Wherever you look nowadays, somebody’s talking about NFTs.

Whether it be artwork, music, videos or photos, any digital content can take the form of NFTS. They are the trendiest things to buy right now, and everyone is getting on board.

Canadian singer Grimes sold $6 million worth of NFTs earlier this year, while NFT art project CryptoPunks set a daily record on Monday with USD 86 million in sales, with even credit card giant VISA dropping about USD 150,000 in ETH to buy this work.

VISA’s crypto and NFT expert said in a blog post, “We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce.”

So let’s dive in — why are people minting, buying and trading NFTs, and what’s ICON doing in this space?

What exactly are NFTs?

NFT stands for “non-fungible token” and it is a unit of data that represents a unique digital asset. 

They are stored on decentralized networks using blockchain technology, which means that computers all over the world can publicly verify each token’s authenticity and ownership.

Even though the content itself can be downloaded by anyone, the ownership rights cannot be duplicated.

In many ways, it’s similar to buying a copyright — the owner possesses a “token” that proves that they are the sole owner of an original work. 

Why the hype?

Buyers have an opportunity to purchase digital goods that are one-of-a-kind. This allows you to support independent creators or to own unique works. For instance, a leading South Korean museum recently announced it would mint 100 NFTs of a treasured historical document, and is currently working with a digital art museum to issue NFTs of other national treasures in its collection.

You could also own an NFT that captures a historic moment. Go master Lee Se-Dol, the only player in history to have defeated AlphaGo (AI made by Google’s DeepMind), turned the record of his victory into a digital file. The NFT sold for more than USD 210,000 in an auction.

Furthermore, marketplaces offer the option to resell NFTs, sometimes for a higher price. Likewise, buyers can simply hold on to NFTs if they believe that they will increase in value, just as they would with any investment. This makes them perfect for investors who wish to diversify their portfolio.

On the creation side, NFTs offer creators and SMEs more opportunities to thrive through digital commerce. Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at VISA, said:

NFTs have the potential to become a powerful accelerator for the creator economy and lower the barrier to entry for individual creatives to earn a living through digital commerce. NFTs are starting to usher in a new form of social commerce that empowers both creators and collectors.

NFTs could also fuel small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in powerful new ways. The rise of ecommerce has made it possible for SMBs to sell online and reach customers around the globe. But they still have to produce and ship physical goods, which can have high upfront costs. NFTs give small businesses an opportunity to harness public blockchains for producing digital goods—which can be delivered instantly to a crypto wallet. We can envision a future in which your crypto address becomes as important as your mailing address.”  

How can you get them?

There are many ways to obtain NFTs. 

You can purchase NFTs from a third-party marketplace or an online exchange using cryptocurrency. Users will often compete against each other in an auction, with the highest bidder buying the NFT from the seller. The site functions as a middleman. The same applies if you want to sell an NFT.

For example, Craft Network is an NFT marketplace based on ICON’s blockchain where users can buy, sell and trade various works using ICX. 

Craft Network also lets artists and other creators mint their own NFTs. All you need is a wallet, a bit of crypto and an idea worth digitizing and saving on the blockchain.

Players of the ICON-powered game Project Nebula can also collect NFTs in-game by colonizing new worlds — which can be acquired using ICX, in-game resources, or sometimes nothing at all — or by purchasing them from other players.