The non-fungible token (NFT) space has surged in popularity over the past year and a half, as projects such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks have garnered public attention.
While the idea of getting a six-figure payday for the latest trending piece of digital art has been a major factor in the industry’s attention, the truth is that the crypto industry has only scratched the surface of NFT’s technical capabilities.
Below is a rundown of some of the next frontiers in NFT technology development that have the potential to make a big difference to everyday life.
Medical records and identification
Medical records and identification documents are vital information that can easily be misplaced and difficult to replace, even in the digital age. This is one area where NFT technology can provide a wide range of practical use cases, from which most people in society can benefit.
Rather than having large medical institutions record, manage, and track an individual’s medical records, a unique NFT ledger assigned to each individual can store all medical information while maintaining confidentiality and privacy.
It would also allow people to control what information is shared with health providers when seeking treatment, while keeping less relevant personal data private.
It is possible that one day, the process will begin at birth, with a healthcare provider or government agency issuing an NFT birth certificate to the newborn. This can also be the start of building a digital identity record that can be tracked in the form of NFTs.
With digital forms of identification, individuals will be able to limit what information is shared when identifying information is needed, such as an app that can verify that a person is over 21 without revealing other information typically included in ID, such as home address.
Real estate and asset tokenization
The tokenization of real estate and other real-world assets may be one of the most widespread and paradigm-shifting applications of NFT technology, as it has impacted numerous industries.
Besides being an easy way to track and verify ownership of projects, tokenization of assets will eventually allow them to be used in many different applications in decentralized finance (DeFi).
Eventually, individuals will be able to use NFTs representing their home deeds as collateral for DeFi protocols, which will allow them to borrow funds to use elsewhere in a similar way to refinancing.
Tokenization of larger items, such as hotels or luxury yachts, also allows for decentralized ownership, giving those who would normally not be able to afford such items access to it.
There is no limit to what can be tagged and tracked on the blockchain, and it is likely that all forms of assets, including stocks, bonds, art, rare collectibles and luxury goods, will one day be represented as NFTs.
Intellectual Property and Patents
NFTs are ideal for tracking intellectual property (IP) and patents, as they take the current trademark and copyright system to the next level by providing a way to prove ownership of any content.
The data retention capabilities of blockchain technology allow the entire history of a piece of IP to be tracked and time stamped, providing a way to provide non-repudiation of ownership. Likewise, data for patents or inventions can be recorded on the blockchain in the form of NFTs, providing a way to protect and prove ownership.
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Ticketing and Rewards Program
One use case where NFTs have been explored and implemented in entertainment venues around the world is the creation of tickets or event passes. The ability to create an unlimited number of unique NFTs allows venues such as concert halls and sports venues to issue tickets as NFTs for easy verification or transfer.
The proliferation of smartphones in society has made digital ticketing possible, and the integration of NFT technology will help make the process more efficient and easier to track.
Companies can set up reward programs to provide participants with NFTs that can be used to track purchases or activities within the organization for reward purposes. Rather than issuing physical cards or tracking activity by phone number, which exposes important personal information, activity is tracked through an NFT that is scanned without revealing any other information.
The ultimate application of NFT technology is as a general utility token that performs specific functions, such as verifying membership in exclusive clubs or providing access to specific services.
Many NFT projects are already using this feature, they have a website or a Discord group that can only be accessed after verifying ownership of the NFTs in that particular collection.
Applications of this idea range from content creators giving fans exclusive access to songs if they hold an NFT issued by that musician, to secret societies allowing rare NFT holders access to their sacred library.
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