Twitter is decorated with cartoon monkeys and penguins – non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that have risen to the surface of cryptocurrency.
For some, it has sparked their curiosity. For some, confusion. For others, they were a source of profit. Now, some UNC students are taking advantage of the deal as NFTs become increasingly popular.
NFTs are units of value stored on the blockchain, a digital database, that act as unique, non-copyable files. It is designed to increase the value of digital files by making them rare.
Nick Gargano, a sophomore business major, said he was not personally involved in its creation but has experience buying and selling NFTs.
“It’s kind of an internet collectible,” he said. “It’s like assigning a signature to a digital object like a photo or something really. It can be associated with anything and make it even more unique.”
NFTs operate as cryptocurrency and people need a digital wallet, as opposed to a folder, to store items. NFTs drop similarly to their first appearance in the physical market – customers must be on the trading platform when the NFT debuts to get one before the offer runs out.
This is called minting, which creates an NFT and places it in wallets, Gargano said, allowing people to hold it or sell it in other markets.
Gargano said that some NFT groups have perks and privileges online, specifically the Bored Ape Yacht Club, where many celebrities buy Twitter profile pictures.
“A lot of those are driven by too much noise, especially to be limited,” he said. “It’s also kind of a con for them. You can build a buzz around him and then once he dies, they can become worthless.”
Megan Teese, a sophomore majoring in business and computer science and director of digital marketing for the University Business Technology Club at UNU, said she started collecting NFTs when they first took off during the pandemic.
“It was COVID when everything started to get more digital,” she said. “With NFTs, I was able to collect digital assets that were almost real-world assets. And then, with buying, selling and trading, holdings became contactless and more of a physical item.”
Tezzi trades on NFT platforms like the NBA Top Shot and NFL All Day, which allow people to collect “one-of-a-kind moments” instead of physical sports cards.
She said these moments are completely unique and cannot be replicated, as only a limited number of people can own a particular NFT.
Issey Hailey, a first-year neuroscientist, said he’s made more than $1,000 in NFTs and has been on several projects, including the Crypto Coral Tribe, an NFT group based on marine conservation.
One of the reasons Hayley said he joined the NFTs was because he wanted to be ahead of the curve and knew there would be big profits with decentralizing the internet. Thus, NFTs create a platform where digital creators – whether they are musicians or visuals – can make more profit from their work than they can make on a major digital platform like Spotify.
“It’s like a personal souvenir that you can also make money from,” Hailey said. “It was no different for me – I really love the shoes.” “It was no different for me than buying and selling shoes.”
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