After a banner year of 2021 for single item sales via non-fungible tokens (NFTs), 2022 is set to be the year of MetaFi. A summary of Beeple, Christie’s, Visa (NYSE:) and endless celeb aping seems hardly necessary, except to point out that we seem to be standing on (or perhaps have already crossed) a fundamental precipice. While the skyrocketing NFT prices won’t continue forever, many voices have been raised predicted that a mature technology stack for discovering, verifying, evaluating, exchanging and protecting collections of digital assets will soon emerge, crash-free.
But these optimistic holds may even sell the region short. Namely, the premise of the “NFT-Fi” industry is to create value through liquidity, but it has remained an unstated assumption that this liquidity would be fundamentally confined to the crypto world itself. Although it is still early days, these boundaries may be eroding and we may all need to open our meta openings even wider. In this respect, Switzerland stands out among many countries that have only begun to pilot experiments with central bank-backed digital currencies (CBDC). The confederation of cantons, home to both Davos and Art Basel, is known for its rich history of innovation in creative and financial assets, and its movements are worth watching closely.
Michel Maizels, an art historian by training, is a technology researcher at Pilot44, a boutique innovation consultancy in San Francisco, and is also affiliated with metaLAB, a think tank and creative design studio at Harvard University. . His new book on financial innovation in modern art history will be released from the University of Michigan in September.
Adam Au is a lawyer and international data privacy expert based in Hong Kong. He is currently General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of a public health corporation and a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post on topics at the intersection of technology and international law. He holds an economics degree from Brown, a law degree from Oxford, and an MBA from MIT Sloan.
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