WTF = What the Fungible

Digital collectibles are here
February 5, 2021

Note: The Age of Fractional Ownership is a theme in our newest report, Vision 2021: 10 Future Trends that Will Shape the Future of Commerce. The trendline is clear — ownership is becoming more and more ephemeral, and digital product ownership is a concept that may be new today but will be commonplace in the near-future.

I was half-asleep in bed last night when I got a notification from NBA Top Shop that a “drop” was happening in their online store. It was 10 pm, and I’m old, so give me a break. Top Shop is a new kind of digital collectible, the ones-and-zeroes equivalent of a pack of trading cards. Collectible trading cards have come back into fashion in recent years with vertical resale marketplaces like StockX bringing the competition to papa eBay.

Being that I’m an old man, the idea of a digital collectible is funny to me. Collectibles only have value if they’re scarce, after all, and how can anything that is digital be scarce? Nevermind, I signed in and waited for the countdown and queue to begin. I’m used to queuing for purchases these days because I’m a sneakerhead, and I figured that with 25,000 units “available”. I bought one, the process was wrought with frustration, but that’s a story for another time. In short, I now “own” three clips from the NBA 2020 season that are video highlights. I own the clips as a digital collectible, and I can sell them for a price on a secondary marketplace that the NBA has set up. Right now at least one of the clips from my $9-and-change-retail-price digital pack is reselling for $8.00. That’s pretty interesting.

The technology behind this is the blockchain—specifically Ethereum—and a chain of authority and ownership characterized as “NFT”. If you haven’t heard of NFTs yet, you will. Non-Fungible Tokens are a really nerdy concept that has the same basic premise that Bitcoin does, but instead of representing monetary value, the NBA has tied it to digital “moments” that they are selling en masse to fans. 

Hashmasks is another NFT-enabled newsmaker this week. Like its predecessor CrytpoKitties, Hashmasks focuses on one-of-a-kind ownership of procedurally generated art. While you can view the art digitally just about anywhere, owning it and the right to transfer it has a potentially valuable future that is uncertain at the moment, but the winds of change seem to be blowing in the direction of digital ownership.

More on NFTs to come, but if you want to read more about the concept of fractional ownership and its potential effects on consumer culture and expectations, check out our newest report.

— Phillip

Metaverse: In the typical spirit of domination across all manner of competition, America has extended our recruitment offerings for elite athletes into the realm of eSports. Professional gamers from South Korea and Taiwan have been offered hefty salaries to come play for the U.S. and try to win our first world championship title. And who wouldn’t want to come play for us, when they are making up to $500,000 more than they would in their home country?

Apple: Together with Hyundai-Kia, they have almost finalized a deal to manufacture an autonomous electric vehicle. Neither company will comment, but multiple other sources have confirmed that production will begin at a Kia plant in Georgia, possibly as soon as 2024. Wonder if you’ll have to plug the car in upside down? 

BoConcept, a modular furniture retailer out of Denmark, pivoted from their brick-and-mortar focused showroom business model in just two weeks to keep up with pandemic restrictions. They went virtual and made their website a place where at-home shoppers can see the products they want to purchase in a 3D space before purchasing. This combined with the ability to chat with their sales associates who are highly trained in design has been a winning move for the company.

Uber Eats… er.. Drinks… Er. Yeah. The company that started out as a human transportation service, is branching out again. They will be acquiring Drizly, an alcohol delivery service, sometime early this year.

Get your peanut M&M’s and a Covid test, all from vending machines! Wellness 4 Humanity is making this possible in airports, hotels, and beyond. Oakland International Airport is the first of many to carry these Covid test vending machines, and this comes at a perfect time, as the CDC is considering making a negative Covid-19 test a prerequisite for flyers.

No entry fee, no training, no problem. This TikToker's fake “marathon” has more signups than the Boston Marathon, and is bringing a small amount of camaraderie and humor during a time when people really need it, as well as raising money for charity. And all of it is completely free of running.

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