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What is an NFT?

Exploring NFTs: Understanding the digital ownership phenomenon and its impact on the creative landscape.

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Welcome to the exciting world of NFTs. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique digital assets that have taken the internet by storm. Unlike cryptocurrencies, NFTs represent one-of-a-kind items, from NFT digital art to virtual real estate, making ownership and authenticity easily verifiable thanks to blockchain technology.

Playing a big role in the Web3 movement, the NFT ecosystem is proving its potential when it comes to revolutionizing how we value and trade digital creations. Below we explore the concept, explain how to navigate NFT marketplaces and take a look at the advantages and disadvantages that the NFT market is faced with.

What are NFTs?

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique digital assets built on blockchain technology that have transformed the way we perceive ownership and value in the digital world. Before we get into it, “non-fungible” means that something is unique and cannot be exchanged on a one-to-one basis with any other item, as it possesses distinct attributes or characteristics that set it apart from others. 

Unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are interchangeable and hold equal value, NFTs are indivisible and represent distinct items, each with its own verifiable identity and scarcity. 

This uniqueness is what makes NFTs special and highly sought after in various industries. From digital art pieces to real estate, NFTs have opened up a realm of possibilities, with some fetching jaw-dropping prices at auctions and marketplaces. 

The most expensive piece of NFT art ever sold was in December 2021, when digital artist Pak's NFT creation "Merge" sold for an astonishing US$91.8 million.

NFTs have empowered creators, artists, and even gamers, as these assets grant exclusive ownership and authenticity of their work or collectibles, sparking a revolution in the way we trade and appreciate digital creations.

How do NFTs work?

NFTs are essentially a digital file created using a blockchain network, meaning that once minted its history of ownership will be permanently stored on that specific blockchain (i.e. Ethereum). 

Blockchain technology forms the backbone of NFTs, operating as a decentralized, tamper-resistant ledger that records transactions across a vast network of computers. It enables transparency and immutability, ensuring each NFT's ownership history and authenticity can be traced and verified by anyone at any time.

Smart contracts, self-executing digital agreements stored on the blockchain, play a pivotal role in NFTs by automating the creation, ownership, and transfer of these unique tokens. These smart contracts encode the rules and conditions governing NFT transactions, enabling seamless interactions and ensuring that creators receive royalties each time their NFT is resold.

NFTs adhere to specific standards, like ERC-721 and ERC-1155, which dictate their structure and functionality on the Ethereum blockchain. ERC-721, the original NFT standard, ensures the uniqueness and indivisibility of tokens, while ERC-1155 allows for the creation of both fungible and non-fungible assets, enabling efficient batch transfers and reducing gas costs.

These standards have paved the way for the vibrant NFT marketplace, supporting various creative and commercial use cases within the digital realm. From digital artists being able to more seamlessly sell their digital artwork to empowering users through trading NFTs, the NFT space is a growing and impressive ecosystem.

How to buy an NFT and navigate NFT marketplaces

Buying and owning NFTs is an exciting journey into the world of digital ownership. To begin, you will need to set up a digital wallet, a secure digital space that stores and manages NFTs. These wallets are available in various forms, from web-based to hardware options, and must support the network on which your NFT was created. Metamask is a common option.

Next, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with several NFT marketplaces. You'll want to find one that offers the NFT projects or NFT collections that you're after, although it is equally important to prioritse security and ease of use when selecting from the range NFT marketplaces. OpenSea and Rarible are two of the largest NFT marketplaces to explore digital artwork and browse NFT collections.

Once you’ve chosen the digital collectibles you wish to purchase, follow the instructions specific to that platform and enter the digital wallet address to where you want the Non-Fungilbe Tokens to be sent. Once the transaction is complete, the NFT will be sent to your wallet and the blockchain will note and verify ownership of that digital asset. 

Should you wish to sell NFTs, you will need to create the digital asset or NFT collections and follow the instructions specific to the marketplace you wish to sell them on.

Digital assets use cases across various industries

NFTs have unlocked a large number of innovative use cases across diverse industries. From real estate to art to gaming, these assets are changing the way data ownership is both viewed and managed. 

In the realm of art and collectibles, artists can tokenize their work into NFT art, proving authenticity and enabling direct sales to collectors, cultivating a new era of digital art ownership. 

NFTs within the gaming and virtual reality platforms allow players to own rare in-game items or virtual land, enhancing the gaming experience and creating vibrant virtual economies. 

While in the music and entertainment industry, these digital assets empower musicians to tokenize albums or concert tickets, transforming fan engagement and royalty distribution. 

Even real estate has seen a shift as NFTs streamline property ownership, fractionalizing investments, and simplifying title transfers. As NFT adoption continues, expect many more industries to embrace this transformative technology.

The pros and cons of NFTs

NFTs bring a host of advantages that are reshaping the digital landscape, however, they are not without their challenges and risks. We explore both sides of the coin below. 

Advantages of NFTs

Firstly, they offer indisputable ownership and authenticity verification, as each NFT is stored on the blockchain, providing a transparent and immutable record of its origin and ownership history. 

This instills trust in both collectors and investors, elevating the value of digital assets to new heights. Secondly, NFTs open up new horizons for artists and creators, granting them unprecedented opportunities to monetize their work directly, without intermediaries, and earn royalties from subsequent resales. This empowerment has fostered a flourishing digital art scene and enabled emerging talents to gain recognition globally.

Additionally, NFTs make digital assets more interactive and engaging by letting creators add special features. For example, gamified NFTs enable users to take part in virtual worlds where in-game items have real-world worth, completely changing how we experience games and encouraging more active involvement.

Disadvantages of NFTs

One major concern is their environmental impact, as the blockchain's energy-intensive nature raises questions about sustainability. Market volatility is also a potential risk, with NFT prices subject to speculation and sudden fluctuations, leading to potential financial losses for investors. 

Additionally, the relative novelty of NFTs has attracted scammers and fraudulent schemes, making it essential for buyers and sellers to exercise caution and conduct thorough research before engaging in transactions.

NFTs have also raised copyright and legal concerns. While they provide proof of ownership for digital assets, they may not necessarily address copyright infringement or unauthorized usage of underlying intellectual property. This requires a careful balance between empowering creators and protecting their rights, ensuring the fair and ethical use of NFTs in the digital ecosystem.

Overall, the advantages of NFTs hold immense promise for the digital world, but addressing the associated challenges and risks is essential for responsible and sustainable growth in this transformative domain.

In conclusion

Thanks to blockchain technology, NFTs have revolutionized digital ownership and value, empowering users through the ability to create, buy and sell NFTs. They provide indisputable ownership verification and empower artists and creators to monetize their work directly. The interactive and gamified aspects of NFTs enhance experiences, but challenges include environmental impact, market volatility, and copyright concerns. As NFT adoption continues, understanding both advantages and challenges is crucial for their responsible and promising future.


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