Crypto, NFTs, and metaverse are the latest buzzwords, and companies worldwide are looking for ways to tap the market.
France ranks among the top three European countries for fintech investment. The nation has emerged as a fintech behemoth, raising €1.9 billion ($2.17B) in 2021 — more than double the figure raised the year prior. Many fintech startups specialize in crypto and NFTs.
Now home for over 1200 fintech startups, Paris will host Blockchain Week Summit (PBWS) and launch Paris NFT day on April 12th. Ahead of what’s supposed to be Europe’s largest NFT-focused event, I decided to sit down with PBWS CEO Emmanuel Fenet to discuss where the NFT market is headed.
NFT sales hit $25 billion in 2021. The metaverse market, estimated at $110 billion, is projected to reach approximately $760 billion by 2026. DeFi (decentralized finance) currently appears to be consolidating above the $105 billion market cap. Business tycoons and novices alike see tremendous opportunities and are trying to tap the trend. It results in many opportunists crafting up projects – sometimes to get a quick buck. It is evident in the NFT market. But, according to Fenet, it is not out of the ordinary.
"We are in the early adoption process for NFTs. It means that people want to get in, the early adopters want to benefit from the market, and they buy every project hoping that at least one of them will be successful. That creates a platform for these fake opportunities. Today, we have buyers even for projects that we don't know what they will produce and what benefit they are going to give," he said.
The tide is slowly turning. Now, as we have a little bit of a track record on the NFT market, we can easier tell whether there's any real benefit attached to an NFT project.
"We start to see good practices emerging. It will leave behind this kind of opportunistic behavior."
Not only do novices engage with NFTs, but established companies, such as Coca-Cola, and auction houses like Sotheby's experiment with NFTs, make the market more sustainable.
"That's what is making it a long-term trend and not just a bubble. We see many applications in the real world, in the business world."
Paris NFT day will shine a light on five different areas related to NFTs - art, gaming, fashion, sports, and metaverse.
"I don't have a crystal ball to see the future. But we start to see a lot of projects not taking off because there's no value attached to them. The projects that have value are still going up," Fenet added.
NFTs are not only about the money
In July 2021, Coca-Cola auctioned its first NFTs for more than $575,000.
"We've been watching NFTs, cryptocurrency, and the metaverse, and see this as a timely opportunity to participate in and learn from this emerging space," Oana Vlad, global senior brand director at Coca-Cola Trademark, said.
Fenet highlighted that when big commercial brands like Coca-Cola go into NFTs, it's not just for money.
"It can be just for customer relations or to build communications strategy. More and more companies and people are educated about NFTs, and this is a real solid trend."
NFTs allow companies to get a foothold in web3 and see what's happening.
"It's already paying off. It's an accelerator for these people to get on web3."
Crypto, including NFTs, has an enormous carbon footprint. When Gorillaz minted their album on the blockchain, fans went crazy. The cartoon band delved into climate change and the devastation on Earth on their album Plastic Beach. Yet, they moved on to minting NFTs that, alongside blockchain technology, are criticized for their negative impact on climate.
Climate change is a hot topic in Paris, the city being at the heart of the Paris Climate Accords. Fenet said that NFTs' carbon footprint would be one of the topics during the Paris NFT day.
"Regarding the areas of improvement, we are very optimistic for several reasons. It is decentralized, so the blockchain miners can go literally to any place in the world to use the energy that would be wasted if we didn't use it or to some places that have clean or renewable energy. It's already happening."
He is also optimistic as significant investors are coming into the market.
"They have accounts to give to their pension funds, and they all have really strong green roadmaps. So these people, because of the money coming in, are going to select greener projects."
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