Expert panel explores what NFTs are, why all companies should have a long-term strategy and why they are key to the future growth of IP.
‘You won’t survive if you don’t have an NFT strategy for the long-term’.
That was the view of an expert panel yesterday (11 May) which was discussing just what an NFT is and how they can help brands.
The second in License Global’s webinar series, WTF is an NFT? saw Trevor George (co-ceo of Recur), Zach Bruch (co-ceo of Recur), Cuy Sheffield (head of crypto at Visa) and Gary Vaynerchuk (ceo of VaynerMedia) discuss everything companies with licensed IP might need to think through to navigate the new industry.
Trevor George, who co-founded Recur – a technology company which designs and develops on-chain branded experiences that allow fans to buy, collect and re-sell digital products and collectables – with Zach Bruch earlier this year, started out by stating there is pressure on companies at the moment to figure out their first move into NFTs.
Explaining how the digital world of NFTs relates to the physical world of collecting, Zach commented: “In the late 1990s everyone interacted on the internet on bulletin boards, then AOL chat rooms and then Reddit arrived and aggregated all of these niche communities in one space.
“As we’re seeing NFTs develop, these are giving fans the chance to buy a digital product from these communities – accessing their favourite things, with other people. You can tie the NFT to a physical product or engagement, meaning that it’s an ongoing experience and the brand can continue to communicate with fans via NFTs which becomes really powerful.”
Visa’s Cuy believes that NFTs represent a new era for ecommerce. “Digital worlds have existed for a long time,” he commented, “and companies have built selling assets in those worlds but they were a closed loop… so they weren’t really possessions. NFTs create open loop digital worlds – you can purchase something in one world and you are able to take it with you to another one. This is incredibly powerful.”
One of the key points raised was how to make the world of NFTs as accessible as possible for the mass market.
“The first experiences we’ve seen have appealed to people who are already in crypto,” admitted Cuy. “That is one segment of the market, but it has to be able to be purchased in the same way that anything else is purchased online. So, you need to be able to use a Visa card to buy an NFT, but instead of a [traditional] shipping address, there’s a crypto address and it’s delivered to a crypto wallet.”
Zach continued: “People won’t get into the space if there is too much friction [to entry]. Making it accessible changes the entire landscape. Thanks to the involvement of companies like Visa, we’re seeing it become easier for folks to access these things… crypto really is becoming mainstream.”
For VaynerMedia’s Guy, NFTs are another form of social currency. “[It’s the same as] why people buy a Mercedes Benz, wear fashion brands with a prominent logo, have a Rolex, why they have the haircut they have… it’s all a way of communicating. As our world becomes more digital, our communication needs will continue to matter. Digital social currency is important. NFTs will be an ‘and’ not an ‘or’.”
The overall message was that IP owners need to be thinking about their long-term NFT strategies now.
“Crypto’s here to stay and it’s not as scary as people think it is,” offered Zach. “NFTs will serve as the largest gateway ever into the digital eco-system, allowing fans to enjoy themselves and engage, which is an extremely powerful thing.”
Gary concluded: “New technologies scare people. They didn’t want to put their credit card details into the internet, they didn’t want a Blackberry because they had a beeper, then they didn’t want an iPhone because they had a Blackberry… people will say no, but it’s the people who say yes who will win. Don’t make a subjective call… do your homework. NFTs can be a substantial shift for IP. This is the greatest era to own IP by a country mile.”
(Pictured from clockwise from top left: Trevor George, co-ceo of Recur; Zach Bruch, co-ceo of Recur; Gary Vaynerchuk, ceo of VaynerMedia; and Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa.)