Aligning a Non-Fungible Future [Interview with Urban Osvald of 0xcert]

Accelerating Adoption

Exactly a year ago, only one or two non-fungible projects were dominating the discussions of blockchain creativity. In the twelve months since, we’ve gone from flush-with-kitties to an expansive ecosystem of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that have spawned scores of crypto collectibles, blockchain games, sought to solve digital art, created a new category of celebrity engagement, and still with dozens of new concepts for future use cases in the works. Decentralization is not all fun and games however, making it difficult to effectively share knowledge and experience between teams that might exist at opposite ends of the world. The young blockchain industry is realizing that we need some concentrated efforts to transform that diverse spectrum into core resources and communities.

0xcert is one of the key leaders in this aspect, recently creating The Non-Fungible Alliance to better connect the global community and provide better gateways into creating NFT products. From high valuation veterans to bubbling startups, the alliance now has almost 100 members with one core mission: to collectively help make a non-fungible future. We joined Urban Osvald, CSO of 0xcert, to explore their mission as a company and with their new alliance.

The Creative Crypto (CC): Welcome Urban! Take me through the history of the project, how you got into it, and what the alliance is about.

From a technological standpoint, 0xcert is an open source protocol built on top of ERC721, and the idea is to provide a framework for non-fungible tokens for issuance management, education, and so on. One of the key focuses is integrating more common coding languages, starting with Java Script. Adoption is one of the words that often floats around. There’s still a lack of these tools to be able to develop stuff in an agile way within the blockchain space. It’s being built right now and I’m currently putting together parts of the documentation.

In general, user experience is extremely poor in the blockchain space at the moment. If you’re John Smith and you have no idea what any of this stuff is, you’re not very likely to be interacting with NFTs at all. This is a problem that encompass more the ecosystem side, the community, the use cases, the business cases, and so on. So we’re approaching this with different avenues, for example our interview series with heads of NFT-integrated projects.

If you’re John Smith and you have no idea what any of this stuff is, you’re not very likely to be interacting with NFTs at all.

This is a problem that encompass more the ecosystem side, the community, the use cases, the business cases, and so on. So we’re approaching this with different avenues, for example our interview series with heads of NFT-integrated projects.

This led us to creating The Non-Fungible Alliance. The feedback so far has been extremely positive. It seems like people would really love to have a platform where they can connect and discover new things as well. We want this to be an active resource, for example publishing open source frameworks for development instances.

CC: There was a lot of news a couple of months ago how a Warhol painting was auctioned off the Maecenas blockchain. What do you think will happen with tokenizing physical assets like art?

Maecenas was actually part of the incubator here in Slovenia. I think we’re going to see a lot of experiments. With methods like token-based equity fractionalization, we’ll likely see new secondary markets on previously illiquid assets.

One big challenge is the actual custody of physical assets. We might see different variations of these models as well. For instance, you can own a share in a Picasso but it’ll be stored in a museum or private collection. So it’s still in very early stages and there are very different use cases. Tokenizing a $60 collectible is a different problem compared to escalating this to a $10 million mansion. What I think is going to happen is we’re going to see a lot of these smaller projects attempt a lot of the things and this is actually gonna pave the way to broader knowledge.

CC: You mentioned the UI experience. What do you expect to come out next that will help solve this problem?

So I think it’s going to just become more seamless and with way less friction. Before MetaMask came out, everybody was sort of whining of the difficulty in using tokens. We didn’t have the tools. Suddenly, things became so much easier once it was released.

I think the space collectively is going to realize that we need to have some level of centralized systems. I think we might be moving towards centralized systems just in order to gain more popularity and adoption.

CC: With The Non-Fungible Alliance, what are you expecting or hoping to achieve?

There’s a great deal of knowledge apart from software development that we’re pursuing. We really need to collaborate on certain things – the user experience, just sharing what’s worked and what didn’t, effective tools and resources, etc. This was the basic motivation, approaching adoption through not just technology but also through collective initiatives.

The first phase is just getting everybody on one platform and under one roof. Next, we’re trying to onboard industry partners and leverage our network of committed companies. We provide or facilitate. Lastly, we provide resources and nurture knowledge sharing for the sake of education and more.

Most often the incremental changes are more powerful. I think that it’s really important that we get these people to one table and just present some use cases.

I do think these overarching initiatives are super important for all three of the pillars. There’s a lack of cohesion between existing companies – a lack of knowledge sharing and consequently a lack of inflow of knowledge because most of these projects are pretty much started by developers with little to no experience in the space that they’re trying to impact.

CC: NFTs are obviously becoming a larger and larger domain within the creative side of blockchain. What would you say to people that are interested in coming into this space? What do you think it does for creative practice in general?

We’re going to see a lot of new ways to monetize certain things, not just sell on an exchange and so on. There are so many potential ways to connect NFTs to content creators.

NFTs can be presented as paywalls for instance. You can have different models for revenue sharing. I think one of the challenges that people have who have recently entered the space is digesting what we have been talking about for the past year and a half.

The reality is that the space is still very economical. It’s still dominated by developers. I would add that it’s dominated by young developers, which is also a completely different demographic for new people coming in and trying to create value. The reality is, we need to experiment to do that.

CC: How do you think NFT development will be different in 2019?

What we saw for the first maybe six to eight months in 2018 was a lot of copying. There were few substantial projects and real development strategies. CryptoKitties proved that there was obviously a market, but I don’t think that there’s a market for an infinite number of collectibles. But I do think we are now moving in the right direction. Even the simpler collectibles I think realize that they cannot just be a collectible. It has to be a functioning thing that provides more comprehensive value.

I think everybody in this space is trying their best to push forward a bit and we’re going to see a lot of changes and more adoption. But we really shouldn’t be impatient. I think that’s the general picture. We need to build certain tools in order to be able to drive not mass adoption first, but to really build adoption amongst the people who are going to be building end-user applications.

Thank you Urban for the extensive discussion! Be sure to learn more about  0xcert through their interview series and the Non-Fungible Alliance.

The Non-Fungible Alliance:

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