More than one in 30 French people have already bought NFTs, according to a recent Ifop survey for Cointribune. And among 1,824-year-olds, one in two people have heard of NFTs. If today these three little consonants are on everyone’s lips, many enthusiasts and newbies are unaware of certain building blocks of the history of NFTs. Let’s go back to five of them.
1/ It all started… with cats!
If forms of NFTs started circulating… already in 2014, it is thanks to the CryptoKitties phenomenon that NonFungible Tokens (NFTs) are developing massively. This game launched in December 2017 proposes to collect unique cats on the blockchain and mate them to create new little felines, then inheriting the characteristics of their parents. Any animal can be sold or traded there for Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain.
In May 2018, one of these virtual cats was even bought at an auction for $140,000 by Igor Barinov, a Russian politician.
2/ Rapper Booba was the first French artist to democratize NFTs in the music industry
In 2021, the artist Booba, who is very involved in the cryptocurrency sector, has put up for sale five digital cards that give access to his latest title: “TN”. Each virtual item was released in 5,000 copies, for a total of 25,000 NFTs. Anyone in possession of at least one digital token had exclusive access, from November 8, 2021 at 18:00, to the song “TN” as well as the clip of the song. On Nov. 6, the French rapper announced on his Twitter account that all 25,000 NFTs had been sold, two days before the end of the sale. Each digital card was sold at the price of 0.006 Ether (ETH), equal to a turnover of 150 ETH (564,000 euros at the current price).
3/ A slice of NFT pizza sold for $8,824
Every everyday object can be dematerialized in the form of an NFT, even a slice of pizza! In March 2021, the American fast food chain Pizza Hut decided to invest in the Rarible platform by marketing digital pizza slices with the aim of promoting four of its new pizzas. And the least we can say is that they were snapped up! Initially selling for 0.0001 ETH, or about 18 cents, one of the shares was quickly put back on the market for 5 ETH, or $8,824.07.
4/ In October 2022, Paris opened its first center dedicated to NFTs
Located just opposite the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture in the heart of Paris, the NFT Factory covers almost 400m2 of the French NFT ecosystem. An art gallery, an educational lab that allows people to buy NFTs, a networking space for industry professionals, this venue also features events such as crypto art panel discussions, regulatory and entrepreneurship debates, and even a “Crypto Comedy Club.” The goal: to create emulation in this emerging market. “With global players in the culture, gaming and luxury industries, France has everything it needs to become a European and global NFT platform. We must accompany this movement with the support of public money, within the framework of France 2030“, explained the Minister Delegate for Digital Transition JeanNoël Barrot during the inauguration of the NFT Factory in October 2022.
5/ The energy consumption of a single NFT would be 340 kWh, i.e. the monthly electricity consumption of a European citizen
To understand why NFTs pollute, we have to go back up the “chain”. When you decide to create an NFT, be it a text, a graphic creation or even a video, you will first use digital creation tools such as Photoshop or Illustrator for example. Once the medium is created, it will need to be hosted in a decentralized and dematerialized way on the web and finally run a smart contract (contract that relies on Blockchain technology to make their terms and conditions of their executions tamper-proof) to be able to implement it on a blockchain like Ethereum or Solana.
It is through this type of platform that your NFT can then be marketed through the use of cryptocurrencies, a virtual currency that has a strong environmental impact. Producing a Bitcoin requires the use of very powerful and above all energy-hungry computers. According to a study published by the University of Cambridge, the Bitcoin ecosystem accounts for 127 TWh year-on-year, more than the consumption of Norway or Argentina.
Added to this is the same NFT technology. In fact, even the servers used to host the works and the technologies needed for auctions have a heavy impact, still difficult to estimate accurately. According to the artist and engineer Memo Akten, the energy consumption of a single NFT would be 340 kWh, which is the monthly electricity consumption of a European citizen.