“I was reading an article about how [blockchain game] Etheremon was integrating with Decentraland when I had the idea for NIFTY,” explains Jehan Chu of the spark behind the conference and hackathon that’s promoting the importance of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
Starting out as a frontend developer, via a detour through the world of contemporary art, Chu has been a blockchain enthusiastic since 2013, more recently stamping his mark on the sector as a co-founder and managing partner of Kenetic Capital.
NFTs provide an exponential evolution of tokenization
And, as it happens, Kenetic was an early investor into Decentraland.
“I pinged Ari [Meilich, Decentraland co-founder], and said ‘We should do a conference’. We spoke for half an hour and that’s how NIFTY came about,” Chu ends.
Co-hosted by Decentraland and Kenetic with support from CryptoKitties dev Dapper Labs, the event, which runs from 24-26 July in Hong Kong, mixes a two day hackathon with a traditional conference track and topic-specific workshops.
Even before the event starts, Chu says, “It’s already exceeded my wildest expectations”, although he points out it quickly became clear NIFTY wasn’t going to be an industry trade show such as Consensus, as he’d initially thought.
“It’s too early for that,” he explains.
“When it comes to NFTs, people want to learn. The point of the conference is to encourage developers and help build a community.”
NFTs lead the way
More generally, Chu is highly enthused about the potential of NFTs – blockchain-based ERC721 collectible items such as CryptoKitties – to broaden the appeal of the industry beyond the now stereotypical crypto hodlers.
“I firmly believe NFTs provide an exponential evolution of tokenization,” he says.
“They’re a new asset class and one that much better maps the real-world because they’re not just about financial value but intrinsic value.”
In that context, Chu reckons game projects such as Decentraland, Etheremon and CryptoKitties are in the vanguard of the NFT revolution.
“Game are critical and gamers have the most natural affinity because they’re used to digital assets,” he says.
Game companies are well represented at NIFTY with the likes of Animoca Brands, Blockade Games and Horizon Games rubbing shoulders with Coinbase, the Ethereum Foundation and HTC.
That’s not to say there isn’t resistance within the wider games market, though.
“I think CryptoKitties opened the door and showed what was possible and that it was a wake-up call for games companies,” Chu says.
“Games will be the first frontier for mainstream use of cryptocurrencies.”
You can follow what happens at NIFTY via its website.
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