In the early days of the internet, launching a website was hard. Unless you knew how to code a site from scratch or were prepared to fork over for one of the closed-source content management systems, there were few routes to getting an online presence. But in the early 2000s, WordPress launched its open-source content management system, allowing anyone to build their own website from scratch and opening the doors to a flood of developers for its plugin libraries. Today, WordPress powers a staggering 40% of all websites.
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In their current state, NFTs are analogous to those early days of the internet. Many proponents cite them as being the future of the internet of value, but the fact is that currently, the potential of NFTs is hampered. It requires a certain degree of expertise to mint them, and the markets are too illiquid. Not to mention that use cases such as the legal enforcement of copyright aren’t yet possible. People don’t really understand the difference between the digital token and the digital object, whether it’s art, or an in-game item, or the deeds to a piece of real estate. Effectively, NFTs need a content management system.
Can Unifty Do for NFTs What WordPress Did for Blogging?
Unifty is a platform that sees the opportunity for NFT as much broader than just artwork and games but can be viewed as a data structure with files, legal rights, and a community around the token. Managed properly, NFT use cases can extend to financial agreements, intellectual property, or even entire companies.
Unifty’s goal upon launch was to address the lack of tools to organize and manage NFTs at realistic pricing while offering true decentralization. The concept of the project is two-fold. The first is providing tools for NFT creators that enable them to compete without needing to code and spend a lot of money on development. But there is also a second more philosophical aspect: they want every artist and creator to benefit directly from using the technology that they provide.
In Conversation with Colin Platt
Unifty’s CEO Colin Platt is a crypto veteran, having become part of the Ethereum community in 2014 and eventually abandoning his career at French investment bank BNP Paribas to join the space full-time. His endeavors even attracted some colorful coverage from the notoriously crypto-skeptical FT. We took some time out with Colin to discuss Unifty’s role in the burgeoning NFT space and his thoughts about regulation and crypto’s continuing green debate.
Unifty was founded in recognition of the fact that the NFT sector is evolving very quickly. Platt starts off by explaining how the project aims to solve some of crypto’s legacy problems.
“As is often the case with blockchain-based projects, platforms can often become siloed and leave users tied to single solutions, marketplaces, or single chains. Unifty changes this by being 100% chain agnostic and completely comprehensive in its scope. Tools and services such as the NFT wallet, asset manager, farm builder, and marketplace builder allow pretty much anyone to get going and build whatever they want on their favorite chain.”
That all sounds fine and like good news for the NFT markets and users, but how does this compare to WordPress? Platt elaborates further on how as an open-source, decentralized platform, Unifty is offering something different to would-be creators.
“Unifty greatly simplifies the process of building and managing NFT dApps, and enables creators of all kinds to get to grips with NFTs. As a no-code platform, Unifty is easy to use and allows creators to focus on their strengths and not get bogged down in learning code.”
Building the Ownership Economy
So the comparison to WordPress is becoming more evident. But Platt believes that NFTs have even more significant potential than even the internet itself, by virtue of the fact that they create an “ownership economy.” He breaks it down:
“A decentralized platform like Unifty keeps creators in full ownership of their creations. The value of this autonomy is not yet widely understood, but it couldn’t be more critical. If you build with a closed solution, like most websites that are dependent on centralized hosts, and they become compromised in any way or go out of business, all of your time and investment could be lost. All users remain directly in control of all the revenues generated from their work.”
So he believes the decentralized element is the most powerful element in allowing creators to retain true control over their content. It’s a significant draw for any influencers who’ve suddenly found themselves consumed by panic when they’re unable to access their YouTube or Instagram accounts.
Crypto’s Ongoing Push to Become Greener
Earlier this year, when NFTs initially began to break out of their crypto niche, a row broke out between climate-conscious artists and the Ethereum community regarding the heavy carbon footprint of the platform’s energy-intensive proof of work consensus model. What’s Platt’s take on the crypto green debate?
“I believe that this is ultimately a consumer choice issue. There is now a range of blockchain platforms available to users, including several which are not based on Proof-of-Work (PoW). Users, therefore, have the choice to use these arguably more energy-efficient alternatives and not send transactions to blockchains which are based on PoW mining.”
Is Regulation a Threat?
Another ongoing discussion regarding NFTs, as in the broader crypto space, is regulation. Does Platt see this as a threat to a relatively new yet fast-growing segment?
“Regulation is certainly possible – we can already see regulators beginning to hone in on DeFi. However, NFTs as unique assets are well-equipped to support and integrate with more traditional forms of commercial operation, with regards to copyrights, buying and selling assets, and the ownership economy, in general.”
So NFTs could actually be used by regulators in some capacity? Is this the yet-to-be-realized use case around NFTs helping to enforce digital copyrights? Platt explains:
“Yes, that’s a part of it. NFTs are the first tool to create true digital ownership in a manner that is beyond refute, so there’s a clear argument for introducing them in the enforcement of existing laws and legal frameworks. But beyond that, NFTs are the perfect tool for eliminating rent takers such as centralized media platforms, which simply overcomplicate processes and payments for creators. Innovation is moving fast in this area, and it will be fascinating to see how this evolves over the next few years.”