Of late, the terms ‘NFT’ and ‘Metaverse’ have been much talked about worldwide. The novelty of these concepts has inspired debate as many are trying to understand them. Governments have also been part of the discussion as they grapple with the likely need to regulate these technologies.
An NFT (which stands for ‘non-fungible token’) is anything digital – such as an artwork, piece of music, avatar, image, etc. – that is uniquely identifiable and can be sold or traded. NFT data are stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, thus giving the owner of the NFT sole ownership of it and differentiating it from any digital replicas.
Due to their nature, NFTs are gaining significance in the Metaverse, which is essentially a network of virtual 3D worlds created for social connection purposes. The Metaverse serves as a platform for owners of NFTs to showcase their collections and build communities around them. Within the Metaverse, NFT avatars will also become important as they will be used as an individual\’s digital identity in the fast-evolving virtual world.
NFT avatars, which are uniquely created avatars, are in high demand and collectors are quick to purchase them, especially those deemed rare and valuable. The authenticity and ownership of these avatars can be verified through the blockchain, and communities have been built around these NFT collections, with special privileges being awarded in the virtual world to those who own specific avatars. For some purchasers, these NFT avatars are considered digital assets that they can later sell at a profit.
NFT adoption is rapidly increasing in Asia, with several countries topping the list for the highest NFT adoption rates. A recent piece of research revealed that the Philippines has the highest proportion of people who own NFTs, at 32% of those polled, followed by Thailand, Malaysia, and, in fifth place, Vietnam. These statistics indicate the rising trends surrounding NFTs and the Metaverse in the region.
Last month, a couple from Tamil Nadu in India decided to hold their Harry Potter-themed wedding virtually in the Metaverse, making it Asia\’s first Metaverse wedding. GuardianLink.io, an NFT ecosystem technology framework, launched the first ever Metaverse wedding NFT collection, which featured artwork with backgrounds and outfits from Harry Potter and cyberpunk, and also featuring classic wedding attire. Included in this collection of NFTs were avatars of the bride and groom and the bride\’s late father. The NFT collection was sold and traded within fractions of a second of the platform launching them. An NFT of an invitation was traded for $4,500, almost 400 times its initial price.
In Indonesia, famous singer and influencer Syahrini, who has a social media following of 38.3 million, announced a Metaverse tour sold in the form of NFTs, and within hours they were sold out. The 18,000 NFTs launched were sold in three pricing and exclusivity tiers, similar to how artists sell concert tickets. These NFTs will give owners access to Syahrini\’s Metaverse concert – a new experience for many.
The NFT uptake rate in Asia is growing positively and has been met with much enthusiasm. The intricate relationship between NFTs and the Metaverse will allow more Asians to adopt NFTs. Beyond serving as a personal collection, they will enable many to gain access to an additional source of income. This unique synergy is set to see significant growth across Asia and beyond as the world shifts to embrace a virtual world.
This article was first published in the Q1 2022 edition of Asia Research Media