NFTs, speculative bubble or the finance of the future?

If you’re ready to buy the first text message in history for 107,000 euros or the first tweet from Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, for 2.4 million, then you’re one of the 2% of French people who have chosen to invest in NFTmainly young people, according to a study by Adan (Association for the Development of Digital Assets).

For everyone else, these three mysterious letters mean “Non-fungible token“or non-fungible (unique) tokens. These are digital files (photos, videos, messages, audio files, etc.) to which a certificate of authenticity stored in the blockchain is attached. Not to be confused with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether, which are mainly used for to buy these NFTs.

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In 2014, artist and co-founder of Monegraph platform Kevin MacCoy tweeted about the transfer of ownership of one of his digital works via Readymade NFT software. But it was in 2017 that hype around these tokens explode with CryptoKitties (virtual cats) considered the first real NFTs. The collection of CryptoPunks, small characters used as avatars by stars like Snoop Dog or Jay Z, has reached the sum of 1.6 billion. of dollars. Hence the recurring accusation of a speculative bubble associated with these digital files. Jérôme de Tychey, founder of Cometh, a game based on blockchain and NFTs and president of Ethereum France, is a staunch defender of these non-fungible tokens.

Long live the NFTs, which offer a new medium for artistic expression, which has spawned a first unicorn made in France with Sorare (publisher of virtual cards for football players who raised $ 680 million in September 2021 Ed), and whose interoperability they allows offers a new perspective for networking! ” he exclaimed on stage at the Grand Rex. Gilles Cadignan, founder and president of Woleet, a solution for certifying business documents using the Bitcoin protocol, shares far from this enthusiasm: “These three letters are like a spell. When we pronounce them, we are immediately in vogue. But remember the ICOs (fundraising in cryptocurrencies) in 2018 that were supposed to revolutionize the financing of startups. It is 2022 and no one is doing ICOs. ‘is longer … “.

Speculation reserved for insiders

To Gilles Cadignan, NFTs are clearly a scam designed to suck money from “ gullible people ” by ” smart guys surfing on this new wave. A wave which, according to him, has already subsided: ” it is now necessary to place oneself on the new technological hand spinner (spinning top), which is DAO “. DAO (Decentralized autonomous organization) is a decentralized organization whose governance rules are automated and invariably registered in a blockchain, a kind of decentralized venture capital fund. For him this hysteria around NFTs leading to excesses and fraud, such as “wash trade “or the fact of buying back his own works to raise the price.

“It certainly exists. But it’s done transparently on the blockchain” temperament Jerome of Tychey. NFT technology has nevertheless made it possible to secure the exchange of these tokens, which represent works or other files. “Is it really disturbing? Not really. The classical art market and the NFT market are still separate,” insists Gilles Cadignan. Will the fashion effect soon collapse, as the founder of Woleet prophesies?

“For the Panini vignettes of the 70s, the principle was the same: twenty years later, they were worth much more. A nostalgia effect that also worked for MoonCats, an ancestor of CryptoKitties, who recently experienced a revival “ answers Jerome of Tychey. The stratospheric valuations of NFTs raise questions and fascinate at the same time. The digital collage “Weekdays: The first 5000 days” by artist Beeple sold for $ 69 million, more than a Jellyfish or a Picasso.

Should we engage in this kind of speculation? “I would not risk it. It is an incipient market, but craze has created a greed that attracts unreliable players. Better to play on our video games and accumulate NFTs for free” suggests Jerome of Tychey. Gilles Cadignan adds: “You have to be very careful. We have the right to love a crust, including digital, but we must not hope to sell it a hundred times more expensive. Only insiders can achieve this.”. Free warning for digital gold diggers.

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WATCH the entire Think Tech Summit and debate (6:03 p.m.)