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Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are having a moment. But is this new digital asset here to stay, or will it fade away like other pandemic trends? (Banana bread, we’re looking at you!) Members of the Tatler community weigh in on the longevity of these new crypto tokens

Adrian Cheng, K11 Group Chairman

“Using pixels and algorithms to code and create art was a trend even in the 1990s. NFTs and the metaverse are two big components in exhibiting and facilitating this movement. People born before the internet age are not used to buying virtual weapons and playing online games, whereas the younger generation are used to digital ownership and establishing identity in the virtual metaverse.

Some recent examples of my investments are RTFKT, which is a leading brand that creates digital sneakers and artefacts; and The Sandbox, where my “land” is one of the biggest plots and forms part of the “Mega City” virtual world.

I would like to build an innovation hub to showcase some amazing start-ups that I have invested in and create a virtual customer experience for each. The start-ups to be featured will include Aesir, Casetify, Lalamove, DayDayCook, Prenetics and Matrixport, the latter of which trades, lends and does asset management for institutional and retail clients. Matrixport will help the next generation manage their digital assets. These are just some of the steps that I’m taking in the metaverse, and I’m sure there is so much more we can do with the development of technology.” 

Wesley Ng, Founder, Casetify

“NFTs are the future, period. Right now, people are mostly focusing on things like virtual land. But the long-term value of NFTs is still untapped. There are a few projects I support like CloneX, Nudemen and the Bored Ape Yacht Club. There are so many PFP [profile picture] projects now that it’s hard to keep up.”

Francis Belin, President, Christie’s Asia Pacific

“NFTs open a new chapter for the art industry and the whole world. In March 2021, Christie’s sold the NFT for the first digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house: Beeple’s Everydays: the First 5000 Days. It sold for US$69 million, with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. Since then, we have offered more NFTs at auction.

In 2021, our global NFT sales reached US$150 million, with Asian buyers contributing 57 per cent of the value. The NFT market is empowering, influential and expanding, and will continue to evolve in the coming years. NFTs empower artists and open the door for names like Beeple and Larva Labs to sit beside Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat as creators capturing the zeitgeist of their time, proving that digital art is just as collectible as physical art.” 

Ryan Sun, Director of Business Development, Fotomax

“NFTs have a great future because they are digital assets that are not caged by age, culture or distance. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Crypto Punks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club in May 2021 by my friend Shawn Yue. When I first invested, my wife Sandee was very concerned about whether NFTs would hold their value. Fotomax has been printing photos for 40 years in Hong Kong and each photo retails at HK$2, but the value of an NFT is derived from the interest people have in it.

With more celebrities using NFTs as their profile pictures, we are stepping into the age of avatars, where people are no longer flexing about cars and bling on their feeds, but are instead flexing about the digital assets they hold. Blue Chip NFTs such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and Doodle have many celebrity endorsers, which will make them successful as long as artists, collectors and celebrities maintain the hype around it. But beware: the digital world is not as nice as you think. Hackers and scammers are constantly trying to steal your assets. The media makes investing in NFTs seem like a surefire win, but it’s not.”

Justin Ng, Managing Director, Cachet Asset Management

“I’m not that bullish on NFTs, but the technology of NFTs is here to stay. I see immense potential for traditional-medium artists to issue NFTs. NFTs are meant to prove ownership of assets worth collecting, but over half of the NFTs I see on the market now are of items with little to no value. The biggest hurdle from an investment perspective is that most banks don’t accept funds from the sale of NFTs due to anti-money laundering issues."

Austen Chu, Founder, Wristcheck

“I believe NFTs have immense potential to fill a gap in the market for many industries, including art, music and the authentication of high-end, luxury products, such as watches. I purchased a few NFTs and my favourite by far is a homegrown NFT called Monkey Kingdom, which was the first popular NFT project from Hong Kong. It has since sparked a frenzy of other local NFTs.

I grew up watching [Disney nature documentary] Monkey Kingdom, so the NFT brought back all kinds of nostalgia. Musicians like Steve Aoki and Verbal and actors like Sunny Wang are also supporters of this project, and so is the watch community. It’s just the beginning.”

Vicky Lam, Co-owner, Apex Property

“For people interested in buying land and building their real estate in the metaverse, Decentraland is a good option when you want to go shopping for fashion or even to buy a drink. For art, I love the Damien Hirst and Mr Doodle NFTs. For gaming NFTs, I like My Neighbor Alice and Axie Infinity. I am so excited for our future in this virtual world and to become an avatar. I can’t wait to find more friends there.” 

Keith Rumjahn, Co-founder and CEO, OliveX

“For the first time ever in human history, we have digital rarity: a complete history of transactions and proof of authenticity. We are still very early in the game and there will be unimaginable ways people will use NFTs. Right now it’s a store of culture and a way to show off your digital tribe. It’s moving towards providing utility but there’s way more coming. I bought a 12 x 12 piece of “land” in The Sandbox. The Sandbox has reached a tipping point as a metaverse.

New World’s Adrian Cheng’s megacity with Casetify, Prenetics and DayDayCook inside The Sandbox’s metaverse is important because it signifies traditional real estate developers moving to develop virtual real estate. In the future, virtual property will be worth more than real property. That being said, security is still a concern. You can’t really steal a physical piece of land but you can steal a virtual piece of land if you hack someone’s wallet.

There’s also a steep learning curve to acquire crypto and then purchase NFTs. This will become easier over time as more companies work on this.”

Veronica Chou, CEO and founder, Everybody & Everyone

“It’s the future. NFT and blockchain applications are not only for the fun artwork that’s all the hype right now, but, when used in fashion products, allow brands to have additional royalties and revenue streams from all their future resells, and hence decrease the need to constantly make new products. This is ultimately better for sustainability. Karl Lagerfeld is one of the first fashion brands to launch NFT art, and I’ve bought a few drops of limited 77 or 777 Karl Lagerfeld figures, in partnership with [digital fashion marketplace] The Dematerialised.”

Jehan Chu, Founder, Kenetic

“NFTs are the future of digital ownership— whether fine art and design or even user data and digital pets. NFTs are a universal medium for our increasingly digital life. I started buying Decentraland virtual land NFTs in 2018, and since then have been focused on collecting fine art NFTs by leading digital artists like Beeple, Refik Anadol, Andres Reisinger and Ash Thorp, as well as traditional artists like Urs Fischer and Tom Sachs. In my mind, we are in a once-in-a-lifetime window to collect first- generation work by the latest group of artists, which will answer the age-old question, “What counts as art?”, and the answer to this question will define art for the next 50 years.” 

Sara Mao, Director, Christie’s Education

“NFTs are making waves in the traditional art market, widening opportunities for artists and enabling more people to be collectors and trendsetters in the contemporary art world. It’s exciting to see such a wide range of artists and artworks out there. Whether they are a strong bet is really up to which communities and NFTs you are looking into— research is a must.”

Federico Tan, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Advisory Council

"I used to think it was a fad and to some extent, a scam. But, I’ve been converted and I do believe that NFTs are here to stay.  NFTs have found a way to unite art and commerce. NFT marketplaces like Opensea and Magic Eden have allowed creators to showcase their work to a wide audience and continually generate liquidity. My first ever NFT was the Solana-based PFP, Monkey Kingdom. It's an NFT project from Asia that took off in a very short amount of time. I also picked up Lil Heroes by Edgar Plans, and I'm looking to get some NFTs from the upcoming drops by artists Takashi Murakami and Hanai Yusuke.

NFTs have been embraced by the youth and it's a new innovation that everyone is learning about and developing at the same time. We are all at the starting line together."

 

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