A new all-time high was reached for Bitcoin this week as it soared over $68,000. A 1.4% increase in the asset occurred just one hour after the latest inflation rate was announced. Consumer prices rose by a startling 6.2% over the past year, making it the highest CPI rate since 1990.
Economists are blaming high inflation on covid-related minutiae such as shipping issues, supply chain snags, and the recent fight for storage space. Whatever the reason, it is only fueling the fire of crypto adoption. Bitcoin doubled in value over the past year and the market cap for cryptocurrencies just recently boosted to $3 trillion—an iconic growth spurt set to continue if inflation continues on its current course.
Not every investor is hedging solely through Bitcoin; see the surging NFT market for proof. Michael Winkelmann, otherwise known as Beeple, just claimed another victory in the NFT sales space with his piece, Human One. Winkelmann is the artist behind the NFT Everydays: The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction earlier this year, shifting the perception of NFTs into that of a more serious art form. Just the other night, he appeared on Jimmy Fallon, where he explained NFT artistry to the masses.
What is an NFT?
– In a digital ledger, a non-fungible token is a unique unit of data that is not interchangeable. Digital items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files can be associated with NFTs as unique items, and blockchain technology is used to give NFTs their public ownership proof.
Human One is the first physical mixed-media NFT piece sold in the space, with a complex rotating box frame holding a digital NFT that lives on the Ethereum blockchain. The piece itself is multi-faceted and moving—both emotionally and literally. It depicts a human figure, draped in space-gear and seemingly pregnant with purpose, stepping through various landscapes derived from random imagery the artist found on Ethereum. When asked to describe the piece, Winkelmann called it, “the first portrait of a human born in the metaverse.”
The coolest part about this piece might be that Winkelmann has promised to change the metaverse landscape every couple of years, tethering himself to the artwork for the rest of his lifetime. Despite this, Human One didn’t hold the same value as Everydays, selling for a slightly less robust $29 million. As one reporter put it, “It’s not quite $69 million. But, hey, $29 million isn’t too shabby.”
NFTs are bringing change both to the world of art and to the crypto adoption space. According to Visa’s Head of Crypto, Cuy Sheffield, NFTs are bringing a new demographic into the crypto space. An NFT collector himself, Sheffield was the driving force behind Visa’s acquisition of Cryptopunk #7610 a few months back for close to 50 ETH. “Crypto is becoming cultural, it’s becoming cool,” mused Sheffield, adding that, “It used to be that if you were investing in crypto, you were kind of weird.” Way to rub it in, Sheffield.
All joking aside, NFTs, similarly to meme coins, are creating a crypto space that is more culturally driven than just financially driven, broadening the scope of adoption past the barriers of the usual fintech crowd. “The ability to track and leverage a digital asset in multiple environments could mean exciting new opportunities in ticketing, gaming, music, art, and beyond,” said Sheffield.
That prediction could serve more as an observation of the current crypto climate. A recent study emerging out of the United Kingdom shows that 58% of video game developers are already relying on the blockchain for their projects, with strong inclinations towards NFTs. Chris Trew, CEO of Stratis, one of the companies that helped discover these data findings, elaborated on the benefits of NFTs for gamers around the globe. “They enable players to own a stake in the games they play,” he said.
“For example, buying land within a metaverse game as an NFT or a car in a racing game. Historically, games have been pay-to-play, and the value accrued only to companies and platforms. Blockchain and NFTs turn this situation on its head.”
NFT’s in Gaming
Gaming reveals its growth in crypto as social media just begins to establish roots in the industry. Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian announced that he’s teaming up with Raj Gokal, Co-Founder of Solana, to develop a decentralized social media platform on the Solana blockchain.
Solana, known for its proof of history consensus protocol and rapid transaction speeds, will receive between $50 to $100 million in funding from Ohanian in an effort to bring metaverse social media to life. “Social media in the metaverse will be a collection of millions of self-sufficient communities, and there’s nobody better to help great teams build that future than Alexis Ohanian,” said Gokal at the Solana Breakpoint conference in Lisboa.
“With a high-performance blockchain like Solana, there is an unprecedented opportunity to fuse social and crypto in a way that feels like a web2 social product but with the added incentive of empowering users with real ownership,” added Ohanian. “We are at a pivotal inflection point in these early days of Web3 and I couldn’t be more energized to partner with Solana to support companies who are building for this exciting new era of social.”
Play-to-earn NFT games are already taking off with examples like Gods Unchained and Mega World allowing players to be rewarded by progressing in the game by owning and trading in-game digital assess using NFT’s. The list of games and functionality is predicted to expand even more in 2022 and beyond.
Between NFTs, gaming, and social media, there is a new wave of adoption on the horizon for crypto. Now, we stand at the precipice of a larger influx, the most notable part of this next era being its cultural roots. Think of the internet, the social media we know today, and the growth they saw shortly after this stage in their respective tenures. There was a time when Twitter was just an obscure social platform that found adoption through the few and skeptic sentiments in the masses. A little over a decade later, the first tweet just sold as an NFT for $2.9 million and the platform has changed the world as we know it.
Crypto is at the edge of something big, and NFTs might just be the final push to the future.
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