To talk about NFTs is to talk about the technology that is transforming digital art, but what is the relationship between these non-fungible tokens and the metaverse?
What is an NFT?
Before continuing to explore the relationship between NFTs, digital art and the metaverse, these terms should be defined.
The first of these refers to the acronym for non-fungible token, a digital and cryptographic asset registered on the blockchain, being the result of tokenising a physical or digital asset, material or immaterial, by means of its digital representation on the blockchain using a standard available for this purpose and which includes a series of metadata with coded information about said asset.
To summarise: NFTs are non-fungible, individualisable, unique and non-divisible tokens.
What is the metaverse?
On the other hand, the metaverse could be considered as the next evolution of the Internet, with an estimated impact that will be similar to that of the birth and explosion of the network itself a few decades ago.
While it is true that defining it is not easy, “one way to think of it is as an expansive network of digital spaces, including immersive 3D experiences in augmented, virtual and mixed reality, that are interconnected and interoperable so you can easily move between them, and where you can create and explore with others who are not in the same physical space as you,” according to Analysis Group.
What is crypto-art or digital art?
Crypto-art or digital art is a new art form that uses new technologies to create unique digital content. It is not just about illustrations, although this is perhaps what comes to mind most when we talk about it. We can also find other formats such as videos, music, poems and even a tweet (when they were still called that, of course…).
Crypto-art uses the technology of NFTs in such a way that each work of art or artistic creation is linked to one, in the same way as with the use of cryptocurrencies.
These NFTs are digital assets based on cryptography that guarantees that each piece is unique and unrepeatable, as well as certifying the authorship and ownership of the piece, securing each transaction made with the work in question, and carrying out a follow-up if necessary.
NFTs, crypto-art and metaverse
The relationship between the two concepts we are talking about, NFTs and metaverse, could be categorised as symbiotic, since the metaverse gives users a digital world in which to create (and monetise) their creations, while NFTs offer a secure way to store and transfer valuable digital objects.
The relevance of the fact that blockchain technology is decentralised must also be taken into consideration, as this is precisely why it allows the elimination of mediators in the trading of digital assets.
Another feature of NFTs that is different from cryptocurrencies, for example, is that they are unique, as we have already mentioned, which is why many experts have seen an important business niche here.
It should be pointed out that non-fungible tokens are not art in themselves, but rather the system that makes it possible to ensure that a specific item has an owner, although it is true that many people assimilate them with the art world.
Regarding the criticism that NFTs are nothing more than assets designed for speculation, their defenders reason that they need not be to a greater degree than a brush-painted work of art.
As a curiosity, we could point out that the relationship between NFTs and art goes beyond living artists. An example of this is the controversy between the descendants of Pablo Picasso (whose death will be 50 years ago this 2023), since one of his granddaughters (and her son) decided to sell more than 1,000 units of digital art of an unpublished ceramic by the artist made in 1958, against the criteria of the rest of the family.
The Merge, the most expensive NFT in history
To understand the dimensions of digital art, it should be noted that the most expensive NFT in history is The Merge, a work by the anonymous artist who uses the name Pak, which in December 2021 was sold for $91.8 million (almost 84 million euros).
One of the peculiarities is that it was not sold for any virtual currency, but rather the buyers invested tokens combined retrospectively to form dynamic NFTs. The visual composition of each NFT is different depending on the amount of tokens that each of the collectors contributed.
According to various experts, the combination of the artist’s recognisable profile and the enigmatic format used made The Merge the most expensive NFT in history.
NFTs in Telefónica
The operator has a Marketplace to which it has recently added new products such as an exclusive collection of Van Gogh by Olyverse or the collection with social commitment by Alexis Díaz Pimienta, called ‘Décimas Vivas’.
Telefónica’s NFT Marketplace offers unique blockchain-based digital assets from different artists and themes, such as unpublished pieces by writer and academic Arturo Pérez Reverte or illustrations inspired by the songs of El Chojín, as well as collections focused on social causes with a charitable purpose such as the NFTs of Javier Mariscal or the collection of the Isabel Gemio Foundation, which has five unique pieces from the web series ‘Cálico Electrónico’.
For Yaiza Rubio, Chief Metaverse Officer of Telefónica, “with our Marketplace we ensure that the NFTs of our creators are truly unique, and offer users an experience behind the purchase, with unpublished content, enriched experiences, exclusive benefits or support for social causes”.
The operator’s relationship with NFTs is not limited to the Marketplace. In fact, at the beginning of 2022, the company launched a collection of NFTs associated with a series of 114 unique drawings in digital format by Ferran Adrià that symbolise the history of culinary evolution.
Metaverse at Telefónica
In a world that is changing, so are human connections. Telefónica sees Web3 and the metaverse as an opportunity to better connect people’s lives.
The technological pillars on which the metaverse is based in the operator are:
- Edge computing, a technology that allows data to be processed closely and securely, making more efficient use of network resources.
- Low latency technologies for stable, delay-free, sustained connectivity. Both fibre optic deployment and next generation wireless networks are essential for the metaverse to develop.
- Programmable networks through network APIs, in a standardised way, to make them interoperable.
Although the development and advancement of these technologies seems to be the future that is yet to come, elements such as the prices paid for some NFTs are the confirmation that, regardless of what we have yet to see, we are facing a reality that is already more than palpable.