Show me the utility! • TechCrunch

When will NFTs really live up to their promise?

Quickly dismissing a nascent technology or tech company is an excellent way to get dunked on in the future.

From RIM’s CEO on the iPhone’s launch to Thomas Siebel brushing off Salesforce challenging Microsoft, there’s a long-running history of such mistaken pronouncements. Given the illustrious history of folks being wrong about the future, I am not going to say that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are never going to become a mainstream technology. But I will admit at this juncture that I am becoming a mote impatient for what’s been promised.

NFTs fit neatly into the most recent crypto boom, with prices of many crypto tokens rising sharply, leading to huge growth in web3 wealth. A speculative frenzy formed around NFTs, leading to well-known projects like BAYC and Doodles managing to raise money to build on top of their IP.

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But as crypto prices have come down, and with consumer interest once again entering a period of abeyance over acceleration, we are also seeing NFT trading activity decline. OpenSea, perhaps the best-known NFT trading platform, is aware of the changing narrative surrounding its core asset class, writing this week about fluctuating market conditions and where it sees the future of non-fungible tokens. It’s a piece of writing worth considering.

So let’s do it. We’ll digest OpenSea co-founder and CEO Devin Finzer’s arguments — and how they match up with what we might hope for in a tech-fueled future.

The promise of NFTs

Finzer considers NFTs to be “unique, provably scarce, openly transferable, user-owned and usable across multiple applications,” calling them a “foundational technology that will underlie thousands of use cases and industries.”

This use-case claim echoes what TechCrunch has heard from others in the web3 space: that NFTs will have myriad uses past what we have become most accustomed to — namely tokens pointing to images stored off-chain.

It’s not a small claim, the use-case comment, and it’s also one that’s testable; the time frame for the utility proliferation of NFT use cases is not entirely clear (more on that shortly), but where the technology and its associated market are heading appears limpid enough to folks building in the web3 market.

What sort of utility might NFTs offer in time? Finzer riffs on some examples:

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