NFTs Explained

WTF is an NFT?

NFT stands for ‘non-fungible token’.

For the 99% of folk who don’t know what ‘non-fungible’ means, it essentially means unique and non-interchangable. So in the case of NFTs, these are unique ‘tokens’ or ‘assets’ that cannot be replaced.

Think of it this way - I go to an art auction and buy an original ‘Van Gogh’. I hang it proudly on my wall knowing full well that this is verified as being the original, which means that there are no other exact copies of this out there. Sure, there are pictures, prints and replicas of this piece of art I just bought, but none of them are the original. Being able to confirm the originality is what it means to be ‘non-fungible’.

Whilst I don’t know how pieces of artwork like that are verified as being original (never bought one to be honest), NFTs are verified as being original on the blockchain. Put simply, a blockchain is a decentralised database that once information is allocated to it, it cannot be changed. Expect more to be coming on this website about blockchains in the future.

Now NFTs can literally be anything - digital art, music, words, videos, physical land - it doesn’t matter, as long as it is stored and verified somewhere on a blockchain. Whilst the current trend is certainly mainly around digital art, I believe we are going to start to see this space develop as more use cases for this technology and I will touch on some of these use cases later in the article.

So these profile pictures you see people sporting all over Twitter? There is only one of those exact images that is ‘verified’. And that is what an NFT is.

Can’t I Just Save the Image?

One popular argument against NFTs is that you can save the image, which of course is right. But as explained above, they are never going to be the ‘original’.

Really this is no different to owning a print of a famous painting. But also perhaps more relatably it is also no different to owning a fake item of designer clothing. Perhaps no one will know for sure if it is fake or real, and really there is no way of telling. But with NFT’s there is always going to be a way of telling officially who is the real owner of an item.

As I mention later in the article, there are sometimes extra benefits that come with owning an NFT, that a right click and a ‘Save Image As’ just won’t cut.