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Here's what people really think about Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

In a recent article on the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a tech blogger wrote the following:

"NFTs can be stupid. Intensely so. But they're not as stupid as their detractors would like you to believe."

It's hardly a ringing endorsement. Then again, explaining new ideas to the uninitiated is difficult, especially when those ideas subvert everything we 'know' about ownership, property, and value.

So here's a close look at the wonderful (and slightly surreal) world of NFTs. It includes several charts and tables from CashNetUSA. They rank the countries with the most interest in NFTs. And there's a breakdown of the world's most sought-after NFTs.

But first of all, WTF is an NFT?

Explaining NFTs

A non-fungible token (or NFT) is a digital asset. It could be a piece of digital art, an in-game item (like an exclusive character skin), a video clip, a gif, or even a Tweet. Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi bought Jack Dorsey's first-ever tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million.

Because you can't physically hold digital assets, ownership is recorded on the blockchain. Blockchains are decentralised, immutable records of digital transactions run on linked peer-to-peer computer networks.

Essentially, an NFT is proof of ownership. It's like having a certificate (only in digital form) saying that you're the rightful owner of an asset.

You can sell or trade the NFT with other interested parties. Or you can hold onto it (or hodl, as crypto enthusiasts like to say) in the hope that your NFT increases in value.

Are NFTs valuable?

If people are willing to buy and sell something, then it automatically has value. NFTs are no different. The question is, are they intrinsically valuable, i.e. do they have inherent properties that people find useful or desirable?

Some would argue yes.

Non-fungible means an item is not interchangeable or replaceable by another identical item. For example, a dollar bill is fungible. You can swap one-dollar bills with your friend, and you'll still have one dollar each. And store owners don't care whether you pay for their goods with 'your dollar' bill or your 'friend's dollar’ bill.

A Picasso painting is non-fungible. It was only painted once and always will be. This is what makes great works of art so unique, irreplaceable, and valuable.

The same principles apply to an NFT; an NFT can only be minted once. Anything after that could be considered a copy, a fraud, or a fake.

Are NFTS a fad?

From initial coin offerings (ICOs) to the ill-fated Squid Game coin, the crypto space has had its fair share of 'hot' projects that quickly went to zero.

Max Keiser is a Bitcoin evangelist and host of the Orange Bill Podcast. He's also a big NFT skeptic:

"They're trash," said Keiser in a recent interview. "When you 'buy' an NFT, you're essentially making a charitable donation to the seller. You get no real ownership rights. It's like paying to download a JPEG and then saying you own the image. NFTs are stupid and dumb."

Others are far more optimistic.

"NFTs are another step toward the 'digitisation' of everything," says former Goldman Sachs broker Raoul Pal. "Innovations like the Metaverse and Decentraland will revolutionise how we think about ownership and existing within digital spaces. For future generations, owning an item in the digital world will be no different from owning it in the 'real' world."

Countries hot for NFTs

Singapore is on board with the idea of digital assets. The global business hub leads the way in NFT interest based on the number of online searches. There are 18,717 NFT searches per one million Singapore residents, according to the research from CashNetUSA.
The countries that are most (and least) interested in NFTs, study finds

Even the nation's leaders are involved! Singapore's Speaker of Parliament sold NFTs of his landscape photography to raise money for charity. But the speaker did have a few words of warning for those who see NFTs as a way to get rich quick:

"You really need to know what you're doing," says Tan Chuan-Jin. "If you're not comfortable with it, don't get near it. Like Bitcoin, the NFT space is very volatile. Proceed with caution, and only ever invest what you can afford."

With 18,313 searches, Hong Kong comes next on the list of countries hot for NFTs. Canada (13,388), Iceland (11,194), and the USA (10,677) complete the top 5.

Countries that love NFTs

If you want to know what people really think about something nowadays, there's only one place to go: Twitter!

The researchers from CashNetUSA harnessed the power of AI-platform Hugging Face to analyse the tones and sentiment of NFT tweets from all over the world.

The results show that Montenegro is the most pro-NFT nation on the planet; 862 out of every 1,000 NFT tweets coming out of the Balkan state were positive.

Not everyone has an NFT collection — but everyone has an NFT opinion.

Montenegro's next-door neighbour, Bosnia, sits in the second spot (788 positive tweets), followed by Luxembourg (781), Cuba (729), and Curacao (718.)

NFT haters

Poland is home to the biggest percentage of NFT haters. Almost a quarter of NFT tweets coming out of Poland are negative.

Many Poles were particularly unimpressed when Dorota Rabczewska decided to turn herself into an NFTs. Better known by her stage name Doda, Rabczewska made a 3D scan of her entire body. She then divided it into 406 individual parts, which can now be bought or sold as Non-Fungible tokens.

The starting price for an NFT of the singer's arms and back was $200. NFTs of 'intimate' areas - or what Doba described as her 'rarest' areas - can cost up to $75,000.

Nicaragua, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados all have a high percentage of negative NFTs tweets. As of yet, none of their national stars has tried selling off body parts to fans.

The World's Most-Searched for NFT Collectibles

Online video game Axie Infinity is the world's most popular NFT platform. It was the most searched NFT provider in 112 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and Sweden. Developed by Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity players collect and mint NFTs of digital pets, known as Axies.

Decentraland is the most searched in 43 countries, making it the second most popular NFT platform worldwide. Decentraland is a 3D virtual world browser. Users buy virtual plots of land on the platform as NFTs using Decentraland's MANA cryptocurrency. The most expensive piece of virtual real estate in Decentraland is now worth a whopping $3.5m in MANA!

The jury is still out on these non-fungible tokens. Are NFTs the 21st-century’s version of the emperors' new clothes? Or are they the beginnings of an entirely new kind of virtual economy? We'll have to wait and see!

To dig deeper, CashNetUSA used Google search volume and Twitter sentiment analysis tools to identify the countries with the most (and least) interest in NFTs and the most-searched NFT collectibles

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