Earlier in March, the world's first virtual house sold for half a million dollars. Would this have happened if the world was still operating as per normal? Perhaps, not for another decade. For all the harm that the pandemic has caused—to creative industries in particular—it has also played a key role in jumpstarting innovation.
NFTs have been one of the beneficiaries of this double-edged dive into the future. In accustoming ourselves to a digital reality, we've started molding it into a place that feels familiar—a world where objects can be one-of-a-kind and we can associate more value to 'originals', even if they can't be told apart from their copies.
It's a purely sentimental endeavour. In other words, exactly what's missing from a reality powered by machines.
"The NFT market has grown by more than 229 percent since 2020 to reach a value of over USD500 million," says Matthew Lim, co-founder of VIDY—a blockchain-powered digital advertising venture. "However, it's still in the early stages and has a long way to go with regards to infrastructure development."
While our current introductions to NFTs have been wildly memorable—a tweet which sold for USD2.5 million, a digital painting which sold for USD69.3 million—Lim asserts that there's a lot more to come. "With the metaverse and rise of digital models, people will be able to live in a parallel virtual world where they can own an identity and purchase items not just in a digital file, but as any unique asset in their virtual land, similar to the physical world."
It sounds like The Sims, but instead of being simulated, it's real—oh, but also virtual. And also a tiny bit confusing. That's okay though. There's still plenty of groundwork which needs to be laid down before we start wiring our consciousness onto the internet.
For now, a digital marketplace seems to be the step forward. VIDY is teaming up with Media Publishares—publishers of Esquire, Vogue, Buro, and Robb Report in Singapore—to develop a navigable virtual environment showcasing digital fashion, art, music, and design. This will be a place to mint, trade, and auction NFTs, allowing seamless participation from creators and consumers alike.
"What we see is a new creative renaissance where creativity and technology are driving change together," says Michael von Schlippe, founder of Media Publishares. "By creating an NFT platform, which essentially acts as a virtual marketplace between creatives and users, it allows us to provide a unique shoppable platform coupled with content for the community in the form of education, interaction and entertainment.”
The NFT platform is slated to launch in the latter half of 2021.