The year 2021 has started with the meteoric rise of Bitcoin and the following ascension of its fellow-token, Ethereum. What this irrefutably points at is the decentralized economy is embarking on another rally, this time much higher in altitude than the year back. This is strongly evidenced by the dynamics of decentralized finance (or, shortly, DeFi) – just a few days ago, it raised to the pedestal of $42.7 billion, far from the tiny portion of $275 million back in 2019. At the cornerstone of its structure, DeFi integrates such advanced trends as AI, which is likely to push the global adoption pace forward. All in all, at this point of evolution, the question is not whether DeFi will be a part of the global economy, but rather, how creatively and speedily it will be able to conduct the global scaling campaign.
Defining role in this enterprise is set aside for emerging trends like Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs. Built on one of the two Ethereum token standards – ERC-721 or ERC-1155, these tokens possess unique characteristics that cannot be reiterated, in contrast to fungible tokens. Reaching the value exceeding $250 million by 2020, this latest blockchain economy progression is predicted to turn ecstatic in 2021.
But even having said so, art is not the only factor that makes the NFT market flourish. The latest testament to this is the emergence of the so-called ‘meme economy’ – the term used to describe the framework for those who aspire to buy or sell memes. Kick-started by Chris Tarres, the artist-creator who recently sold the internet rattler Nyan Cat for $600K (or 300 ETH), the idea of creating memes and trading them on a blockchain is promised to transform into a new obsession. For developers, this means that they will finally be appraised in full for the work spent on programming and design. For a wider community, that would give an opportunity to own a meme.
Now, another project is gleaming on the horizon. EtherCards, the project aimed at building the platform with value-maximizing opportunities for NFTs, is an equally-valued lucky find for both creators and artists, as well as fans of a new generation of online entertainment delivered by blockchain. Intending to expand the marketplace as well as to allure more creative artists, EtherCard constructed a system where everyone may participate in building blocks for ticketing, puzzles, bounties and various other utilities, as well as get rewarded for that.
Seizing a chance to speak with Andras Kristof, the Founder of the project himself, I decided to bring to the table the discussion about the future of the global economy, evolving trends of DeFi, blockchain-led transformation and a growing movement of NFTs.
I’m delighted that you chose to participate in the interview. Let’s begin with the following question: what role will you give to DeFi in shaping the post-pandemic future economy?
Hi, thanks for inviting me! I think, what we definitely have to be mindful of is that from now onwards, we won’t talk about the global economy without mentioning DeFi. The reason is very simple - DeFi is the driver of innovation, the motor behind large-scale global change. There, we talked about numerous DApps that came to exist last year, and are still entering the market. DeFi grew the altcoin market into a more attractive ecosystem, which is now alluring the most talented and forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are able to make their impact. Besides, the European Commission is about to draw the first comprehensive DeFi regulation by 2022 - that is a major step on the way of legitimization and institualization of DeFi.
What is your vision of the world in 2021? How long will it take to rebuild the economic system after the disastrous pandemic crash, and what changes are we likely to see?
That’s still hard to say how this year will turn out to be, but if we will not be struck by several other waves of the pandemic, it is quite possible that we will notice a lot of changes around us. First - institutional adoption of cryptocurrency. More and more companies will follow the example of Tesla and make bitcoin or ether their payment currency, just because of their awareness. Secondly, many of the DeFi solutions will start being practiced on the wider scale, and blockchain capabilities will play the role. I think, it won’t take too much time to realize that decentralized technology is cheaper, faster, more secure and transparent. What I’d say, only after people recognize the capabilities of blockchain and start applying them in practice we can talk about the economic recovery.
With growing market confidence in cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular, can we count on rapid institutional adoption? In your opinion, what sparks more interest for the COVID-damaged businesses – is it cryptocurrency, or the technology behind it?
Yes, definitely yes. Now that big titans are jumping into it, we will see the trend quickly spreading around. I’d say, it’s a bit irrational when we consider the fees of Bitcoin blockchain and the time it takes to process the transaction, but nevertheless, its popularity will play the key role. And what I think, it will definitely take some time before institutions start exploring some other cheaper and better technologically-equipped alternatives, just because nobody talks about them now so much as of Bitcoin. So, in the short run, the loud names like Bitcoin is a game-changer, but in the long term, the technology itself is going to be a final say.
In your opinion, how can technological developments of Smart concepts and the Internet of Things (IoT) be synchronized with blockchain technology? How will it affect the capabilities of data transfer and exchange, and how they will be reflected in the trajectory of economic development?
I actually see these two in the future developing hand-in-hand. Smart concepts are all about the data exchange, but what can be better and more efficient than the blockchain-powered data exchange? It can even be automated via smart contracts. It will be a powerful combination if one day IoT or Smart concepts will fully be based on the technological foundation of decentralized technology. It just will become more efficient and eventually will enable scaling opportunities.
What role do you see NFTs playing out in the context of DeFi? Besides that, what are emerging trends in NFTs you’d suggest to keep an eye on?
There’s so many usage opportunities for NFTs, if we think of it. Right now, we mostly hear of leveraging them as digital collectibles, but this can go so much beyond. For instance, the growingly popular way is to use it for real estate acquisition - or, rather, for a part of it. Buyers can acquire a share of ownership via NFTs, and this way become possessors of the real-estate segment. Not to mention that it can effectively be used in supply chain management. Overall, everything that has a unique string of records can successfully be transformed in NFTs. It will definitely push DeFi beyond its current limits.
Having in mind the loud incident of the CryptoKitties-blamed Ethereum crash, how have blockchain capabilities - especially that of Ethereum - improved since then? Can NFTs someday be based on other blockchain networks?
It’s been a long time since the CryptoKitties scandal, and Ethereum was quick to respond to that challenge. It came up with Layer 2 protocols, which is meant to expand the capacity of the former Layer 1 and add more efficiency to the game. L2 was a big success - it is now used by the most forward-thinking DeFi projects and allows to avoid the problems of congestion in the way it used to be with CryptoKitties. If we look into the future, I don’t exclude the possibility of NFTs basing on another network, not at all; rather, what it has to do is to make a worthy competition to the already well-equipped Ethereum.
Could you say a few comments about the meme economy? Do you see any advantages of it for your project?
The term itself came to exist after the Nyan Cat was put up for sale by the artist who created it. I think, what we can infer from this is that creators will soon be able to auction their works of art, while previously we all just took for granted that their authorship rights are not very well-acknowledged. This is the fundamental change brought by the meme economy, and our project is EtherCards is aiming to offset the same drawback - the lack of compensation. From this point onwards, everybody will be credited for their work. That’s the whole point of existence of our project, and the whole point of existence of the meme economy.
For those who are interested in creating a value-generating applications on top of your platform, could you describe the process in more detail?
Yes, with pleasure. Anyone willing to create a game can start with minting NFT, either a new one on EtherCards, or leverage the ones by recognized providers, e.g. Mintbase, Opensea or Nifty Gateways. Next, the creator simply has to set up the parameters of the game - either the number of tickets for sale, or the rarity of each single NFT within a collection, in case we talk about Blind Bags. The games that we offer so far are just the beginning; for the times ahead, we prepared more than half a dozen other creative entertainment that will revolutionize the creative gaming industry.
Can you explain the difference between the cards, and which one is best to obtain for long-term contributors, would you suggest?
The most fundamental difference between our EtherCards tokens is that they can give to the owner different sets of features that grant different priorities. For example, our Founder Card is extremely rare, but it doesn’t have any other special abilities but its rarity and intrinsic value. Another type, OG cards, comes second in the hierarchy of rarity, which means that it has 3X the chance of getting unique traits that can yield in considerably higher benefits for its possessors. Next one on the list, the Alpha card, stores a bit lower, 2X chance. As to the remaining Common card, it can provide absolutely any of the traits, however, with less likelihood than previous cards in the collection. I’d say, if you are planning to contribute on a long-term basis, the OG card will be a safe bet storing lots of advantages for its possessor. But there are only 90 of them!
How can anyone participate in the initial round of EtherCard token distribution? How long will this distribution last, and how many participants can benefit from it?
We start our distribution round from the 18th of March onwards, and it’s gonna be conducted on a first-come-first-serve basis. We created the following offer: Original Gangster, or OG cards, will be available in 90 pieces, then Alpha cards, with their 9000 pieces, and at the end the Common, also making 9000 pieces available. Some of the cards will offer discounts on services as well as perpetual fee-waiver. These offers will be made available until the end of March. The faster you sign up, the more cards you can get.