Artists have long struggled to monetize their work. The cliched image of the starving artist, living in his garret, endures for many valid reasons. Firstly, it can be hard to gain visibility in a world awash with competitors. Secondly, it can be challenging to prove authenticity and ownership and therefore difficult to find a secondary market for resale. Modern digital artists, however, are starting to benefit from a development that has revolutionized their industry: NFTs.
NFTs help struggling artists
The use of NFTs gives artists the chance to sell their art online. It also benefits the buyer in that they are able to authenticate the sale and prove unique ownership. This provides a powerful space for upcoming artists to showcase their talent.
NFT is strictly speaking a non-fungible token: literally ‘non-transferable’. Whereas Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for equally valued coins, the NFT is a unique record of a particular sale or transaction. Once the artist has created the token and added it to a bidding website, consumers from all over the world are able to bid on the piece of art. Because the blockchain technology that powers it creates a unique digital record of the transaction, the owner can be certain he is the ‘sole owner’ and can easily sell it in the future, much like a physical asset.
AUTZ tokens support the autistic community
Chris Bills and business partner Richmond Sodokpo are particularly interested in using this technology to help to raise funds for a community of artists very close to their hearts: the autistic community. Sodokpo, in particular, has a daughter on the spectrum and had long sought a means of generating much-needed revenue to support the cause.
Combining their experience of blockchain, and cryptocurrency, the pair helped artists use NFTs to showcase their talent and generate sales. Moreover, they developed AUTZ—a digital currency, based on the Ethereum blockchain, that generates much-needed revenue for those affected by ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). A portion of the profit produced by the AUTZ tokens is donated directly to autism charities and families.
Initially, Bills’ aim was to disseminate crypto information with a community of enthusiastic learners. Since many small-time investors had become extremely interested in the rapidly growing market, he figured he could use his expertise to help others make wise investments. As the crypto-community grew, Bills decided to invest more time into developing AUTZ and the NFTs that would enable artists to make money.
Blockchain’s growing influence
Blockchain technology has proven to be reliable, with many large, multinational companies, such as Coca-Cola, adopting it as a means of receiving payment for their products. Others have even gone so far as to set up a crypto-payroll.
Despite the relative newness of the technology, and therefore the tendency towards a bubble effect, there are more benefits than drawbacks. Some new developments, like StableCoin, seek to blend the new technology with the best of the old world by linking coins to fiat currency and tracking their value.
Digital currency goes mainstream
Artists are not the only ones jumping onto the digital currency bandwagon. Many Fortune 500 companies have also started to utilize the technology. Notably, Tesla owner, Elon Musk, has reported that he has bought up almost $1.5 billion in Bitcoin assets. Given the size and strength of his company, it has been a much-needed boost for crypto-currencies, making the technology much more mainstream. Big players such as Visa and Mastercard are also hoping to use the technology for financial transactions. Ironically, the technology was initially developed to avoid the need for intermediaries. However, the giant payment platforms believe that adding a brand name will encourage many more users to take up the opportunity to use the new technology.
One thing all economists agree on is that fiat currencies worldwide are highly susceptible to inflationary degradation and loss of value. Michael Saylor, CEO of the leading software company MicroStrategy, estimates that degradation is wiping as much as 15% per annum off the value of cash assets. In a highly public tweet, he encouraged Elon Musk to use even more of the cash assets on Tesla’s balance sheet and invest in Bitcoin.
The rise of Central Bank Digital Currencies
Bills and Sodokpo believe that crypto-currencies will soon be universally accepted. The pair cite the numerous advantages crypto offers: instant transactions that can’t be reversed (unlike ACH transfers), cheaper international transfers, 24/7 access that doesn’t rely on banks, and fewer charges (that often penalize the poor).
Indications are that central banks in several leading nations are, in fact, investigating the idea of having their own digital currencies. So-called CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies), would operate much like Bitcoin or Etereum, with one crucial difference: they would enjoy the full backing of the government. Whilst the US venture, Project Hamilton, has started to research the possibility of a CBDC, Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, has intimated that the reality is a long way off.
Perhaps one of the best models we have is China’s ‘digital yuan’ program, which has been running since 2014. The large-scale pilot has seen millions of yuan handed out to citizens, which they can spend like cash in local stores. Although the scheme hasn’t been nationalized, it’s only a matter of time before the world’s second-largest economy rolls out a full-scale version.
Whilst it’s difficult to predict exactly how digital currencies will evolve, it seems logical to assume they are here to stay and their influence will continue to grow.