Day 3 at Davos took us straight to the future and back!
On Wednesday morning, the #BlockchainHubDavos opened with a scene akin to StarWars, as Lou Kerner, a leading blockchain investor who has just opened the 77th “Crypto Mondays” community in Lisbon, spoke of the vitality of communities in building futures.
He referenced - “An epic battle for the soul of the metaverse” - between FANG and the decentralized community - saying it “feels like Star Wars, we are the alliance, and FANG is the death star.” He spoke passionately about the community and encouraged delegates when building communities and ecosystems to think of things to give members: not cash but faith!
MatterFi’s Michal "Mehow" Pospieszalski introduced MatterFi as “a decentralized security solution for best in class institutional and end to end security, without building a thing".
And so began the journey to explore NFTs, Gaming, and The Metaverse.
Evolution of NFTs
Issues of security, minting, and creating value were first explored. Alex Altman of Seal Storage painted the future use cases for NFTs: real estate, derivatives, gaming, electronic health records, software, and the patent industry - where with an NFT, one can defend with a time-stamped NFT, an immutable digital asset.
Dr. Stephan Holzer of Veritic - showed how NFTs should be minted securely. He said, “I think minting NFTs without a secure environment is the challenge, and that's what we are working on”.
He reminded delegates that as 20% of crypto was lost over time, now in NFT space, we need to create protection so that losses are not incurred. To enable the next billion NFT users, we need to have custody/security.
As an example of how good custody works, Stephan mentioned that the NBA Top Shot's success was correlated to the fact that they provided custody and allowed people to buy using fiat currency. He indicated that research shows that 3 times more people will purchase using fiat currency if allowed to do so.
Shyam Nagarajan of IBM entertained delegates with his opening line - “Leave it to the guy from IBM to take the fun out of NFTs”! Shyam brought great intellectual fun to the day. He showed real-world projects, including intellectual property /patents, analyst reports, and carbon credits/renewable energy certs - all becoming NFT’d. He demonstrated that with a current market cap of $11.1 billion, NFTs are more than just art. He spoke of secondary market possibilities, such as with patents, fraud prevention - such as with carbon credit NFTs.
He heightened the proposition that NFTs are real-life stuff, not just collectibles. Stephan showed illiquid physical assets that need a digital twin that allows multiple ownership, e.g., Metacask and Ticketmaster. He foresees a great future for NFTs as a reward tool, such as in play-to-earn and education settings.
NFT Infrastructure & Innovation was assessed in a lively panel moderated by Joshua Kriger. Panelists included: Carlos Creus Moreira (WISeKey), Ashok Ranadive (CasperLabs), Dario De Siena (artist desiena GmbH), and Jane Cui (Ernst Leitz Labs, Inc).
This panel was forthcoming in discussing that it is time to take stock and build for the long term. With insights and perspectives from all angles - from an NFT artist to the infrastructure provider for NFT minting (WiseKey), it produced a general consensus that NFT infrastructure still has some optimizing to do to fit the needs of the end-users - artists and institutions. Mostly, the minting of smart contracts should be made easier. NFT artist Dario suggested a “Shopify for NFT platforms, where everything is based on templates.”
Some brief takeaways on what panelists felt were the infrastructure pieces needed most to improve NFTs:
- Carlos - identity is essential. Particularly, we need authenticated users in the metaverse. If we were to create an NFT of our identity, we could be embedded into the contract.
- Joshua - “Need an easy button to create art”
- Dario - “Security and onboarding for newbies is always hard. Tech should be as easy and safe as possible. I am not in tech. I am just an artist trying to reach new ways to expand, and NFTs were working for me, so it was not that hard.” He added that infrastructure is needed for newbies, who need to understand how to do it without mistakes.
- Jane - Jane agreed with Dario. “Most artists are not techies. They are users, so NFT infrastructure should be built to fit into a creator’s workflow”. She asked - “How do we allow artists to create, protect, authenticate, and participate in the appreciation of their artwork?” Suggesting that NFT tech can help democratize photography and creations in the metaverse, enabling creatives to get value from their IPs.
- Ashok - “The technology should be invisible to the creators - not only artists but also institutions”
Carlos referred to NFTs as another Renaissance, where we are witnessing a convergence of talent happening again. He suggested that we must focus on creativity, art, and objects and be aware that NFTs are furnishing the Metaverse. Carlos showed us that Wisekey satellites are minting NFTs from space, converting people and their assets into NFTs. He shared his belief that “the big opportunity is to bring all of the world's art, even that of the Vatican, to issue itself as a digital twin to its physical self.”
And so we entered the Metaverse
On our way, we met Max Shin, Burrito Wallet, who spoke of two great deities in Korea, religion & crypto!
“Korea is the third-largest crypto trading nation by volume, despite having just 15% DeFi penetration. The Burrito wallet wraps all DeFi needs, ready to navigate the Web3 world in Korea”.
James Woolley of MetaVest Capital demonstrated how the Metaverse is already reshaping Gaming. He said, “Blockchain gaming is a 3000 times opportunity, where gamers won’t just play the game or indeed play to earn, BUT they will play to OWN”. He spoke of the 3.2 billion gamers in the world and the 1.4 billion active blockchain gamers. Traditional gamers will begin to join due to the immersivity and the gain, not only playing but playing to earn and own! He referenced the $40bn market by 2025 and the Genesis Fund.
Michael Weiksner, Ph.D., shared an in-depth look at games on-chain. Pocketful of Quarters who intends to solve the question 'Why can't you play any games you want with the same token'? He heralded that gaming is at an incredible moment in history as it goes on-chain and meets the Metaverse.
Next up we had Casper In the MetaVerse: DMusic's ClubHouse Demo by Esteban van Goor & Steven Witte of DMusic. This one made us feel like dancing! DMusic allows distribution of NFTs, just as you’d buy physical music in a record store. The success they see - is that if you entertain and make it fun, people will come!
After much fun, we then heard from a panel moderated by James Woolley, which examined the topic - Hype Meets Reality: Ignore the Rise of the Metaverse at Your Own Risk
Panelists were Ronit Ghose (Citi), Anthony Mason (Star Atlas), Nilson Kufus (Nomoko), and Georg Bak (Snowcash). These guys smashed it when summarizing how to define the Metaverse.
Everyone agreed that there is no metaverse without merging physical and that its socioeconomic context is what is generating the interest.
Some highlights were:
- Ronit Ghose - “The Metaverse is an immersive internet. We can get to it via AR or, indeed, VR!”
- Anthony Mason - ”For us, it is about the community driving the decisions, not Meta. It should be this way for everyone in the industry.”
- Nilson Kufus - “In the physical world, there's a singularity. In the meta world, we need singularity to create economies.”
- Georg Bak - “NFTs will incentivize people in the Metaverse.”
There was a sense that we are coming through the hype and that we need to take care of the risk that the metaverse could only be driven by crypto when it needs to be driven by creators.
- Nilson Kufus - “NFTs need to become a tool to aid the purpose rather than being the purpose itself, with purpose and value they will stay.”
- James Woolley felt that success in the Metaverse would be if use cases have a physical space.
There was a sense that the likes of Apple could initially centralize the Metaverse, but for creators, it would become their universe. We learned that NFTs connect DeFi to the real world and the physical world to the Metaverse!
How NFTs Are Reshaping Industries
Andrea Abrams – Founder and Chief Metaverse Officer of Phygicode, Chief of Strategy at Faith Tribe DAO - truly inspired the audience by showing how NFTs are reshaping not just the fashion industry but whole creative sectors. She said:
“Solving the problems that the fashion industry has faced for years – traceability, accessibility, inventory management.”
“Blockchain - Finally, a tech that could give a solution to authentication and traceability in the fashion industry."
“NFTs are not just the JPEG. They can be the true item of traceability for fashion.”
Things got really #Phyigital with the next panel, which showed the world how to make NFTs work for Fashion.
We witnessed a riveting panel on “Beyond the Bubble: Making NFTs Work for Fashion” between Andrea Abrams (Phygicode, Faith Tribe DAO), Wahid Chammas (Faith Connexion, Faith Tribe DAO), Maria Buccellati (Faith Connexion, Faith Tribe DAO), Mario Nawfal (NFT Technologies, IBC Group Consulting, Faith Tribe DAO) and Anya Ayoung-Chee (Phygicode & previous winner of the famous series, Project Runway).
The conversation started around why we need Web3 and NFTs in fashion:
“In ten years, you will have permissionless! Young designers will be able to have a level playing field and access the metaverse. Fashion is a 3 trillion dollar industry - but the number of participants that dominate it is tiny. Independent designers have no access - fashion is the epitome of being rigged. We want to access the world to get people into the business of fashion.” - Wahid Chammas
The discussion then moved on to why Web3 and the tokenization of fashion should be seen as a benefit and not something to fear:
- Wahid Chammas -“This is all about truth, transparency, and authenticity and giving people the ownership. When designing for a big brand, the designer doesn’t even own the design. This is different. This gives ownership, power, and influence back to the designer.“
- Mario Nawfal then reminded us that we need to remember the simple definition of NFTs as being:
“NFTs are not those collectibles, photos, and funny pictures. They are a technology enabling you to own something online. NFTs are digital ownership. Now digital creators can build a community without a central entity. Why can’t someone wear Faithtribe or other designer clothes in a game? You can build a community and launch a token without a central system. This is across various industries”
The panel then moved on to panelists summarizing the most exciting aspects of Web3 in the next five years:
- Anya Ayoung-Chee - “I get to be authentically myself. This tech affords people the chance to identify as creators, and that’s at the heart of it.”
- Wahid Chammas - “Web 1.0 happened when I was in college - those doing emails were aliens until we all got in there. Same with Web 2.0. The future is all of us going on Web3. Every one of our lifestyle habits - fashion, gaming, buying a yacht, will be an immersive experience into which we will all enter.”
- Andrea Abrams - “The ability to have a metaverse identity means we can curate a whole aspect of our life. I don’t think I’ve seen anything so transformative since the advent of the internet.”
A member of the audience then asked how one would convey the core value proposition of Web3 to institutions, so they make the transition from old ways of commerce to new. Mario Nawfal answered:
“There are already 150 million users of the Metaverse, which is where Facebook was in 2008. You need to focus not on the technology but explain what NFTs are and the use cases - how NFTs will bring value to brands. Don’t focus on the tech. Focus on the change that will happen. Mention how much money is flowing into the space.”
The next question was focused on the influencers of the future. What will they look like?
Maria Buccellati: “The future will be avatars.”
Andrea Abrams: “we follow brands because of the shared values, so it almost doesn’t matter who is influencing that distribution of the value system. It could be an avatar, or it could be an NFT - a pseudo-anonymous identity.”
In the evening's final session, the topic was The Future is Open & Decentralized.
Rachid Ajaja of AllianceBlock, spoke of NFTs as standards to accelerate decentralized technology adoption. Will O'Brien, NFT Oasis, rousingly said, “Artists bring us through the hard times in our humanity. We’ve been neglecting them for the past centuries. The metaverse provides us the chance for artists to have a home in their identity, legacy, and future. The metaverse holds the future of storytelling - we have a new opportunity to help empower people to tell their story.”
Keith Montgomery introduced us to The Green Metaverse.
Carbon, climate change, and all these issues are out there. He spoke of concerns such as methane from a flare gas having 80 times more damage to our atmosphere than carbon. It takes ten years to dissipate. These are powerful things. He suggested that when you put the Metaverse in the real world, you will have experiences, games, education, etc., which will enable humanity to teach how to protect the physical world. In the green metaverse, we can get things done!
Closing Remarks by CasperLabs' Co-Founder Medha Parlikar
"How was this event?! I’ll tell you: this is the first event at which CasperLabs has been more than just a sponsor, but the co-host. I’m proud of the inclusivity and how we’ve heard from all sorts of projects in the space. This is what blockchain is about: coming together and forming communities. The most significant returns come when former competitors collaborate. I am looking forward to 2023! See you here with your snow boots on!"