentralization concept based on the blockchain economy has generated a novel culture. A DAO like the Rare Pizza project pursues an open and equal organization without a unified leadership but with a shared common goal regardless of the age, gender or race. Each individual contributes their thoughts and talents in their own unique way. They are brought together on shared love and vision instead of ideology or self-serving interest, enlightenment or publicity purpose. PizzaDAO was launched with the shared vision to hold the world’s biggest pizza party for starving people. They do not seek returns and leadership. Empathy is what can make the massive project possible.

NFTs should not be regarded as only for young people familiar with IT and the metaverse. Companies keeping abreast of times have already employed talents to dig up various applications and for-profit business models for NFTs. Even those skeptical of the metaverse economy would find NFT in a different light upon the 370-times quantum jump in the NFT industry and the value from the sector. NFTs have come to speak beyond ownership and experience to define the exclusivity of a certain group to destruct existing business models. For one, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), which started out with a limited 50 NFT collection of apes, has attracted celebrities and influencers around the world and have become priceless.

Online communities are conditioning NFT purchases for their membership and requiring authentication of one’s identity by minting online profiles. Collectors are going after SNS memes and video clips to add to their NFT collections and digital egos. The NFT concept is being monetized and industrialized by leveraging on shared interests, participation, excitement, fun and empathy. The explosiveness and applicability cannot be pinned down since unpredictable teenagers are the primary drivers.

There could be a huge gap between haves and have-nots of the digital trade experience. We may be living on the same planet, but may not share the same space amid the fast evolution of the digital and blockchain economy. 
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
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