Just when you thought the hype around bitcoin was starting to level off, a new player appears to have entered the cryptocurrency arena and is now being dubbed the new frontier of the crypto gold rush.
It all started with a piece of art that sold for more than $88 million via the renowned Christie’s auction house. However, the winning bidder did not purchase a print or a painting, but a digital art piece that only exists in the ether – they will receive a unique digital token known as an NFT.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are the latest crypto phenomenon that has gone mainstream overnight. NTFs are digital assets built on the same blockchain technology as bitcoin and ethereum. But unlike cryptocurrencies, they cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency. The tokens are unique asset identifiers that are considered to be non-fungible because they cannot be forged, replicated or divided.
The internet’s newest, and arguably most confusing, asset is leaving investors (as well as people in the internet) scratching their heads. What exactly is an NFT and how does it work?
Let’s break down the basics on this new digital asset.
As we’ve mentioned, NFT stands for non-fungible token. In economics, a fungible asset means that it’s exchangeable, like money. For example, you can trade a $20 note for four $5 notes and it will be of equal value.
This, however, doesn’t apply to a non-fungible asset, which has unique properties, meaning it cannot be interchanged with something else. This is because NFTs are unique and each one is one of a kind. For example, traditional works of art such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s The Starry Night are considered as non-fungible. While you can make copies of them by taking a picture or buying a print, there will always be only one original and authentic painting.
While art paintings are one of a kind, digital forms of art (including audio, videos and drawings) can be easily and endlessly duplicated. They can be seen, screencapped and downloaded by anyone online.
This is where NFTs come in. They function as a non-duplicable digital certificate of ownership for any assigned digital asset. It is basically a contract that is assembled using bits of open source code and used to secure a digital item. Once the code is created, it is then minted and then published into a token on a blockchain.
NFTs are unique collectible tokens that are permanently tied to a specific digital asset. It is a form of digital asset whose ownership is recorded on a blockchain.
If you’re an intermediate crypto trader, you may be highly familiar with this. But those that are new to it may think of it as a digital ledger that keeps a publicly accessible record of who owns what asset, similar to the kinds of networks that are behind bitcoin. Most NFTs are part of the ethereum blockchain, where the ownership and transaction history of each unique NFT are stored.
So, NFT tokens can be considered as digital passports. Each token has a unique and non-transferable identity to differentiate it from other tokens. Because of this, it can’t be replicated. Similar to bitcoin, NFTs contain ownership details for identification and easy transfer between token holders. Like cryptocurrencies, they also have no tangible form of their own.
Once it is purchased, the owner of the NFT has the digital rights to resell, distribute or license the digital asset at their own discretion. The only limitation is that the creator can program, in the conditions in the NTF’s code, how it gets used. For example, they can bar it from being displayed on a certain platform, such as a streaming network or a TV network. NFT creators can also earn royalties from future reselling transactions.
Digital artworks are particularly marketable as a unique collectible when published as an NFT. The sudden rise in popularity of NFTs came from a string of artists, influencers and musicians that have recently started striking gold by selling NFT versions of their digital art, as investors and collectors line up to get their hands (virtually) on them.
But are NFTs only for artworks? No. Almost any digital collectible can be converted into an NFT. You can turn real estate, online trading cards, GIFs, memes and even video game costumes into an NFT. In fact, the possibilities are endless – Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet was turned into an NFT and was sold at an auction for $3.8 million.
World-renowned brands such as Nike, Louis Vuitton and the NBA have already started generating NFT-based consumer goods and services. The most popular NFT platform, NBA Topshot, has sold almost $349 million worth of unique NBA video highlights. In Australia, start-up Zora is attempting to cash in on this new digital economy by embarking on a journey to create a sustainable marketplace for creators by using NFTs.
To purchase an NFT, buyers must figure out what cryptocurrency is needed for the transaction, then purchase the cryptocurrency then create a digital wallet for the transaction. While ethereum is one of the most popular currencies for NFT transactions, each platform chooses its digital wallet service. Make sure to do your research before purchasing your digital currencies.
Once you’ve covered this step, you can start looking for NFTs to purchase in digital marketplaces such as OpenSea, Rarible and Mintable.
Be careful about buying cryptocurrencies and make sure that you are buying from a reputable crypto exchange.
With all this said, should you invest in NFTs? NFTs gain value from the same deflationary principles as bitcoin – there is a limited number of tokens and the item is unique and cannot be duplicated.
Additionally, an NFT’s value is based on how well-received the item is by people who want to purchase it. If an item is highly desirable, its value will understandably go up.
People purchase NFTs for different reasons. It can be a financial investment, a sentimental purchase or a way for a buyer to support an NFT creator, like an artist or a musician. Think of it as people collecting sports trading cards or vintage toys.
But because NFTs are a relatively new asset, there is still a lot to learn about them. Additionally, it can be difficult to put a price on a digital art, making it an incredibly risky investment. After all, there are no guidelines on how much a meme or GIF is worth, so there’s a lot of guesstimating involved on how much you’ll be able to profit from it, or whether you will be able to sell it at all.
But if you want to be part of the so-called NFT gold rush, it’s advised to set a spending limit and only spend what you can afford to lose. NFTs are highly speculative, so don’t dive into it with the expectation of getting millions of dollars in one transaction. It may be better to keep the majority of your money in safer investments, such as index funds or ETFs. This will put you in a better position to take on risky investments.
While NFTs are an interesting new type of investment, it doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. If you’re determined to be part of the hype, it may not hurt to explore this asset and buy one or two that catch your interest. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to watch this crypto phenomenon unfold from the sidelines where your money will be safe.
Zarah Mae Torrazo
March 30 2021
BEc (Acc), MBA, CPA, FFin
David has been in the Financial Services Industry for nearly 30 years. He was one of the founding Directors of the successful Financial Planning and Stockbroking Practice, Henderson Gregory Forrest, for a decade. Prior to that, he held senior roles in companies such as ING, KPMG Accountants and AMP. David was previously Chairman of OAMPS Superannuation Trustee Board and currently serves as an independent Board Director for several companies.
David’s extensive experience in all forms of superannuation, including Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF), Defined Benefit Funds, retirement funding through Account Based Pensions, stockbroking with a focus on Direct Share Investment, Taxation/Remuneration Planning, Centrelink, Aged Care and business management, equip him to advise expertly on all aspects of Financial Advice.
Those with a particular interest in superannuation/SMSFs, direct share investment, salary packaging or applying for the Centrelink Pension will find his knowledge and ability in formulating and implementing creative, logical and simple wealth creation strategies a valuable asset.
David maintains a strong personalised client service focus, providing tailored solutions for clients.
David Forrest is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846
Business Finance Manager
B Bus (Acc), CPA
Michelle’s career has spanned across the Financial Services, Retirement Living and Aged Care industries working in the private sector, not for profit and more recently with the state government for over 20 years. Her experience extends to many facets of the financial services industry, having worked in superannuation administration, technical support and financial planning practice administration.
Commencing with AMP and subsequently working in commerce and accounting roles with companies such as Brambles, Adelaide Bank Retirement Services, ECH Inc and SA Health and Wellbeing, Michelle returns to financial services after working in practice financial management at Henderson Gregory Forrest. This wide range of experience from senior accounting and management roles has provided Michelle with a strong background in business administration.
With an astute financial acumen and keen interest in business improvement strategies, Michelle ensures the smooth running of the Integrity Financial Advisory practice providing valued management support to our personalised client service focus.
B Com, Dip FP
Darren joins the Integrity team as a strong technical specialist with almost 20 years’ in the Financial Services industry. He has extensive experience advising clients on how to build and protect wealth, prepare for retirement and retire comfortably.
Commencing with advising clients on direct equities for over 10 years at Baker Young, Tolhurst Noall, and ABN AMRO Morgans, his career expanded to providing holistic client advice, having operated his own financial services licence and company. Most recently having worked for a 'Big 4' bank, he has welcomed the more personalised ‘client first’ approach that is evident at Integrity Financial Advisory.
With a deep understanding of investment markets, he is appropriately qualified and authorised to provide direct share advice, as well as superannuation/SMSF advice, encompassing both investments and insurance.
Meticulous in his approach, he aims to deliver quality outcomes for clients by understanding their financial situation and needs before providing advice which is central to our advice process. Darren supports David in tailoring solutions for all client financial advice needs.
Darren Chalk is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846
Client Service Manager
Natasha commenced working in the financial services industry in June 2008 and is a new addition to the Integrity team. During the past 11 years, she worked closely with advisers providing administration support in a share broking and financial advice business.
Having successfully completed her RG146 accreditation in securities and managed investments and continued her studies to complete her competency in Superannuation, Natasha can ably assist with all aspects of fixed interest, cash management, portfolio administration, direct shares and client advice implementation.
Natasha takes time to ensure she understands our client’s financial goals and needs and believes in creating, preserving and utilising wealth through effective financial management as a key objective in helping clients.
Client Service Manager
Kelly has worked in the Financial Services Industry for over 10 years and has supported David since 2013. Kelly’s primary background is in customer service and administration.
On starting in the industry, Kelly initially focused on direct shares, stockbroking administration and client liaison. Since moving to the Client Service Manager role, Kelly has developed skills encompassing all aspects of financial planning including client advice implementation and term deposit management.
Kelly’s experience in the direct share environment, especially management of estates, provides a key part of the direct equity expertise in Integrity’s Client Service Team.
Returning from Parental Leave following the arrival of her second child, Kelly has developed further honed multi-tasking skills after juggling the demands of a growing family.
Client Service Manager
Jasmine has worked in the financial services industry for over 12 years in all areas of client administration, working with David since 2013.
Jasmine has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, portfolio reporting, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), term deposit management and a long history of helping clients with their enquiries.
Jasmine’s attention to detail, yet gentle approach, means she is able to solve the trickiest of questions for our client community.
Jasmine has gained her Certificate III in Financial Services qualification.
Client Service Manager
Merrilyn has worked in the financial services industry for over 11 years in all areas of client administration, and is a new addition to our client services team, returning from Melbourne to join the team in June 2019.
Merrilyn has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, managed fund administration, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) and process improvement for the previous practices she has worked with. Merrilyn’s experience with direct shares constitutes the other part of our administrative support for direct equity investments.
Merrilyn’s warm and caring nature continues to endear her to our clients and she has already established herself as a valued member of our team.