The collectors of “NFT”, technophiles pioneers of a new “far west”

They are passionate about technology, looking for opportunities in the “far west” that are the “NFT”: these certified digital objects, very fashionable, have given rise to a new generation of collectors convinced of their potential.

Brandon Kang, 25-year-old videographer, started buying NFTs last December, and already owns more than 500. In February, this Californian even spent $ 50,000 for “Reflection”, a digital work by the music artist. Electronic Feed Me.

In his collection: digital drawings of monkey heads (Bored Ape), a can or a cube, or the animation of a car speeding on a road, all created by artists unknown to the greatest number.

They are displayed on screens at his home. With a few exceptions, he has no intention of selling.

Mr. Kang has converted many of his relatives. “The thing they think is cool is being able to verify ownership of these NFTs,” he says.

Non-fungible tokens, or non-fungible tokens, are certificates of ownership of a digital object – image, drawing, video, animation, text file or sound.

Confidential until 2020, the NFTs generated, over the first five months of 2021, nearly $ 2.5 billion in transactions, an estimate based on figures from the specialized site NonFungible. The big auction houses now sell them regularly, as is the case at Sotheby’s until June 10.

The traceability of NFTs was decisive for Brandon Kang, who has long been invested in cryptocurrencies, which use the same blockchain technology as NFTs. Previously, “there was no way to prove that you really owned digital objects,” he explains.

– “Not easy to digest” –

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This same guarantee of authenticity has pushed Devan Mitchem, a computer engineer based in Singapore, to collect digital objects, after having stayed away from them for lack of “stable formats, exchange platforms and storage possibilities”.

With the emergence of sites like OpenSea or Nifty Gateway, which allow artists to sell their works directly, then collectors to buy, store and resell them, the world of NFTs now offers ease of use close to stock market investments. .

Devan Mitchem, who works at Google Cloud and specializes in blockchain, has accumulated over 200 NFTs. Like Brandon Kang, he has no plans to sell.

“It’s risky, but I have the feeling that works created between 2017 and 2021 will remain as from the founding period of this new category,” he says. “This era will have a place of its own in future collections.”

Computer engineer, Pankaj Patil separated, in 2020, from some of the 150 digital objects he had collected, because he doubted the future of NFTs. Today bitten, this New Jersey resident “regrets most of the sales”, even if he recognizes that “this environment is not easy to digest for everyone”.

“I fully understand the skepticism”, abounds Devan Mitchem, because “there are many things to be apprehended”.

For enthusiasts, Mr. Mitchem suggests learning about blockchain technology first. “It’s still pretty much the wild west,” admits the engineer, “but it’s also a land of opportunity.”

Mr. Kang warns internet users looking for easy money who don’t take the time to learn. “They are the ones who are most at risk of being plucked,” he said.

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For him, the recent market correction, which has seen a drop in average prices and the number of transactions, does not affect the outlook for NFTs in any way.

“The industry is maturing and in the long term, it’s a good thing to evacuate people who are only there for profit,” he pleads.

Devan Mitchem says he is, like many others, genuinely drawn to the artistic merit of many emerging digital creators, where the general public often sees NFTs as a fad, a gimmick, or even a scam.

He speaks with passion of “Picasso’s Bull”, cubist representation of a bull by the multi-media artist Trevor Jones, bought for 23,000 dollars, “a flagship work”, according to him.

Often programmers, collectors of NFT, mostly men, are also attracted by the constant innovation of this medium.

They envision a universe in which NFTs will be able to travel between platforms, sites and virtual universes, going beyond the possibilities of the physical world.

They also underline that the community has undertaken to improve its carbon footprint, which is currently catastrophic, in particular with the gradual establishment of protocols for the creation of NFTs and cryptocurrencies that consume less energy.

Devan Mitchem believes so much in NFT that he already imagines the very disappearance of the term, with the ultra-trivialization of this technology. “They will just be digital objects,” he says.


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