At ETH Denver’s virtual conference, non-exchangeable tokens were in the spotlight with seven keynote presentations dedicated to utility, adoption, and new use cases – a sign of the growing acceptance of what was previously considered a niche or lesser application of blockchain technology.
While the seven presentations dwindled to the 14 decentralized funding presentations (not to mention the four-hour ad hoc summit), stage time comes against the backdrop of an impressive year for NFTs. Sales numbers routinely exceed half a million, many NFT-backed games have enjoyed major advances in player bases and governance, and more recently even celebrities have been using technology to distribute art of sometimes questionable quality to die-hard audiences.
However, games and collectibles are not the only arena in which NFTs begin to play a role. In a talk titled “Bridging the Gap between DeFi and NFTs,” Alex Salnikov of Rarible noted that creative smart contract engineering is leading to a boom in DeFi’s use of non-exchangeable tokens.
Fractional ownership, encapsulation of ERC-20s, use of NFTs as collateral, and NFTs are all driving NFTs into the similarly hot emerging financial sector – and Salnikov believes this trend will only continue as new ventures emerge in the market.
“I think a lot of new projects will appear in the near future, because we have seen a huge increase in activity since September, but it takes half a year to a year to build a really good project. […] So the NFT project will explode. “
Likewise, John Crane’s “NFTs: Trends in 2021” presentation focused not only on the growth of familiar NFT poles, but also on how NFTs help enable traditional meat space agreements such as mortgages, and not just in the metaverse (he’s also taking promising steps).
These technical developments are affecting the number of titles participating in NFTs, as well as the overall size of popular NFT markets such as Opensea. According to Dune Analytics, traffic on the Opensea platform is starting to curve the parabola:
Nick Tomaino (NTmoney) February 10, 2021
Some commentators believe the space could do more to attract more followers. Mintable’s Zach Burks said in his presentation, “Paving the Way for the Adoption of NFTs to the Mainstream,” that the number of NFT users dwindles as the number of participants in the wider Ethereum ecosystem.
Suppose there are 300,000 [NFT] Users, there is a volume of 300 million dollars, and there are 10 million Ethereum users. “If you take 10 to 300,000, that’s bad,” Birx said. “We must have at least half of Ethereum users who use NFT, and why don’t we have that? Because their portal for interacting with NFTs is not yet there.”
He called for the creation of more tailored marketplaces to empower creators to excel, as well as more simplicity so your grandmother can browse blockchain assets efficiently.
Yet even if there is work to be done, the show at ETH Denver makes clear that the use case that was once parodied as secondary is now an integral part of mainstream development. What’s more, Crane said in a Q&A after his session that while some people will never “get” an NFT, non-exchangeable tokens will inevitably attract her own group of assistants.
He said, “Hateers will always hate, so this is not surprising.” It’s like Bitcoin where you say at first, “This is too crazy, it won’t work,” but then you go deeper.