The Roadmap for NFTs to Mainstream Adoption
In our past articles, we focused on some of the first NFT platforms, some questionable tokenomics NFT projects use, and new platforms that are helping evolve the NFT world into a scalable creator economy. In this article, we will dive deeper into how NFTs can gain mainstream adoption to sustainably grow.
Sports will help make NFTs Mainstream
NBA Top Shot
By now I’m sure you’ve heard of NBA Top Shot — but in case you haven’t, NBA Top Shot is an NFT platform where you can collect digital “moments”, which are short highlights of NBA game plays. You can buy packs of moments, similar to a pack of baseball cards. Some of the moments may be worth a lot, while most are just average. It is essentially a digitized and hugely popular set of collectible sports cards (but in this case, they’re video clips).
We just want to make it clear that all these NBA videos are available on YouTube for you to watch as you wish. And yet, these NFTs are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for the right to “own” it on the blockchain, which in most people’s minds trumps just watching or downloading the MP4 file. To understand why people value ownership so much, read our first article.
We think there are three big things going for Top Shot:
- It’s easy to use and designed with people who are unfamiliar with cryptocurrency in mind (ex: purchasing moments with credit cards)
- The NBA is the second-most-popular sport in America
- Purchasable Moments have a familiar real-life parallel: trading cards. Each Moment, a video clip of a specific play, comes with stats about the game it’s from, the player featured, and the history of past sale prices. And like trading cards, you can buy them in packs.
Sorare is a fantasy game of soccer, where players buy, sell, trade, and manage a virtual team with digital player cards.
The concept is very familiar to most people, especially for those who participate in the annual fantasy football competitions or the March Madness brackets. Sorare operates a fantasy football (soccer) collectible game that uses NFTs to ensure that the player’s card is unique. Sorare has signed 126 soccer clubs, including big names such as Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus.
In the last few months, Sorare says its volume has grown 52% per month. Back in January 2020, it was trading $60,000 worth of cards which increased to $4.2 million in January 2021.
Where NBA Top Shot purely focuses on collectability in typical sports card fashion, Sorare changes the game, allowing users to not only build their sports card collection, but also become ‘managers’ and use their cards to compete each week for rewards and prizes.
Prediction About the Future
It’s only a matter of time before the MLB, WWE, and other major sports franchises launch their own NFTs. Imagine being able to have the 1952 Mickey Mantle trading in a digital format? Or staking your NFTs to bet on the next WWE match? Sports will be one of the major channels that will make NFTs go mainstream, since there are many existing parallels including collectible baseball cards, fantasy sports, and sports betting, that can be recreated into more immersive experiences using NFTs. On top of how relatable the NFT + sports combination is, many sports superstars are massive influencers too. They can easily reach millions of people who have never heard of NFTs to join in on the digital phenomenon.
Million Dollar Ideas Related to NFTs
Now let’s shift gears from talking about how sports will help NFTs go mainstream, and talk about what else we need to get there. There are multiple angles we can think from, so we’ll focus on two.
Better User Experience
While not a problem unique to NFTs, but to the whole blockchain + DeFi space, a better user experience is crucial. Like any technology, you can think of the blockchain space as many layers stacking on top of each other.
You may have already heard of L1, L2, and how Ethereum needs to scale, so you know that people are actively talking about different layers. However, we believe that not enough conversation is going into the higher layers, those that are closest to the customer. That includes wallets (ex: Metamask), browser experiences, integration with existing financial systems, and more. Because all of this is lacking and the experience is clunky (especially with huge gas fees, long transaction wait times, and the general fear of cryptocurrencies), main adoption is super far. That being said, here are a few rough outlines for what we think will happen in the next few years:
Solutions that somehow abstract the seemingly “crypto” pieces away
We think that it’s still way too hard for a complete beginner to jump into buying crypto and using blockchain-based services, let alone buy an NFT. There are too many blockers for newcomers:
- Secure storage of secrets (what are seed phrases or private keys anyway?)
- Using MetaMask or similar wallets has a huge learning curve
- Knowing which coin to buy (too much noise)
- Moving money to MetaMask is scary (did I sent the right coin?)
- Accessing your wallet on desktop vs. mobile is not seamless
- Approving a smart contract to do anything (what am I signing?)
If we can have some seamless way to plug into existing services, say DashLane or Keychain accounts to store private keys across devices, or have ENS & wallet addresses tied to other social accounts so there’s less management, we think more people can join in on the space. We think that it will be impossible to completely get rid of some overhead of managing more things than what most people are used to given the decentralized nature of the blockchain, but it will be significantly easier to understand. This needs to happen to obtain mainstream adoption of DeFiand NFTs.
“Stripe” for Crypto + Credit Cards
If you don’t know what Stripe is, it is a “fully integrated suite of payments products that brings together everything that’s required to build websites and apps that accept payments and send payouts globally”. In simpler terms, it means it’s a great tool for any merchants, services, or practically anyone to accept payments online, without building the entire infrastructure yourself.
We need something like this for crypto — one of the reasons NBA Top Shot is so successful is because people can buy moments with credit cards. However the system on NBA Top Shot is a proprietary system specific to Dapper Labs (the parent company), so it’s not trivial for other projects to do this. If there is some easy to use infrastructure & tooling layer to make this possible, it will quickly bridge the gap between the traditional finance system and the blockchain, which will directly increase adoption of NFTs.
Aside from systematic changes that still need to happen to gain mainstream adoption, we need to offer custom experiences and combine them with the concepts of NFTs and the blockchain.
For example, 3LAU is a DJ & EDM producer who leveraged NFTs to build a custom experience in selling his music, that would’ve otherwise not been easily feasible.
To commemorate 3LAU breaking 1 billion online streams and the 3-year release of his album Ultraviolet, 3LAU decided to release a collection of NFTs representing the album. Only 33 Ultraviolet Vinyl NFTs got minted, with a few extra twists that made this custom experience incredibly interesting:
- The top bidder will be able to collaborate with 3LAU on brand new single, tokenized as a 1 of 1 song NFT.
- Platinum and Gold winners get access to exclusive 3LAU content, including unreleased music that is playable with our custom player on 3LAU.com
- This exclusive vinyl can be redeemed with a platinum, gold or silver Vinyl NFT. 3LAU will personally sign the commemorative vinyl packaging.
It’s not surprising at all that more and more celebrities, musicians, artists, studios, record labels, and sports franchise, and even projects like Proof of Culture (which we analyzed in our previous article) are building custom experiences for audiences. The custom experience can be anything from collaborating on a song, getting unique interaction with a celebrity, or commissioning art on the blockchain, but this will add much more value to NFTs than just buying digital art.
NFTs will power both digital & physical experiences and digital art will merely be a subsection of NFTs.
This paradigm shift will allow for not just hardcore crypto and NFT enthusiasts to join in, but for the wider audience. We are already seeing this happen and we have no doubt that it will continue to accelerate.
What do you think is missing for NFTs to reach mainstream adoption? Please share and comment below about any projects you found interesting that is pushing the NFT space forward! As always, we at Crypto Insider will continue to look out for new NFT projects and overall trends as the space evolves. Please remember to give us some claps and follow us!
NFTs are just like any investment vehicle. We do not provide any investment advice, and please do your own due diligence before purchasing them!