Understanding NFTs and Why We Need Push Notifications on NFT Marketplaces

Conversations about cryptocurrencies and blockchains are finally making it to dinner tables. Multiple factors such as the involvement of institutional investors, the spiking prices of cryptos, and the evolution of DeFi are majorly impacting the adoption. The latest in the series of things taking crypto to greater heights is the popularity of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

NFTs are now everywhere, from art to digital collectibles and real estate to gaming. In March alone, users spent over $440 million on these tokens across various NFT platforms. Just yesterday Twitter announced 140 NFT drop 🤯

So, what exactly are NFTs?

What are NFTs?

The term “fungible” is used to identify items that can easily replace or be replaced by other identical items without any change in value. Going by this, we can say fiat currencies such as the dollar or cryptos such as Bitcoin and Ether are fungible items or tokens.

For example, you can easily exchange one Bitcoin for another Bitcoin without any change in value. You can also do the same with a dollar. Or, you may exchange a $100 bill with 20 bills of $5. This means a Bitcoin or a dollar bill does not have anything particularly unique that sets them apart from other Bitcoins or dollar bills. Thus, they are fungible items.

Now, consider an art piece by Picasso. Can you replace the original art piece with any other art representing the exact same details and value? Not really. Sure, you may recreate the painting, but there will only ever be one original artwork that will always possess a unique value. This characteristic not only makes Picasso’s artwork but every artwork by every artist non-fungible as they’re each unique in their own way.

Even your house is non-fungible. You may buy a new house or exchange your house with that of your friend’s, but you are not entirely replacing it with the new house. Why? Because the location of the new house, its design, the number of rooms, and so many other details of it will be completely different from your existing one.

We can go further with examples of unique and rare items that are non-fungible. Music albums, in-game accessories, digital and real collectibles, and so on. And when we take these non-fungible items and represent their uniqueness through blockchain-based digital tokens pegged to the items, they become non-fungible tokens.

What’s All the Hype Around NFTs?

The fad around NFTs is fuelled by two distinct reasons. The first is the technical excellence they offer to the art, gaming, music, real estate, and so many other industries. The second is that many renowned artists, celebrities, tech entrepreneurs, and business owners have joined the NFT bandwagon. Let’s look into both.

The fact that NFTs are stored on a blockchain makes them extremely secure. If you own the NFT pegged to a Picasso, you actually have the proof-of-ownership of the painting that is based on a blockchain. And blockchains are cryptographically secure, distributed ledgers that make it next to impossible for anyone to tamper with a record stored on it. This means, no one can hack a blockchain to steal your NFT or tamper with it.

Additionally, blockchains are also transparent, public ledgers, and all records are publicly available. So you can easily check who has previously owned the NFT of the Picasso painting and verify its authenticity. This has the potential to curb the sale of counterfeit products in the art and luxury goods industries, which currently cuts losses worth billions of dollars annually.

But that’s certainly not it. Famous people from digital artists like Beeple to technologists like Elon Musk and entrepreneurs like Jack Dorsey are all now involved in the world of NFTs.

Recently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey put his first-ever tweet from 2006 up for sale as an NFT. The NFT of the tweet that reads “just setting up my twttr” was sold for $2.9 million. Even Elon Musk created an animated music video about NFTs with an NFT song that he intended to sell as an NFT. He received bids worth millions of dollars but later ditched the idea of selling it.

If all that makes your jaw drop, wait for the biggest one.

The NFT of a digital art piece by Mike Winkelmann, famously known as Beeple, recently sold for over $69 million. It was a collage of 5,000 of the digital artworks that he had posted online daily since 2013. The sale made it the third most expensive artwork ever sold by a living artist.

As you read this, celebrities are creating NFTs of their own. NBA already has NFTs that bring basketball to the world of blockchain. And yet, it only feels like the start… a massive one.

Bringing Push Notifications to NFT Marketplaces

There are two popular ways you can get your hands on NFTs — centralized and decentralized marketplaces. One of the most popular centralized marketplaces is Nifty Gateway. It makes the process easy by allowing you to use your credit card to purchase NFTs. But as with all things centralized, it is exposed to cyber threats, which is quite evident after the recent hack of the platform.

So, your safest bet is a decentralized NFT marketplace like OpenSea, where you truly own the NFTs you buy. And as they are decentralized, no one can really hack them or exploit your account unless you somehow compromise the private keys and passwords to your wallet.

However, like mobile applications from the early days of smartphones, these marketplaces still do not have push notifications. Now, suppose you use OpenSea to buy and trade NFTs. Of course, you would love to stay updated about the latest NFT sales and new NFT listings. Maybe, when you put an NFT up for sale, you would want to be notified when it gets a new bidder. The scenarios for the use of push notifications are endless.

Sadly, decentralized platforms today cannot send push notifications to keep you notified of the latest events. That, however, changes with Ethereum Push Notification Service or EPNS. EPNS not only enables decentralized applications and services to send push notifications to their users but also incentivizes the entire process for users. This creates a win-win situation for everyone in the ecosystem.

As we move further deep into the world of NFTs and decentralized marketplaces become a common hangout place for NFT fans, push notifications will become inevitable. And as that happens, we are sure EPNS will be able to effectively solve the challenge at hand.

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Shittu Olumide Ayodeji

Shittu Olumide Ayodeji

A Developer and Designer

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