What Is An NFT?

This question has been cropping up all over Twitter, in conversation, and was even the first question that came up when I started typing into YouTube. So what is an NFT, is this going to be similar to the Dot Com Bubble or the Tulip Mania in 1634? (Yes, this is where Dutch people thought that tulips were super cool, so much so to the point that a tulip bulb could cost 10 times the annual income of a skilled worker.) Let’s dive a little deeper into the internet’s latest craze.

Let’s start with the basics- NFT stands for ‘Non-Fungible Token’. To be honest, the word ‘fungible’ was one that stood out to me, not because I like that word, but because its definition is so specific and complicated that it’s easier to just say ‘replaceable’. Essentially, this means that an NFT is unique, one-of-a-kind, like the Mona Lisa or the Venus De Milo. An NFT is unlike any other. The T, token, is all to do with blockchain. Essentially, blockchain is a public record of transactions; so if one person makes a transaction, everyone else can see it, and it’s almost impossible to change, hack or cheat the system. This kind of technology has become very popular as peoples’ mistrust of centralised banks increases.

This is all well and good, but what do all these concepts have to do with GIFs? Or random pictures online? In theory, this all boils down to human psychology. Who decided that gold was valuable? Or paper money, or fine art, or….anything for that matter? If a large enough group of people decides that something is of value, then it becomes so. A large group of people basically decided that things online (tweets, pictures, music, highlights of an NBA game, you name it) are valuable enough to have a numeric value to them. But, how can someone buy something that doesn’t tangibly exist? Well, with blockchain, we have the technology to be able to put these purchases on public record, so that no one can dispute that a specific person has bought a specific image, or whatever it may be.

Does anyone remember Nyan Cat? That strange little GIF way back when Myspace was a thing? It’s a GIF of a pixelated flying rainbow cat? Well, in February, Nyan Cat’s creator Chris Torres sold the NFT version for roughly $580,000 USD. This was the first ever meme to be sold as an NFT, and I think it does mark a new era where digital artists can have the same recognition as normal ones.

And I know that all this may seem ridiculous to some, ‘how can you own something that doesn’t exist’, but the reality is that our world is now moving online. Back in the 90s, the internet was taking off; people would never have imagined that all our banking can be done online, we can send people money via our phones or that we wouldn’t need a physical credit card or cash to make payments. Isn’t that the same as us thinking that NFTs aren’t real? Money is no longer just tangible cash or card- it’s a figure on our computer screen. So I think it’s only natural for the world of investments to head in this direction. I think that the stage our world is at with NFTs, is the stage we were with the internet in the 90s. It’s a hype right now, the new technology is exciting. But, will it crash or burst like the Dot Com Bubble, the Real Estate Bubble or Tulip Mania? Is this all a fad that will burn out- the brightest star burns quickest…will that be the same for NFTs?

The Pros and Cons of Crypto!

Cryptocurrency….the buzz word that is on everyone’s lips. Cryptocurrency gained popularity a few years ago, but since the pandemic more and more people are interested and wanting to know more on how to earn some money with crypto.

But, is investing in crypto for you? Cryptocurrency is, in short, a digital or virtual currency, which are mostly decentralised and based on blockchain technology. There are many reasons why people use and invest in different coins. Here is a list of some pros and cons of crypto, so that you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to go ahead and buy!

Pros

Transparency

This may be the top reason why people want to invest in cyrpto; cryptocurrency offers much more potential for societal change. All digital currency transactions are stored on the blockchain. This means the data is available for anyone to view at any time. For those who want more transparency in the banking system, this is a very big plus.

Instant Accessibility

There are so many platforms to access digital currencies, such as Binance, Coinbase and Bisq, meaning that you can sell and buy crypto anytime, anywhere. This means that users can make financial decisions in real time, instead of missing a trend because they’re not near a computer. This also means that digital currency is available to everyone, not just investment bankers. For those who want a piece of the pie, but don’t want the fat cats to get any of their money, cryptocurrency is a great option.

Potential of High Returns

From 2016 to December 2020, Bitcoin in USD has compounded at an annualised growth rate of 131.5%. In comparison, the S&P 500 index of large cap US equities has compounded at an annualised growth rate of 14.5%. Clearly, the potential to gain on a crypto investment is a lot higher than traditional investment methods.

Cons

Potential of High Losses and Volatility

With high returns comes higher risk. The maximum monthly bitcoin return over the 60 months to end December 2020 was 76.1% and the minimum -37.6%. This shows that users will have to constantly check on their coins- as just as quickly can they make a massive profit, then can also plummet at the same rate. Users have to be able to time the market correctly to avoid major losses. This means that a lot of knowledge and research is needed before hand. Not only this, cryptocurrency aims to be used like you would a dollar. Imagine if you bought a coffee for $4 one day, and the next day the same cup of coffee cost $36…would you buy it? This extreme volatility means that it seems unlikely that crypto will be able to be used as actual currency anytime soon.

Legal Status

The legality of cryptocurrency varies country to country. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, India, Bolivia and Algeria have all banned the use of crypto. There are many reasons why a country would ban digital currency; cryptocurrency cannot be regulated by the government. If a country wants to maintain financial control, of course they would want to ban it. Because of the anonymity of crypto (more on this later), it can be used as a method of money laundering or tax evasion, which is why some countries ban the use. Laws around digital currency are ever changing, which means that one day it could become illegal in your country, and all that money that you’ve made could be inaccessible.

Ethical Issues

Because cryptocurrencies have no official oversight or regulation, they are wide open to being exploited by criminals as a means to scam unwary investors. A 2019 study showed that 46% of bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity. Not only this, it has been proven that crypto is quite detrimental to the environment. Cryptocurrency blocks are added to the blockchains through crypto mining, where high-powered computers solve intricate mathematical puzzles. This technology takes a lot of energy to power these computers. Mining bitcoin now consumes more energy per year than the whole country of Argentina. Bitcoin’s emissions could increase the Earth’s temperature by 2 degrees. This brings to question the sustainability of this industry.

There are of course many more pros and cons to cryptocurrency, but there are too many to mention. Of course, if you want to know more about investing in cryptocurrency, please do your own research.

What are your opinions on cryptocurrency?