What Is An Non-Fungible Token (NFT)
NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’. Non-fungible means that something is unique and can’t be replaced. By contrast, physical money and cryptocurrencies are fungible, which means they can be traded or exchanged for one another. Every NFT contains a digital signature which makes each one unique. NFTs are digital assets and could be photos, videos, audio files, or another digital format. NFT examples include artwork, comic books, sports collectibles, trading cards, games, and more.
Although the technology has been around for a while, NFTs took off in 2020 and have been growing in popularity ever since, particularly in the digital art world. NFTs have generated great excitement but at the same time have been criticized for being volatile and highly speculative and vulnerable to scams. In this article, we look at what you need to know about NFTs.
What Is an NFT?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are assets that have been tokenized via a blockchain. They are assigned unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from other tokens.
NFTs can be traded and exchanged for money, cryptocurrencies, or other NFTs—it all depends on the value the market and owners have placed on them. For instance, you could use an exchange to create a token for an image of a banana. Some people might pay millions for the NFT, while others might think it worthless.
Cryptocurrencies are tokens as well; however, the key difference is that two cryptocurrencies from the same blockchain are interchangeable—they are fungible. Two NFTs from the same blockchain can look identical, but they are not interchangeable.
How Is an NFT Different from Cryptocurrency?
NFT stands for non-fungible token. It’s generally built using the same kind of programming as cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Physical money and cryptocurrencies are “fungible,” meaning they can be traded or exchanged for one another. They’re also equal in value—one dollar is always worth another dollar; one Bitcoin is always equal to another Bitcoin. Crypto’s fungibility makes it a trusted means of conducting transactions on the blockchain.
NFTs are different. Each has a digital signature that makes it impossible for NFTs to be exchanged for or equal to one another (hence, non-fungible). One NBA Top Shot clip, for example, is not equal to every day simply because they’re both NFTs.
How do NFTs work?
NFTs are created through a process called minting, in which the information of the NFT is recorded on a blockchain. At a high level, the minting process entails a new block is created, NFT information being validated by a validator, and the block being closed. This minting process often entails incorporating smart contracts that assign ownership and manage the transferability of the NFT.
As tokens are minted, they are assigned a unique identifier directly linked to one blockchain address. Each token has an owner, and the ownership information is publicly available. Even if 5,000 NFTs of the same exact item are minted, each token has a unique identifier and can be distinguished from the others
How to Buy NFTs
If you’re keen to start your own NFT collection, you’ll need to acquire some key items:
First, you’ll need to get a digital wallet that allows you to store NFTs and cryptocurrencies. You’ll likely need to purchase some cryptocurrency, like Ether, depending on what currencies your NFT provider accepts. You can buy crypto using a credit card on platforms like Coinbase, Kraken, eToro, and even PayPal and Robinhood now. You’ll then be able to move it from the exchange to your wallet of choice.
You’ll want to keep fees in mind as you research options. Most exchanges charge at least a percentage of your transaction when you buy crypto.
Investing In NFTs
Like real estate, fine art, and other cryptocurrencies, the biggest risk for NFT investors is whether the items will keep their value or not.
Thousands of NFT sales worth millions of dollars in total value are traded each day. Although some NFTs may go for millions, most don’t even break $200.
Token holders may get stuck with NFTs if their popularity declines and people stop wanting to buy them.
Non-fungible tokens are also very useful in identity security. For example, personal information stored on an immutable blockchain cannot be accessed, stolen, or used by anyone that doesn’t have the keys.
NFTs can also democratize investing by fractionalizing physical assets like real estate. It is much easier to divide a digital real estate asset among multiple owners than a physical one. That tokenization ethic need not be constrained to real estate; it can extend to other assets, such as artwork. Thus, a painting need not always have a single owner. Instead, multiple people can purchase a share of it, transferring ownership of a fraction of the physical painting to them. Such arrangements could increase its worth and revenues because more people can purchase parts of expensive art than those who can buy entire pieces.
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