NFTs are causing quite a stir in the crypto world. Whether it’s artwork like the most expensive NFT ever sold ‘The Merge’ (which cost $91.8 million dollars and is owned by 30,000 collectors) or classic memes like Success Kid and Disaster Girl, suddenly these virtual assets have an often sizeable price tag.
So what exactly are NFTs?
NFT stands for non-fungible token. “Non-fungible” essentially means that it is unique and cannot be replaced with something else. For example, a bitcoin – or any form of traditional currency – is fungible. You can replace one with another and you end up with something which is exactly the same. But if you had a piece of artwork or a one-of-a-kind trading card and you swapped it for another, you’d have something completely different.
Most NFTs sold so far are pieces of digital art, but any kind of digital asset like a drawing, piece of music or video for example can be an NFT. The majority of NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain. They have extra information that makes them work differently from an ETH coin. Other blockchains can implement their own versions of NFTs – indeed, some already have.
People who are interested in NFTs see them as an extension of art collecting. Though critics are quick to point out that the Bad Luck Brian meme (which sold for around $36,000) can easily be copy and pasted by anyone with an internet connection, enthusiasts compare this to owning a print of a classic artwork. The Mona Lisa is sold around the world, on postcards, t-shirts, in books and on posters, but there’s only one original Mona Lisa.
It’s important to remember that an NFT isn’t like a copyright or trademark – it has no legal bearing and affords the owner very few rights. There’s actually nothing to stop a person from creating NFTs from assets which have already been sold as NFTs, except from the fact that it would be assumed worthless because someone else got there first. It’s almost a flex that you own the real thing.
Because it’s speculative, and the value of NFTs really depends on what the market is willing to pay for them, some people are sceptical. But…
Could NFTs be the next big job perk?
We asked our LinkedIn followers if they’d be more likely to apply for a role if it listed an NFT as an employee benefit. Of almost 200 votes, 42 per cent said yes, they would be more likely to apply. In the current job market, where Software Engineers are likely to be fielding three or four offers at any one time anything that makes an employer stand out is worth exploring further.
It’s something that some organisations have already done. When Bitwala relaunched as Nuri, all employees were given an NFT to commemorate the event. Granted, these are intended as more of a memento than an investment, but who knows what they might be worth in the future? It could be likened to a start-up offering stock options: these will only be valuable if the company succeeds.
Yes, NFTs have an arbitrary value – but so does almost every other asset which humans have been known to collect. NFTs are only worth what someone else will pay for them, but that is not unique to NFTs.
However, there are some benefits to NFTs which could be valuable to employees. If smart contracts are attached, an employee could automatically receive a bonus or commission when hitting a certain KPI. This could be a whole new way to measure and reward employee productivity.
At the moment, what’s important is that employees may well ascribe a value to NFTs. This may not equal a high price tag, but if it gets their attention it could be worth your consideration – especially in the current jobs market.
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