Everywhere you look these days, it seems people are talking about non-fungible tokens or NFTs. But you’ll be forgiven if you’re totally confused as to what they are and why they’re so hot. They are, well, confusing. So let’s see if we can’t clear things up a little bit, shall we?


What exactly is an NFT?

The term non-fungible token doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so let’s break it down, piece by piece. Non-fungible means, essentially, unique. Something that is non-fungible cannot be replaced with something else.

A dollar – or, say, a bitcoin – is fungible. If you trade one dollar for another, you’ll have the exact same thing, with the same value.

On the other hand, if you have a one-of-a-kind item, say a pair of Nike Air Ships that Michael Jordan wore during his first season with the Chicago Bulls (which recently sold at an auction for $1.47 million) that is non-fungible. Irreplaceable

So, NFTs are, basically, one-of-a-kind digital items that are part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency (like bitcoin), but the Ethereum blockchain also supports these one-of-a-kind tokens, which can be literally anything digital. A drawing. A painting. A film. A song. Video games. The Nyan Cat meme. Heck, as The Verge recently pointed out, you could download your brain and turn it into artificial intelligence and sell that as an NFT.

And that’s just the beginning. There are plans to sell physical products – like clothing or sports memorabilia – as NFTs, too.

It’s a burgeoning market with a lot of possibilities – and people are making millions and millions of dollars off of it already.

So how do you get in on the action?

You got to check out the NFT marketplaces. Established names include OpenSea, Raible, SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Foundation, Crypto Punks, NBA Top Shot, and Axie Marketplace.

But like we said before, NFTs are a burgeoning market and new marketplaces are popping up all the time, exploring new industries.

Consider OneOf, a “green NFT platform” designed to connect music fans with their favourite artists. OneOf attempts to capitalize on some growing concerns among artists about the environmental impact of cryptocurrency.

Another new marketplace is Mogul Productions, a decentralized film financing, or DeFiFi, company, that recently launched an NFT marketplace for movie lovers. Mogul also makes its own films and involves fans in the process. It has a system where users can weigh in on scripts through STARS Tokens, one of the best NFT tokens to buy. Mogul ambitiously hopes to make the first “crypto movie.”

Wait. How much can I expect to spend on an NFT?

The general idea – or hope – is that NFT collecting will become like fine-art collecting, and that of course is a pricey hobby. And indeed, you don’t have to search very hard to find NFTs that have sold for five, six or seven figures.

But at this point, NFTs aren’t only for the ultra-rich. Digital moments from NBA games can be purchased for as little as $9 through NBA Top Shot.

So, is this just a fad?

That’s the thing: Nobody really can say for sure. It’s new technology. Blockchain and cryptocurrency were seen as faddish just a few years ago, and now you’ve got the CEO of Morgan Stanley saying it’s not going anywhere.

Plus, there’s obviously already a lot of money involved.

With this kind of money involved, it's unlikely that the investors of NFTs are just going to let this fade to black. But, if you’re interested in jumping into the fray, keep in mind that new technologies, especially in their early days, can boom and bust.

There’s always a risk when you’re talking about new, pricey, hyped tech. But it’s probably a safe bet that in some form NFTs will be around for a long time to come.