Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital representations of goods which publicly show their ownership, history, and scarcity. The "token" part of "Non-fungible token" refers to this digital representation and that the NFT is only a reference to the original. "Non-fungible" refers to the token's property of being unique and unable to be swapped for another token.
A 1 USD coin is fungible because you could replace that coin with another coin with no issues. But each NFT is unique, and you cannot simply swap them out for a different NFT, even if they are both a representation of the same good.
NFTs are a new technology, and their full impact and implications are still being explored. Currently, NFTs are most popularly being used to prove ownership over digital copies of media, such as digital artwork, but they have many other uses.
Creating an NFT is called “minting”. When an NFT is minted, it's given ownership and recorded on a digital ledger called a blockchain. The most common blockchains for minting NFTs are Ethereum, Polygon, Near, and Flow. You manage any NFTs that you mint or own through a crypto wallet. Crypto wallets are digital accounts that help process transactions of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin or Ether. You must have a crypto wallet to mint or purchase an NFT. The ownership history of an NFT is easily traceable and verifiable by the public.
What it means for Collectors & Buyers
Buyers or collectors can establish the uniqueness of the work supported by a verifiable ownership history and transaction values. This allows them to make a more informed decision on the Artwork on display, including its user interest in an open marketplace. Having a verifiable and tamper-proof ownership record would also mean better resale opportunities without being constrained by re-establishing the work's authenticity. Several points of consideration include, but are not limited to:
- Verifiable Ownership of Artwork
- Financially support the Artists you like
- Track of historical transactions to validate the value
- Provable provenance of the Artwork (Physical or Digital)
What it means to Artists
With NFTs, every Artist can stamp their signatures on their works in a tamper-proof manner, thus avoiding any misrepresentation or future issues of creative rights over their works. Further, it also supports them to know the sale history of their works and track provenance for any unclaimed royalties for the created works.
More importantly, for Digital Artists, it allows them to mark their original creation without compromising its true value potential given its medium of display.