In the last two or three years, NFTs have exploded in our collective consciousness. They have become so popular that it’s almost a status symbol to own them. For believers in NFT and the blockchain as a whole, this interest is a sign of great things to come. However, for others, NFTs are simply a fad like the dot com bubble, the tulip affair, or Beanie Babies.
People who think NFTs are merely a bubble often back up their arguments by pointing out their lack of utility. They argue that NFTs are merely interesting pictures or crude drawings that could be saved on any browser phone.
However, that’s only true if you are only familiar with the popular use cases of NFTs. Some of these popular use cases include digital art and gaming. There are also a plethora of applications they could be used for in the metaverse. But those aren’t the only ways of using NFTs. In this article, we’ll be going over some of the more interesting use cases for NFTs you might have never heard of.
By now, most people understand that a substantial portion of NFTs are mere marketing spoofs. But what they don’t realize is that marketing can also be the end for NFTs, not just the means.
Brands all around the world are learning that NFTs do not have to be created by pseudonymous identities on the internet. They can also be created by brands and could help those brands market their services and goods.
NFTs are efficient at marketing because they provide a personalized experience to customers, ensure brand loyalty and identity, and serve as a means for attraction. These tokens are especially useful for youth-centric brands. By releasing an NFT collection, the brand isn’t only releasing art, it’s also releasing something that will drive the interests of young people.
NFTs also have huge potential in academia. According to academics like Beau Brannan, NFTs could be used to award scores to students. These scores would contain information about the courses they passed and about the students themselves. They could also be displayed online for prospective employees.
However, these NFTs will have no monetary value and will not be transferable. Of course, one could argue that this is a bit of an overkill, as there’s no need to involve the blockchain in scorekeeping. But that may be missing the point of NFTs in general. For Brannan and other teachers like him, it’s not strictly about money or profit. Instead, it’s about piquing the interests of students and having a bit of fun as a class. It’s also about creating a permanent record that can be reviewed by anyone, at any time, no matter what. That’s the true strength of NFTs—the immutability they have.
Another interesting use case for NFTs is through textbooks. If all textbooks are put on the blockchain, piracy may simply die off overnight. This will also allow academics to collect royalties on every book sold—forever.
People wouldn’t ordinarily think of healthcare when they talk about NFTs. But that doesn’t mean NFTs can’t massively improve the quality of healthcare delivery that patients enjoy.
Healthcare providers routinely share confidential patient information with third parties. This might not sit well with many people, but there’s very little that can be done to stop it from happening. Even if laws are passed, providers can simply ignore it and share the information regardless.
That is why NFTs could be useful in the health sector. At its core, NFTs are an information tracking technology. For patients with confidential medical information, NFTs could be a literal lifesaver. If patient information is filled and minted as an NFT, it would be almost impossible to share that information with anyone else. Of course, it’s still possible to write down the information and transmit it, but that definitely cannot be done at scale.
The interesting thing about this use case is that this information can also be a source of earnings for patients. Patients will not only be able to control their information, but also be able to earn with it. This could even go into covering a part of their hospital costs in the first place. The difference between this system and our established conventions is that patients will truly have the choice of what to do with their information.
While NFTs are yet to take over the healthcare space, there are many signs that this could soon be a reality. Some startups, for example, are already exploring a world where patients own their data completely. Aimedis, for example, is building a robust virtual marketplace where people can trade their medical data.
4. Land Registry
One of the most interesting use cases for NFTs is how they can be applied to property ownership. Some people say that NFTs can solve the primary problem of real estate, which is theft.
The ownership certificate of buildings and land is a piece of paper, but since paper can be copied, it’s not completely safe. Asides from that, countless dubious characters have made a career out of using fake real estate documents to acquire investments. NFTs, if adopted industry-wide, will put a stop to this for good. For example, if the deed of the property exists on the blockchain, there would be no arguments over who owns what.
Another way NFTs could completely change the real estate industry is through decentralization. The blockchain is a peer-to-peer network, which means that people may not require dedicated third parties to complete a transaction. This would save clients even more money in the long run and would make the system more resilient and efficient.
Lastly, NFTs can introduce a new level of transparency to real estate deals. Under the current system, we invariably encounter bottlenecks when accessing important data. However, if everything is stored on the blockchain as NFTs, this frustrating obstacle will immediately disappear.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many companies exploring all these avenues right now. But NFTs only became popular a few years ago, and like all new tech, they remain in development. Over the next few years, we ought to see startups taking full advantage of the real estate potential of NFTs.
5. Virtual Fashion
One of the most underrated use cases for NFTs is fashion. There’s something deeply ironic about this, as the people who created NFTs likely never contemplated their implications for the industry. But, somehow, fashion is now one of the most promising use cases for NFTs.
NFTs are digital assets, but one way they could be repurposed is as articles of clothing. People don’t just want to look at their NFTs, they also want to wear them. Conversely, people don’t just want to purchase an item—they also want to own it as an NFT.
One of the ways fashion brands can accomplish this is through augmented reality clothing. AR clothing is an interesting concept that makes creative use of NFTs and fashion well. As the name implies, AR NFTs are digital creations that can be superimposed over a camera on a person. It works somewhat like a filter. And this isn’t just some theoretical idea either. While there are still some tech kinks to sort out, brands like Lacoste, Boohoo, DRESSX, and XR Couture have started selling luxury digital garments that customers can don virtually.
The next question, of course, is where these garments can be worn. Zoom and Google calls are usually in portrait mode, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone appreciating an expensive NFT attire in a work meeting. That’s why these outfits will be worn in the perfect place for people to appreciate them: the metaverse.
The good thing about this is that the metaverse is growing faster than we imagine. Blockchain-backed worlds like Decentraland and The Sandbox are growing every day. There has even been an inaugural metaverse fashion week hosted by the former. The show had about seventy fashion brands in attendance, with heavyweights like Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, and Karl Lagerfeld participating and making their own NFT collections.
Asides from virtual outfits and virtual fashion weeks, fashion brands have also been looking into creating virtual stores. These stores will be built in the metaverse and will sell the different digital garments manufactured by the brand. Again, this isn’t a theoretical use case. Companies like Gucci and Selfridge, for example, have already built these virtual stores in the metaverse.
And lastly, fashion brands are already using NFTs to connect with their customers differently. NFTs can be used to create exclusive content that can give customers an even more dynamic experience.
Why You Should Care
The next few years will potentially see the dizzying growth of NFTs, and it’s important to understand how they can be used when making wise investment decisions.
On the Flipside
- These use cases may be unpopular because they aren’t fully fleshed out yet.
- It may take a long while for NFTs to truly become useful in the industries listed above.
NFTs are an exciting technology because they can be applied in so many diverse ways. As more development goes into them, we’ll almost certainly see even more innovative uses for them. While we may be in a 2022 bear market, the future of NFTs seems just as bright as ever.