The first-ever NFT, Quantum, was created (or ‘minted’) in 2014. But it wasn’t until the popularity of NFTs soared in 2021 that it became the buzzword we were all hearing. 

From Nyan Cat being sold as an NFT for almost $600K, to digital artist Beeple selling his ‘Everydays’ collage for an astonishing $69 million, the NFT trend grabbed global attention. 

And despite recent reports that NFT sales are declining, the future for NFTs still looks promising. Instagram recently announced they’re going to start testing NFTs and similar functionality for ‘digital collectibles’ will be coming to Facebook soon. 

If you were to ask someone what they know about NFTs, chances are they’ll relate it to digital artwork, as above. Whilst this is an exciting field for NFTs, we wanted to discover other lesser-known ways that NFTs might be used in future. 

This post will consider 5 potential NFT use cases that go beyond digital art. 

 

A brief explanation of NFTs 

Before we begin, let’s take a minute to understand what NFTs are. 

An NFT (or non-fungible token) is a digital asset used to represent the ownership of a unique item. That unique item can be digital e.g. a tweet, a GIF or a music file. Or the NFT can be linked to a physical item in the real world, like a parcel of land or a rare painting. 

But what exactly does ‘non-fungible’ mean?  

A five-dollar note is a fungible item - meaning you can swap one for another at the same equivalent value. But the car in your driveway is a non-fungible item. It’s got unique qualities and won’t be exactly the same as your neighbour’s car, even if they own the same model and make. 

In the same way, NFTs are non-fungible. NFTs can’t be exchanged for an identical item, because they all have unique properties. That’s what makes them special.

NFTs can be bought and sold online using cryptocurrency. They’re stored on a blockchain (usually Ethereum) and, importantly, cannot be replicated. So whilst you can become a ‘right click saver’ and copy-paste an NFT, that doesn’t mean you own it. Nor does it mean you’ve created another copy equal to the original.

The value of an NFT can be highly speculative. Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet sold for $2.9 million last year but recently plummeted in value when the owner tried to sell it. At the time of writing this article, the tweet is sitting at $24K. 

As mentioned earlier, digital artwork is the most well-known use of NFTs. But how can other industries utilise NFTs to their advantage?

 

Real estate

The real estate industry is typically slowed down by its manual processes. Going from banks to estate agents to solicitors, the transactions can be complex, lengthy and costly.  Some companies are already making waves in the real estate industry by digitising their processes.

There’s huge potential to streamline the industry further through the use of NFTs. Think ownership history, land agreements, loans and licences. These are all unique assets that can be digitised using NFTs, making for speedier transactions and reducing the physical paperwork. 

You could also use NFTs  to allow for fractional ownership of properties. If a homeowner wanted to raise some extra cash, they could sell off part of their property as NFTs to investors. If the home is being rented, the investors would receive a share of the rental income. And when it’s sold, they’d receive a cut of any profit from the sale. 

There are of course many complications that could arise in this situation. But it would be a great way to help more people onto the property ladder and into real estate investment. 

 

Ticketing

Another exciting future NFT use case is ticketing for events. 

In the past couple of years, we’ve all seen a massive upsurge in the use of QR codes. Covid-related mandates meant that in many countries, including Australia, it was impossible to go anywhere without needing to ‘check in’. And as the world moved away from things that require too much physical touch, mobile tickets with QR codes were adopted by even the most traditional organisations and consumers. 

Whilst QR codes and e-tickets bridge the gap between physical and digital, they serve a functional purpose and make tickets… kind of boring. Remember the days of collecting your ticket stubs, saving your paper tickets as memorabilia and reflecting on the memories they evoke? You lose that emotion with digital tickets as they stand today.

NFT tickets are potentially the next step forward for the ticketing industry. And offer marketers a chance to bring storytelling back to the humble ticket. 

We’re already seeing this happen. This year’s Super Bowl attendees all received virtual commemorative NFT tickets alongside their physical tickets. Each NFT was customised with the ticket holder’s unique section, row and seat, giving them a digital keepsake to remember their experience. These NFTs could hold resale value in future, much the same way as collectible paper ticket stubs. 

Brands can get creative with their NFT tickets too. You can design them with artwork that reflects your brand identity or tells the story of the event. Or how about tying NFTs to discounts on food and drinks? Or giving rewards to ticket holders who’ve attended multiple events? The opportunities are endless. 

 

Intellectual property

Next on our list of NFT use cases is tokenising Intellectual Property (IP) and patents. This idea is already being worked on by tech giants IPwe and IBM, who plan to use NFTs to represent patent registers. Patents will be securely recorded on IBM’s blockchain. 

It’s believed that tokenising patents will make it easier for them to be sold, traded or commercialised. Self-executing contracts would be included in tokens. So when a token is transferred the legal rights to the patent are also transferred. 

NFT patents will also make it easier for organisations to show their patents as assets on their balance sheets. This is especially beneficial for smaller organisations, as they’ll be able to leverage their IP when seeking funding. 

Academic Credentials 

Think of any educational certificates that you own. They’re likely plain paper certificates, framed, hung and forgotten about. Or shoved in a drawer somewhere never to be seen again. For many of us, certificates don’t hold the same meaning that they used to.

And they’re so easy to fake. Forged certificates are now a billion-dollar industry and pose a huge risk to the safety of the general public. Imagine your kid’s school teacher isn’t actually certified? Or the dentist pulling your teeth out isn’t qualified?

NFT certificates could change things - making your credentials wall-worthy whilst also acting as genuine proof of completion. 

A great example of this NFT use case already in action is the certificates provided by the d.MBA. The d.MBA is an educational provider that runs a 6-week business course for designers. 

The d.MBA were facing problems with people faking the completion of their course. As well as battling this issue, they also wanted to find a way of creating certificates that students would want to hang on their walls proudly. 

Their solution was NFT certificates, beautifully designed as a collection of artwork, but with each NFT being unique. Upon completion of the course, students receive:

  1. A PDF of the artwork with their name on it that they can print and hang
  2. A JPG of the artwork with their name on it that they can share digitally
  3. An NFT of the artwork without their name on it

As ownership of an NFT can easily be transferred, having the NFT certificate doesn’t prove that you completed the course. The proof is in the transaction. If you can show that you received the token from the d.MBA’s crypto wallet address, you can prove that you completed the course. 

 

Supply Chain Transparency 

Last but not least, the fifth of our NFT use cases is all about the supply chain. Some industries and organisations can be a little shady when it comes to supply chain transparency. For example, Nike was infamously accused of sweatshop labour in the 90’s. And over in the UK, there was a huge ‘horsemeat scandal' in 2013, where it transpired that frozen ‘beef’ burgers were 80% horse. 

It’s rarely easy for the end consumer to know exactly where their products come from. Or, if we’re talking about processed food, exactly what’s in it. 

By attaching NFTs to products, companies will be able to track their products from manufacturing through to delivery. Metadata about the product such as location, weight and certifications could be updated in the NFT. And that data would remain stored in the blockchain as the product moves through the supply chain. This would give an entire detailed history of the product up until the moment it’s delivered. 

If this information is openly shared with consumers, they’ll have more insight into what they’re purchasing and how it’s produced. 

Getting companies to agree to expose their supply chain is another matter though. Aside from giving their customers more information than they might be comfortable with, the main downside would be giving away any supply chain secrets to their competitors. 

One company that’s happily embraced ‘traceability technology’ is Ireland Craft Beverages, which has produced the world’s first ‘blockchain beer’. Their Downstream beer brand is utilising blockchain technology to allow you to follow its journey from barley to bottle. Every bottle or can is uniquely marked and authenticated, enabling full traceability through the supply chain. So you can find out exactly where and when your beer was made, what’s in it and even who was involved in making it.

 

Closing

NFTs are not just for artwork. Beyond the novelty of collectible digital kitties and pixelated apes lie real-world NFT use cases that could transform a whole range of industries. Five of these uses include:

  1. Real Estate
  2. Ticketing
  3. Intellectual Property
  4. Academic Credentials
  5. Supply Chain Transparency

There are many more we could add to that list and we can’t wait to see what the next big thing in NFTs is! 

 

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Got an idea for an innovative use of NFT or other tech?
Hit us up at
hello@studiobravo.com.au and let's chat about it!