97 use cases of NFTs
More than just silly jpegs
Many people claim that NFTs are just a fad, and that they have no use-case beyond fooling naive people into buying million dollar monkeys to compensate for the time they went to prom alone.
I'm here to argue otherwise. I think most people are unaware of the possibilities that NFTs can have, and both the ignorant naysayers & the optimistic hodlers haven't fully grasped the seismic shift this simple technology can bring. The latter still stands to win if they keep playing the long-term game, and aren't dissuaded into joining the side that seems to always be right in the short-term.
So, without further ado, here's a list of all the use-cases I see, in no particular order :-
1/1 Digital Art - Artists are no longer bound to a local audience, and can reach different niches of a global audience to monetize their work.
Collector DAOs - Collectors can form DAOs to collectively own own art.
Prompt Art - Where unique & complex prompts are sold as NFTs to collectors, only visible when the NFT is fed into AI generation tools. As AI generation tools improve, the art evolves over time.
Gated Access - Where collectors receive gated access to an artist based on the artworks that they hold in their wallet. Like Patreon, but decentralized & permissionless.
Collective Art - Where a group collectively creates & mints artworks, an NFT version of reddit's r/place.
AI generated art - Where AI generation tools randomly selects the highest weighted prompts over a particular period of time to generate NFTs, to be bought & owned by only those who generated those prompts.
Art Liquidity Pools - Where liquidity pools are created for artworks falling on a similar price-scale, or created by the artist or based on a niche, to facilitate randomized buying of artworks without knowing what they're paying for.
Procedural editions - Where editions of NFTs generate new artworks procedurally from the initial artwork that was bought.
Gated Art - Where artworks are gated, and can be only be bought based on the specified tokens or assets held in the buyer's wallet.
Art prediction markets - While buying an artwork might feel like a bet on the artist's long term success, markets will evolve to codify this need in the form of prediction markets for artists & artworks, resulting in a new market for art NFTs.
Artworks that scale - As cost of minting & transferring go down, it'll be easier for a single artist to mint 100k-10M artworks, enough to airdrop everyone in a small town. Artists doing this will benefit from the added exposure, while the subgroup that receives this will be more incentivized to host artists. Innovations like compressed NFTs & AI tools that make creation faster will soon enable this.
Artwork Editions - Artworks can have editions, allowing people to own multiple editions of the same artwork, where the edition number (like 4/38) is on-chain. Editions of a certain number (1/72 or 13/13) will end up being priced by the markets differently.
Art based on Buyer-input NFTs - Interactive artworks that buyers can change based on how they interact with it.
Location-Based Artworks - Artworks that change based on the buyer’s geo-location. Among the 195 countries, an artwork with just 20-50 variations is enough to serve most of the popular places in the world.
Environment-Based Artworks - Artworks that use on-chain data to weather services, etc. to change based on the conditions of the buyer’s environment.
Art that decays - Art that uses on-chain data of wallet transfer to disappear or decay over time the more it is transferred.
Art that appears - Artists depending on creator royalties can use on-chain data to track transfers and codify the same to make the artwork appear over time once it has been traded N number of times.
Art that combines - Artworks that are meant to change in the presence of other relevant artworks in the buyer’s wallet.
Art that grows - Artworks can be programmed to evolve based on the buyer’s on-chain health data.
Art that dies - Artworks programmed to be deleted when the buyer/creator dies, by on-chain tracking of their health data.
Art that mints - Artworks can be programmed to mint fungible tokens to the buyer’s wallet over a certain period of time.
Art as collateral - Artworks can be used as collateral, and there would exist specific lending protocols to facilitate this.
AR art - Artworks designed to function in augmented reality can be used either as standalone artworks or used to complement existing physical artworks or even specific physical spaces.
In-Game assets - In-Game assets as NFTs ensure decentralized ownership of the assets, while also facilitating the buying & selling of such assets.
In-Game credentials - In-game credentials can both be used as a decentralized identifier of skills, or for decentralized access to spaces with people of similar tiers.
Cross-game assets - Variations of sub-games based on the same protocol can leverage the same game-assets as NFTs and make onboarding easier.
Cross-game credentials - Games with a similar gameplay and skill progression systems can easily onboard players of different skill levels and provide them with the adequate amount of difficulty that they are used to.
Decentralized MMORPGs - The above four can be used to create fairer & open-source MMORPGs where players aren’t censored, assets aren’t stolen & skills are verifiable on-chain. Gamers tend to spend a significant portion of their time in grinding and building up their characters in MMORPGs, and there should exist a considerable demand for such a fair system where they know their time is spent well & not at the mercy of one single source.
Collectibles - By far the most popular use-case at the moment, just the act of a collection of NFTs sharing similar attributes allows creators to create a shared sense of community behind a specific idea or niche.
Character NFTs - Collectibles as in-game characters are a popular use-case, where buying the character NFT allows you to play as the character in the game.
Trophy NFTs - NFTs as trophies or rewards for achievement is an important use-case in gaming, and used quite often to validate victory on-chain.
NFTs as trading cards - NFTs can be used as trading card games, and further innovations in the NFC space can enable physical trading cards to be verified on-chain, while also providing detailed stats about each card.
AR games - NFTs in AR games can not only prove ownership of specific characters or assets in augment reality, but also simulate entire gameplays based on the combination of different NFTs based on how they’re programmed to interact with one another.
Save-file NFTs - As open-world games get more complex, especially in an era of AI-generated custom storylines, the demand for niche possibilities & timelines should rise exponentially. Players can monetize their in-game progress if the save-files are also NFTs, meant to be traded & bid on by those who seek a similar adventure.
NFTs in DeFi - All decentralized financial instruments that exist for fungible tokens would exist for NFTs too, and many new ones would emerge just to serve this NFT space. We currently see this trend taking place as Automated Market Makers like SudoSwap continue to take market share from conventional NFT marketplaces.
Contract NFTs - NFTs of financial contracts that execute code based on certain parameters can be used to simulate real-world financial contracts far more efficiently. Trading, buying & selling these contract NFTs should have a large market of their own.
Credit-Score as NFTs - A non-transferrable NFT capable of tracking wallet portfolios would eventually predict the financial reliability of the wallet owner, letting institutions & applications know whether the user is a reliable borrower or not. Similar NFTs kept in different wallets would let institutions have a zero-knowledge idea of a borrower’s reliability, without needing access to all the borrower’s active wallets.
Fractional NFTs - High Priced NFTs can be fractionalized to let more than one person participate in the upside potential of the NFT, while letting the NFT owner benefit from adding liquidity to his previously illiquid asset.
Dex NFTs - Recent innovations in NFTs allowing them to run tokenized code can lead to the introduction of decentralized exchanges inside wallets natively, without needing a hosting provider.
NFTs for one-time accreditation - Non-transferrable NFTs can be issued by institutions to accredited investors, allowing them to participate in DeFi applications across the space that requires such accreditations, but also prevents all such DeFi applications from getting to know the user’s personal/private information. Only the institution that issues such an NFT has the knowledge of the investor.
NFTs as on-ramps - NFTs can facilitate fiat on-ramps directly from inside the wallet, provided the wallet is KYC’d by an exchange.
NFTs as off-ramps - Similarly, NFTs can facilitate fiat off-ramps directly from inside the wallet, removing the need to go through exchanges for the same procedure.
Financial Insurance NFTs - Insurance providers can issue non-transferrable NFTs that takes advantage of the wallet’s on-chain history to properly price in the yearly subscriptions.
NFTs for Health Insurance - Biometric data being on-chain or issued by biometric health tracking apps can facilitate such zk-insurance applications.
Car Insurance NFTs - Cars which track driving history can issue NFTs based on the competence of drivers enabling zk-car insurance companies to efficiently price in the insurance.
AR clothes NFTs - NFTs as clothing items would emerge as AR gets better & more accessible. As virtual fashion becomes the dominant trend, NFTs signifying ownership would help create an emerging market for virtual clothes & clothing brands.
VR clothes as NFTs: Similar to AR, VR brands can issue clothes as NFTs whether they’re specific to a VR world like Rec Room, Decentraland or Horizon Worlds.
Luxury NFTs: As the data about Luxury goods & clothing goes on-chain, virtual luxury goods would become the defacto standard for luxury, as the supply of every item & collection, and by extension- the scarcity of such items, can be verified on-chain. Brands resorting to fixing the supply of such goods through smart contracts would gain the benefit of retail trust as code is law & they won’t be able to inflate the existing supply, even if they want to in the future.
Pay-to-Stream NFTs: Music NFTs can be programmed to use microtransaction mechanics to reward musicians.
Royalty-sharing NFTs: Musicians can choose to issue royalty-sharing NFTs that rewards their NFT holders with a percentage of their total royalty.
Music label NFTs: Music labels can issue NFTs to artists for every song that they issue, resulting in artists getting a constant daily revenue stream, instead of waiting for months or quarters for the same.
Band NFTs: NFTs can be issued to each member of a band & programmed with immutable royalties to make sure everyone gets paid in a transparent manner. Such contracts would become more commonplace with the rise of pseudonymous musicians.
Remix Rights NFTs: Musicians choose to sell exclusive remix rights of their NFTs to fellow musicians. NFTs which exist as applications to facilitate this inside wallets will end up reducing hours of friction and win over the remix market.
Synchronization Rights NFTs: Musicians or music labels can sell the synchronization rights to movie studios or indie directors who want to use their music in their works.
DAO-created Music NFTs: DAOs can create & collectively vote on different parts of a song like intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge, publish this song on-chain as an NFT, and collectively receive royalties earned from the music sales & streaming.
Physical NFT NFC stickers: Stickers or NFT tags with NFCs can be placed on shipment containers and goods, and the whole physical supply chain can be tracked on-chain with accurate, transparent results.
NFT domain names: Domain names, unique by design, are the perfect use-case for perpetually owning domains in a secure, transparent & permissionless manner. The same can be traded & ownership can be tracked on-chain.
Subdomain NFTs: Once domain names are bought, subdomain NFTs can be issued from the high demand domain names, leading to a new sub-market. NFT editions can facilitate this but a new standard is needed in most chains for that.
Domain renting: A renting market will emerge for domain names that are owned perpetually, thus leading to the same domain business model that we see in Web2.
Fractional domain NFTs: Not only does this allow domain name owners to add liquidity to existing high-demand NFT names that they own, but fractional domain name owners can also participate in the rent income if the NFT is rented out.
Property deed NFTs: When each property deed is an NFT, it adds liquidity to a 11 trillion dollar industry. As cost of financial computation goes exponentially lower, this is the logical step. States can receive royalties from each sale, thereby incentivizing them to let go of inefficient illiquid markets & adopt the efficient one.
Rent NFTs: Rent NFTs can be minted from property deed NFTs either by facilitating the permanent staking of property deed NFTs, or by explicit approval of state actors, leading to a new market for those who either seek to rent or speculate on the rental price of property. It would also facilitate a permissionless steady income for owners who choose to go this route, leading to an efficient & decentralized version of today’s market.
Fractional Property deed NFTs: Fractional NFTs of real estate properties will allow anyone to add liquidity to existing properties that they own to allow retail to participate, especially if the price for the real estate is too high.
Real Estate DAO NFTs: DAOs can collectively vote & own real estate NFTs all over the world, and provide gated access to these properties for the DAO members. Such forms of community crowdfunding at scale would eventually lead to the formation of network states.
Virtual real estate NFTs: NFTs for real estate in virtual worlds would be an equally efficient market, and perhaps be more popular than the physical real estate market. As digital lives become more important than our physical ones, the real estate in virtual lands would be more sought after than the physical real estate.
RE NFTs in DeFi: Almost all decentralized financial instruments like lending, borrowing, liquidity pools, futures, options, etc that work for fungibles & NFTs will be reimagined & implemented for real estate NFTs.
MBS NFT: Mortgage-backed securities can be issued as NFTs by institutions leading to a transparent analysis of all buyers & sellers of such securities & facilitate the decentralized trading of such NFTs.
Proof-Of-Identity NFT: A non-transferrable NFT issued when identity is proven can be used for KYC, identifying humanity, etc.
zk-Proof of Humanity NFT: Zero knowledge methods of verification of humanity and issuing NFTs for successful verification not only has the benefits of proving that someone is human, but also ends up preserving people’s privacy at scale.
Social Graph NFT: The social graph can be coded as an NFT, allowing people to take their graphs with them to every platform that supports it.
Pseudonym NFT: Pseudonyms built up with reputations over time would be tradeable, in the same way pfp NFTs are traded now. Transferring the NFT would also transfer over access rights programmatically to the buyer for the relevant platforms where the pseudonym has leverage.
Event Ticketing: Event ticketing is a perfect use-case for NFTs as it both brings down supply chain costs and is an immutable record of presence at any event. This also ends up being a more efficient process as it roots out rent-seeking middlemen & reduces costs of service.
AR NFT Tickets: AR glasses can allow access to experiences at certain locations to only those who hold the AR NFT tickets. This means, while a warehouse may look like a random warehouse to the vast majority, those with the NFT tickets will be able to see the event happening inside the warehouse, and verifiably get access to it.
Degree/Certificate NFTs: Degrees or Certificate NFTs issued by educational institutions are a far superior form of validation than the current system. They can be verified on-chain, exist forever immutably, and serve to prove access to prospective employers throughout life, eliminating cases of fraud & forgery.
Degree NFTs for Pseudonymous students: As educational institutes adapt to serve the demand for global & remote education, the pseudonymous creed of students who want to get accredited can be issued NFTs as degrees, without the need to know any personally identifiable information of such students.
Certificate NFTs for programming: Competency in any programming language can be calculated through algorithms going through commit histories, which can then be issued to programmers verifiably proving their competence in any language.
Initial Mint Offering: Similar to ICOs & a very popular fundraising strategy for multiple collectible projects right now, is selling out 10,000-100,000 NFTs at a fixed price, at a specific time that’s decided by the project. This has led to projects raising anywhere between 500k to 10M USD, while also building an initial community that believes in the project.
Early Adopter Branding
NFTs as early status signal: Established companies entering this space & offering NFTs at a fixed price would end up creating the most value for these early adopters if they continue to iterate on the NFT’s utility. While most independent projects don’t have the bandwith to survive bear market cycles, large corporations can just continue to live off their main cashflow businesses, letting their NFT holders perpetually hold the earliest NFTs throughout time.
NFTs in memetic warfare: In the age of TikTok & 15 second attention spans, the more outrage you generate, the more attention you’ll get. Sooner or later, social media platforms would start to take off these content, because outrageous content tend to roughly infuriate 40-60% of the population, while being enjoyed by the remaining. Advanced AI’s will soon be able to record keywords & track context to accurately predict outrageous content & deplatform such users. NFTs as memes ensures that such content stays forever, speech remains uncensored only to be countered with better speech, and political alignments on both sides would choose the decentralized alternatives.
NFTs to start new countries: The current form of democracy is essentially a dictatorship for 49% of the people that didn’t vote for the ruling leader of the nation. The only way around this is to create new countries, network states, where people opt-in as citizens, and can exit by the click of a button whenever they want, ushering in an era of 100% democracy. These network states can leverage NFTs as citizenship certificates & then use them for governance & voting.
NFTs for political alignment: Non-transferrable NFTs claimed by political supporters would be equivalent of getting a tattoo, a display of a forever-vote-of-confidence in a party’s ideals. Political parties can bootstrap out of these grassroots supporters & use the additional funding to gain national traction.
Political AR NFTs in public: When political sigils are seen only through AR lenses, NFTs can enable that they’re only visible to those sharing the same political alignment, leading to a new era of signalling political identity in the physical world.
Loyalty NFTs: Brands giving away NFTs with the first purchase can choose to use these NFTs to build loyal customers by airdropping NFTs & tokens in the future, and by rewarding repeat customers with discounts & gifts. Such a trend is already taking place among brands like Starbucks, Budweiser, etc.
Fan tokens: NFTs can be used as fan tokens, specially representing each player of a team or club, and allow fans to be a part of the governance process.
Attendance NFTs: Attendance NFTs can be issued to everyone who watch the game live, either in-person, verifiably at the gate or on-chain, or through tracking watchtime of every individual person streaming the game. Such NFTs are an on-chain proof of the “I was there when X happened,” and thus, it’ll align incentives and make more people support their favorite teams & reward those who do.
NFTs in the transfer market: Players tokenized as NFTs will enable retail to participate in the transfer market, allowing for an entirely new source of revenue for clubs & teams.
NFTs in e-Sports: As Web3 gaming improves to include AAA titles, E-sports will be the first major adopter of NFTs. This’d enable the audience to invest in their favorite player, invest in prediction markets related to the price of such investments & participate in the upside of their favorite players.
NFTs as votes: NFT holders of a DAO can each vote for different proposals in DAO, through either the number of NFTs they hold or the number of tokens they stake behind each NFT to add weight to their singular vote. Such a method of decentralized distributed governance hasn’t been possible since the history of humanity, and is likely to stay relevant for a long time.
Research Papers as NFTs: The current rent-seeking model of popular publications & journals have been widely criticized as being extractive by the scientific community. Journals that adopt publishing research papers as NFTs would ensure that access to scientific research remains open to all, leading to a better world where collaboration thrives without extractive middlemen.
DeepLinking Citations: Citations in an NFT research paper can directly be clicked to open them, reducing friction and allowing better navigation through large volumes of research papers.
Executable NFT research papers: NFTs capable of running tokenized code should be able to call code-snippets in the same or other NFT papers, resulting in a fully composable ecosystem of research papers that not only inform but demonstrate the points they’re presenting.
NFTs in Decentralized Science: The deSci movement has been gaining traction lately, and it is growing doubly relevant for reasons like not enough funding for important pursuits, regulatory roadblocks, etc. NFTs in deSci help ensure that the community is aligned behind a common purpose and ready to fund pursuits that matter to them like reversing aging (VitaDAO), genome sequencing (GenomeDAO), study effects of food & aging (CureDAO), etc.
Intellectual Property NFTs: NFTs representing rights to intellectual property, and NFT marketplaces facilitating the buying/selling of these patents or rights would be an extremely relevant use-case for NFTs in the near future.
Genome NFTs: The human genome is fixed & unchanging, and thus minting them on the blockchain as an NFT makes perfect sense. Wide adoption of this practice would lead to decentralized, trusted versions of genome tracking products like 23AndMe, who have been known to sell customer data to third parties. If there is enough demand for this data, users minting their genomes on the blockchain would stand to monetize & profit from it.
BioMarker NFTs: NFTs tracking health data & storing that on-chain can reduce supply chain costs of healthcare and apps can easily leverage this data to provide actionable insights more efficiently than current closed-source or state-backed products.
That’s all for now, but I’ll keep updating this list once I send this to my friends and they tell me use cases that I haven’t added here. If you made it to the end, feel free to drop a comment and let me know if I missed any.
I’m sure I did.