The nonfungible token (NFT) sector has undergone a surge in popularity over the past year and a half as projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks captured the attention of the general public. While the idea of fetching a six-figure payday for the latest trending digital art piece has been a major factor in the attention placed on the sector, the truth is that the crypto industry has only scratched the surface of what NFT technology is capable of. Here’s a rundown of some of the next frontiers in the development of NFT technology that has the potential to make substantial changes in everyday life.
Medical records and identification
Medical records and identification documents are vital pieces of information that are easy to misplace and difficult to replace, even in the digital age. This is one area where NFT technology can offer a wide-ranging practical use case that most individuals in society can benefit from. Instead of leaving it up to large health institutions to record, manage and track an individual’s medical record, a unique NFT ledger that is assigned to each person can store all medical information while maintaining confidentiality and privacy. This would also allow a person to control what information is shared with a health provider when seeking treatment while keeping less relevant personal data private. It’s possible that one day this process will begin at birth with the issuance of an NFT birth certificate to newborns by a healthcare provider or government agency. This can also be the start of establishing a digital record of identification that can be tracked in NFT form. With digital forms of identification, individuals will be able to limit what information is shared when identifying information is required, such as an application that will verify if a person is over 21 without also revealing other information that is often included on IDs like a home address.
Real estate and asset tokenization
The tokenization of real estate and other real-world assets is, perhaps, one of the most wide-ranging and paradigm-shifting applications for NFT technology for the implications it has on numerous sectors. Aside from being a simple way to track and verify ownership of an item, the tokenization of assets will eventually allow them to be utilized in many of the various applications in decentralized finance (DeFi).Eventually, individuals will be able to use an NFT representing the deed to their house as collateral on a DeFi protocol that will allow them to borrow funds to put to use elsewhere in a similar manner as refinancing. The tokenization of larger items, such as a hotel or luxury yacht, also allows for fractionalized ownership, giving those who could not typically afford such an item a way to gain exposure to it. There’s no limit to what can be tokenized and tracked on a blockchain, and there is a good chance that all manner of assets, including stocks, bonds, artwork, rare collectibles and luxury items, will one day be represented in NFT form.
Intellectual property and patents
NFTs are ideal for tracking intellectual property (IP) and patents as they take the current system of trademarks and copyrights to the next level by offering a way to prove ownership of any piece of content. The data-keeping capabilities of blockchain technology allow for the entire history of a piece of IP to be tracked and timestamped, offering a way to provide undeniable ownership. Similarly, the data for a patent or invention can be recorded on a blockchain in NFT form, offering a way to protect and certify ownership.
Ticketing and rewards programs
One use case for NFTs that is already being explored and implemented in entertainment venues around the world is in the creation of tickets or passes to events. The ability to create an unlimited number of unique NFTs allows venues like concert halls and sports arenas to issue tickets for entry as NFTs that can be easily verified or transferred. The prevalence of smartphones across society has made digital ticketing possible, and the integration of NFT technology will help to make this process more efficient and easier to track. Companies can set up rewards programs where participants are given NFTs that are used to track purchases or activities within the organization for rewards purposes. Instead of issuing physical cards or tracking activity by phone number, which exposes an important piece of personal information, activities can be tracked via an NFT that is scanned without revealing any other information.
A final application of NFT technology is as a general utility token that performs a specific function like verifying membership to an exclusive club or providing access to a certain service. This is a function that is already being employed by a number of NFT projects where they have a website or Discord group that can only be accessed after verifying ownership of an NFT from that particular collection. The applications of this idea are wide-ranging and run the gamut, from content creators offering fans exclusive access to songs if they hold an NFT released by that musician to secret societies allowing rare NFT holders to access their sacred libraries.
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