Why NFTs are more than just art – by Nifty Souq’s Talal AlAfghani

by Talal AlAfghani, COO NIFTY Souq, 


When NFTs first burst into modern day life, it was largely for their art appeal and cutting edge blockchain technology.

Digital works of art like Beeple’s sold for millions of dollars and you couldn’t go online without seeing a new army of pixelated apes fighting for your attention and crypto.

As one of the founders of NIFTY Souq, the region’s first NFT marketplace, I could see beyond that early hype and knew that we were just scratching the surface of what NFTs can really do.

The rise of NFTs

NFTs have been around since 2014, but it was only in 2021 that they shot to fame (and fortune), becoming the most searched term of the year and creating an industry worth $11.3 billion virtually overnight. Interestingly, the pandemic played a crucial part in their wild growth. With millions working remotely and stuck online due to lockdowns, NFTs offered a crucial lifeline, offering a new way to interact online, and importantly, a new avenue for collectors and investors.

NFTs were the new cool kids on the block, but they also promised a brave new world for creators, allowing artists to fully protect and monetise their music and art by using blockchain technology that acted as a failsafe digital receipt. Where once the internet was the Wild West with virtually no data or copyright protection, blockchain technology tells the world when the digital item was created, who created it, how much it was sold for and much much more.

NIFTY Souq were one of the first to realise that huge potential, as we created the region’s first and biggest NFT Marketplace. And we also knew that art NFTs and their incredible technology were here to help change the digital world.

Brands adopting NFTs

While much of the early NFT boom revolved around creators and artists, brands are increasingly recognising the game-changing power of NFTs.

They’ve seen their benefits and just how versatile they are. They’ve been used across the art, music, gaming, sport and fashion worlds. They’ve been used to create hype, to promote the metaverse, to help market and create brand engagement. And they’ve done very, very well.

Nike have made a record $185 million this year from more than 67,000 transactions including their much-hyped Nike Air Max 1 Oregon Ducks of a Feather NFT Sneaker. Not to be left behind, fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and Ray Ban, legendary sports companies NBA and Formula 1 and global names like Coca Cola and McDonalds have all recently released NFTs with impressive results.

Luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co has just created a range of custom jewellery for CryptoPunk NFT owners while newly created brands like Bored Ape Yacht Club continue to rule with above-average NFT sales and transactions. And it’s not just big luxury brands – global textbook supplier Pearson is planning to sell future books by NFTs, allowing them to benefit from the second-hand market. If it works, it could mean a global revolution in the way second hand digital books are bought and sold.

As you can see, when it’s done right, the NFT market is booming. And increasingly, it’s brands who are alive to the benefits and utilities on offer, creating rewards, loyalty perks and a creative community for their Web3 customers.

Crypto winter 

In many ways, it’s perhaps no surprise that big brands are showing the way forward – they have the time, money and expertise to invest in this new market. And by proving there are substantial ROI available in NFTs, they’ll inspire smaller brands to get involved while also encouraging creators to stay the course on a market that will truly change the artistic dynamic.

Which will help lift NFTs and blockchain technologies out of the ‘crypto winter’ we’re currently in the middle of. De-Fi currencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum crashed from record highs to record lows earlier this summer bringing the NFT market down with it.

But thanks to their versatility and the success of big brands like Nike, Adidas and Tiffany & Co, the green shoots of recovery are already poking through the metaverse, bringing renewed confidence, investment and NFT benefits.

And, as any trader worth their WSJ subscription knows, the best time to invest and create is in a dip. And with big brands blazing a trail for other NFT creators and users to follow, the future’s looking bright.