For millennia, the world of art has remained unchanged for the most part. The tradition has always revolved around artists selling their work to museums, galleries, or individual collectors. In return, the artist would get a market value for their work which was often kept in private vaults and only displayed to the public ever so often.
With the advent of NFTs, many artists are now able to take their work and offer it up for sale as a digital collectible. Through these blockchain-enabled digital assets, the artist cannot only maintain ownership of a piece of the art they produce but also gain royalties from sales made in secondary markets.
Undoubtedly, NFTs are changing the contemporary art scene as artists no longer have to rely on galleries and museums as their sole medium through which they can sell their work. This shift in perspective has allowed for greater freedom and choice in the artists’ work while also bringing in new audiences and a new stream of traditional artists to NFTs.
Here is a look at the most famous contemporary artists that have gotten into NFTs lately.
Hirst recently launched “The Currency” project that consists of 10,000 NFTs corresponding to physical prints of his five-year-old artwork now stored in vaults. The NFTs will cost buyers $2,000 per piece and will be available for purchase by the end of the month.
NFTs are changing the world and the art world is increasingly looking toward crypto, however, for Damien Hirst, it’s not all about a get-rich-quick scheme that is portrayed all over the media. The English artist and entrepreneur was once one of the youngest contemporary artists to dominate the U.K. art scene in the 1990s and is the region’s richest living artist, according to reports.
The Currency project is set to blur the lines between fungibility and nonfungibility (especially money and art), as collectors of Hirst’s NFTs will have the choice of either getting the physical painting or the NFT version of the painting. The NFT will be a high-resolution photo of the physical painting.
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Hirst said that he used to give a lot of art away and he would get frustrated whenever people would sell the art.
“I suppose this whole project is like a test. It’s like when you walk downstairs in your house if you got a painting and it’s not long before the spot represents a dollar sign.”
Other highlights of Hirst’s work include a 2008 sale of the “Always Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” project that sold for over $220 million in a direct sale at an auction, as well as the “For the love of God” project that entailed a diamond-encrusted skull which sold for $100 million.
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Hirst said that he was annoyed by applications such as iTunes that take ownership away from musicians and applauded NFTs for their contribution in helping artists maintain ownership of their creations.
With a strong background in contemporary art as well as graphic design, Colin Philip Colbert was already a recognized rising star of the pop art world before he joined the NFT space. The British contemporary artist has even gone as far as receiving the praise of legendary designer André Leon Talley. Colbert got his start as an undergrad at the University of St Andrews in Scotland before moving to London’s then-emerging East End arts scene where he conceptualized the project that would become Lobsteropolis.
Based on Colbert’s initial Lobster University project, Lobsteropolis is a digital city built on Decentraland’s blockchain-based virtual world, featuring composite elements of Colbert’s work from several international art exhibitions, shows and museums.
The ambitious project offers a rare glimpse into an emerging industry that features an intersection between blockchain technology and the art world. It also features an open virtual world environment that allows people to interact with one another and the art.
Already, Colbert’s work has attracted the praise of famous personalities in the world of art, including Simon de Pury, a world-renown art auctioneer and curator, and Charles Saatchi, a contemporary art collector and a businessman.
Colbert said that the digital space enables him to explore the narrative of his art in a new way.
One of Lobsteropolis’ most outstanding features is a hybrid artwork and musical performance feature titled Lob-Ster De-Vo which is a rock band-themed multimedia experience. The city is not just an art exhibition but an interactive virtual world as well. Lobsteropolis pushes the boundaries of both virtual and augmented reality in a gameplay experience that allows users to interact with their peers and create several layers of fantasy.
“Bu Tu Garden” is Huang Heshan’s latest NFT-based real estate art that will be showcased at the Taobao Maker Festival. The young Chinese artist who initially assumed that everything blockchain-related would be “very complicated and troublesome to operate” admits to his surprise that working with nonfungible tokens is way easier.
Huang will be launching his virtual “Bu Tu Garden” project at Taobao Maker Festival, which is an annual event that celebrates Chinese art and entrepreneurship. Taobao, an Alibaba-owned platform, will be showcasing NFTs for the first time since the beginning of the festival in 2016.
Huang’s debut NFT art project is built on the NEAR blockchain protocol and is made of a virtual real-estate landscape that comprises more than 1,000 virtual structures, 300 high-end family villas and another 1,000 parasols.
With a background in fine arts, Huang’s Bu Tu Garden takes after the local tastes of Chinese streets in a wild design filled with vibrantly colored trees, inspired by the story of a fictional real-estate tycoon who is dedicated to building up-market housing for the less fortunate.
Another artist who is making a debut into the NFT landscape is Grimes. Popularly known for her exploration of synth-pop music and experimental art, Grimes recently sold her digital artworks for a staggering $6 million in an auction on Nifty Gateway. The artwork includes a series of one-of-a-kind visual and audio artworks. One particular piece called “Death of the Old” sold for over $350,000. A bulk of the sales amounting to more than $6 million originated from individual pieces of art that comprised thousands of copies, selling for $7,500 each.
The Canadian singer and visual artist already managed to be a critically-acclaimed pop star long before entering the NFT space. Her electronic pop music as well as her relationship with Elon Musk (tech CEO and entrepreneur) has brought her a large following of over 1.9 million people on Instagram. Through her NFT artwork, she showcases her versatile talent in writing, producing and editing her music.
Steve Aoki and Antonio Tudisco
Antoni Tudisco is a creative director and 3D visual artist who was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. He boasts of a background in media management and web design and development, among other fields of study.
The fashion enthusiast and designer has collaborated with top brands like Adidas, Nike, Versace and Puma, and garnered the attention of artists such as Will Smith. He also has his brand TUDISCO STUDIO, which he recently unveiled at a runway show in New York City.
Now, Tudisco is making a debut into the NFT space by collaborating with American music producer and DJ Steve Aoki to create “Dream Catcher.”
So far, the artwork has already earned more than $4.29 million and entails a collection of NFTs that can be redeemed in the form of a physical screen displaying the artwork. Apart from Tudisco, Aoki has also partnered with motivational speaker Tom Bileu in launching the “Neon Future” NFT set.
The intersection of technology and art
While modern art is becoming increasingly augmented with technology, some still believe that there will always be a place for traditional artwork in galleries and auction houses. However, one of the best aspects of NFTs is that they offer an opportunity for new artists to get a market for their art, especially for artists who are not able to enroll in prestigious fine art graduate programs. With NFTs, artists can sell their work directly to collectors and without the need for intermediaries. They no longer have to worry about geographical, financial and educational barriers. Is this the future of contemporary art?
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Watch Jack Mallers Send $10 To El Salvador Via Twitter’s Lightning Tips
This man Jack Mallers has a way of finding himself in the middle of historic transactions. This time, the Strike CEO used the recently unveiled Twitter Tips Lightning integration to send $10 instantly to San Salvador. The person at the other end of the line then uses the money to buy coffee in a little-known independent coffee shop. We’re witnessing the fusion of one of the biggest social networks in the world with Bitcoin’s open monetary network.
I just published Announcing the Strike API
Today, @Twitter enables free, instant, global payments for their users with their integration of the Strike API.
— Jack Mallers (@jackmallers) September 23, 2021
In the linked blog post, Jack Mallers explains the transaction and its significance:
“In the above demo, I sent a $10 tip from my house in Chicago, USA to my friend David in San Salvador, El Salvador. The payment settled instantly for no fee. The singular, open, monetary network that allowed me to send an instant, free, cross-border payment to David is the same singular, open monetary network that allowed David to immediately use that money to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks as soon as he got the Twitter notification that I had sent him money.”
BTC price chart for 09/25/2021 on Exmo | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
The previous time Jack Mallers found himself in the middle of a historic transaction
When Strike’s CEO sent $10 to Nigeria, he described that transaction in terms that also apply to today’s historic transaction.
“If you don’t see how huge this is, think about it as Jack Mallers does. He “didn’t have to register the transfer through a financial intermediary such as Western Union, request private banking details of Bernard Parah, or wait days for the payment to settle.” On the other side, Bernard “didn’t owe any intermediary a percentage of the transaction, the payment wasn’t reversible and settled instantly.”
Bernard Parah’s Bitnob and Strike are interoperable because they both joined an open monetary network, Bitcoin and Lightning. This time, Twitter and its millions of users joined both of those companies. This is immense.
Also, the previous time Jack Mallers proclaimed, “Today, Strike became the best remittance option from the US to Nigeria without even trying.” This time, he feels even more confident:
“Twitter’s integration with the Strike API turns Twitter into one of the best remittance experiences in the world, one of the greatest global creator marketplaces in the world, one of the greatest global payment experiences in the world, one of the best global micropayment marketplaces in the world, and allows an internet communications company to interoperate with the monetary standard for the world, enabling global payments for their users.”
The craziest thing you’ll see today? An instant, free, cross-border payment on @Twitter.
Twitter’s integration with the Strike API turns Twitter into one of the best remittance experiences in the world.
Here’s the view from my phone as I remit money to El Salvador 🥳😄 pic.twitter.com/N6Zcjiv3sy
— Jack Mallers (@jackmallers) September 23, 2021
The Relationship Between Twitter And Strike
On the Strike API’s official site, they describe the product as:
“Connect your business to a global, instant payments network. Marketplaces use Strike’s API to enable payments between buyers and sellers or fans and creators.”
When Bitcoinist announced the integration of a Bitcoin and Lightning tip feature on Twitter, we said:
“Twitter made the announcement today via an official company blog post, where it explained that Twitter users regularly add links in their bios so followers can help support them. Now this is built directly into Twitter.
Twitter has partnered with Jack Mallers’ Strike lightning wallet on the integration. As part of the Twitter Tips launch, Strike has debuted their Strike API platform to “serve marketplace and merchant businesses” like the social media company.”
— Michael Saylor⚡️ (@michael_saylor) September 23, 2021
And in the mentioned blog post, Twitter elaborates:
“In addition to the services currently enabled through Tips, people can now seamlessly tip with Bitcoin using Strike – a payments application built on the Bitcoin Lightning Network that allows people to send and receive Bitcoin. Strike offers instant and free payments globally.”
In this first iteration of Twitter’s Tip feature, you need a Strike account to receive tips. That means, only people in the US and in El Salvador can receive at the moment. Everybody, all over the world can tip them via a Lightning Network invoice, though.
Related Reading | El Salvador And Bitcoin: Jack Mallers Reveals The Inside Scoop
It’s a brand new world out there. Twitter’s Lightning integration might be as big as El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption, as far as onboarding the next millions of users go.
Featured Image: screenshot from Jack Maller's video | Charts by TradingView
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DeFi: Who, what and how to regulate in a borderless, code-governed world?
Hold onto your hats, boys and girls! It’s a new world — a financial system without intermediaries, that anyone can access 24 hours a day with only a mobile phone and a wallet! As Julien Bouteloup said to me:
“In DeFi, what we are building is fully decentralised technology, fully transparent, run by mathematics. No one can beat that.”
He continued: “We are building on research papers, 40 years of research, fundamental research, discrete mathematics being built and put on-chain that no one can beat. You cannot beat that. GitHub didn’t exist in the ‘90s. First, the fact that we’re going at the speed of light, is because everything is open source, and everyone can participate.”
A Novum Insights report stated back in August that since 2020, the DeFi market has grown by a factor 40, with the total value locked in DeFi at around $61 billion at the time (while the current TVL stands at around $165 billion). Stablecoins’ capitalization, an important part of DeFi, grew in the first half of 2021 to $112 billion.
Massive gains are being made but, at the same time, DeFi investors are also losing money because DeFi is not regulated, moderated, intermediated, hosted or validated by a central authority, only driven by smart contracts. So if a smart contract fails or is attacked, consumers have no remedy. Loretta Joseph, global digital asset regulatory expert, said to me: “Regulators protect consumers and investors. In DeFi, you don’t have any intermediaries to regulate, so it’s totally P2P. The question is how it will be regulated in the future. People are going to get scammed. When people start to get scammed, the first thing they do is complain to the regulator.”
Indeed, since 2019, DeFi protocols have lost about $285 million to hacks and other exploit attacks. And as the experts stated, the majority of hacks were due to developer incompetence and coding mistakes. That’s significant when the sector is entirely reliant on the code.
The challenges of regulation
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Hester Peirce said in an interview with Forkast.News about DeFi back in February: “It’s going to be challenging to us because most of the way we regulate is through intermediaries, and when you really build something that’s decentralized, there’s no intermediary. It’s great for resilience of a system. But it’s much harder for us when we’re trying to go in and regulate to figure out how to do that.”
Regulatory concerns tend to be around the volatility of crypto markets as contrasted with government-backed fiat currency, the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing, the unregulated nature of the market, and the absence of recourse for financial losses. Nonfungible tokens are exploding, generating excitement, confusion, legal questions and massive gains. NFT markets are also attracting large crypto transactions, which will likely bother regulators, who may see the big money moves in NFTs as money laundering. At a macro level, the decentralization of the financial system and the ability to manage economic stability and protect consumer interests poses a further challenge to regulators.
DeFi decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are popular as a means of transferring cryptocurrencies across different blockchains. This supports crypto lending and yield farming. DAOs, by conservative estimates, oversee more than $543 million. In a DAO, information technology governance and corporate governance are one and the same. The organization is governed and operated by smart contracts, which are monitored and enforced by algorithms. The code both governs and executes. Should the algorithms fail, who then is responsible?
In a joint article, dubbed “Regulating Blockchain, DLT and Smart Contracts: a technology regulator’s perspective,” a group of researchers outline some key points to consider: (1) the importance of identifying central points which can be used to apply regulation to, such as miners, core software developers, end users. They even raise the potential for governmental or regulatory players to be potential participants; (2) issues of identifying liability — could core software developers be held to account?; (3) the challenges with the immutability and lack of update-ability of smart contracts; and (4) the need for quality assurance and technology audit processes.
It is expected that exchanges and wallet providers will be a focus for regulators. Decentralized exchanges allow users to trade directly from their wallets in a P2P manner without intermediaries. Global money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has exchanges in their sights. Christopher Harding, the chief compliance officer of Civic, noted that the FATF proposed guidelines which suggest that DApps will need to comply with country-specific laws enforcing FATF, AML, and Counter-Terrorism Financing requirements.
A recent review of 16 leading exchange platforms by the London School of Economics and Political Science found that just four were subject to a significant level of regulation related to trading, so there is a clear gap. Getting listed on any major exchange now requires a project to have passed auditing, but meaningful security doesn’t end there. Toby Lewis, CEO of Novum Insights, made the point:
“Also, remember that smart contracts can be attacked. Even if they are audited, it does not give you a guarantee that it will be exploit-free. Do your own research before you start.”
In an open-source environment where projects are developing at an average compound growth rate of 20% per year, finding just the right moment to regulate, wherein people are protected from risk but innovation is not constrained, is a classic problem to solve. Some governments have addressed achieving this balance by using regulatory sandboxes (U.K., Bermuda, India, South Korea, Mauritius, Australia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore), while some have gone straight to legislating (San Marino, Bermuda, Malta, Liechtenstein).
Far from resisting regulation, leading DeFi figures embrace it as part of the maturing of the industry. In an interview with Cointelegraph, Stani Kulechov, the founder of DeFi lending platform Aave, suggests that peer review will be the future: “Auditors are not here to guarantee the security of a protocol, merely they help to spot something that the team itself wasn’t aware of. Eventually it’s about peer review and we need to find as a community incentives to empower more security experts into the space.” In the same article, Emeliano Bonassi spoke about ReviewsDAO, a peer review forum for connecting security experts with projects looking for reviews. Bonassi sees potential for this to become a learning opportunity where people with specialized knowledge can contribute to improving the security of the ecosystem.
Tan Tran, CEO of Vemanti Group, suggested: “Going forward, I do see accelerated adoption of platforms with permissionless financial products and services that can be used by anyone anywhere, but each will be governed by a regulated-party with centralized control to ensure accountability and compliance. This is not about stopping innovation. It’s more about deterring bad actors from exploiting unsophisticated consumers.” Giving an expert opinion on DeFi to Cointelegraph, Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block.one, concluded: “The real winners in the digital economy will be those that think long-term and take the time to ensure their products meet jurisdictional and professional service requirements.”
It certainly looks like exchanges and software developers could be in the sights of regulators. We anticipate regulators will look for ways to improve technology quality assurance processes and DeFi governance, which can only be done in conjunction with the industry. Mark Taylor emphasized that regulators need to continue to work in partnership with crypto industry players to protect consumers.
Julien Bouteluop explained: “We are actually building, in DeFi, everything that traditional finance has, but faster, stronger, more transparent and accessible by everyone that’s here. It’s really different. It means that anyone in the world can access technology and doesn’t need to ask permission from anyone. I think it’s necessary to push for innovation, and to build a better world.”
Who, what and how do we regulate in this global 24/7, borderless market? This is a whole new ball game. Regulators and industry will need to work hand in hand.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Jane Thomason is a thought leader on blockchain for social impact. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Queensland. She has had multiple roles with the British Blockchain & Frontier Technologies Association, the Kerala Blockchain Academy, the Africa Blockchain Center, the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies, Frontiers in Blockchain, and Fintech Diversity Radar. She has written multiple books and articles on Blockchain. She has been featured in Crypto Curry Club’s Top 100 Women in Crypto, the Decade of Women Collaboratory’s Top 10 Digital Frontier Women, Lattice’s Top 100 Fintech Influencers for SDGs, and Thinkers360’s Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Blockchain.
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Deutsche Bank’s analyst says bitcoin will be ‘ultra violate,’ but it is here to stay.
Marion Laboure, an analyst at Deutsche Bank’s research division, said she could envision Bitcoin taking the role of digital gold in the future: lasting for centuries and largely not controlled by the government. Laboure said she could “potentially see Bitcoin become the 21st-century digital gold” but warned investors against the crypto asset’s volatility. According to the analyst, most Bitcoin (BTC) purchases are made for investments and speculation rather than keeping the coins for a medium of exchange.
The analyst expects Bitcoin to remain ultra-volatile in the foreseeable future.
“Just a few additional large purchases or market exits can significantly impact the supply-demand equilibrium,” said Laboure. “Bitcoin is too volatile to be a reliable store of value today. And I expect it to remain ultra-volatile in the foreseeable future,” the analyst noted. Though the Deutsche Bank analyst expressed concern about the lack of regulation over cryptocurrencies and their potential impact on the environment, she hinted that Bitcoin would likely remain the dominant cryptocurrency in the crypto space.
“If Bitcoin is sometimes called ‘digital gold,’ Ethereum would then be the ‘digital silver.”
Ethereum may have more use cases in decentralized finance and with the rise in non-fungible tokens, but Bitcoin still enjoys its “first-mover advantage.” “If Bitcoin is sometimes called ‘digital gold,’ Ethereum would then be the ‘digital silver,” the analyst opined. Earlier, Deutsche Bank analysts described Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency “too important to ignore, ” suggesting that the crypto asset price would likely rise with additional asset managers and companies entering the market. In 2019, the financial institution predicted that digital currencies would replace fiat by 2030.
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