NFTs are a serious topic of conversation right now. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that they’ve come to dominate the world of tech and the internet recently. It’s no surprise, either; they hit that perfect sweet spot whereby it’s easy to understand exactly what they are and what they do, but difficult enough that those who aren’t in the know feel put off by them. To put it simply, if you’re invested in the tech space right now, you need to know about NFTs.
It seems that the UK government agrees, because Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak recently revealed plans for the government to mint and sell its very own NFT. This, Sunak says, will demonstrate the government’s faith in the burgeoning world of cryptocurrency and the potential it represents for the financial sector. So, what do we know about the UK government’s NFT? What will it look like and how much will it cost? Let’s take a look at Sunak’s decision to mint an NFT and what it could mean.
What does the UK want to mint as an NFT?
Right now, we don’t actually know what form the UK government’s NFT will take. All we know is that it will be an official government NFT and that it will, in Sunak and the government’s mind, cement their push to be “world leader[s]” in the cryptocurrency world. Sunak hasn’t actually specified what the NFT will look like, but that’s not uncommon; it’s not due to be minted just yet anyway.
Most NFTs are visual assets, taking the form of unique pieces of artwork. It’s easiest to mint these types of NFTs, because they can easily be delivered as individual, identifiable assets. Some NFTs also take the form of social media posts or other iconic moments in history, but they’re usually rendered in visual form. With this in mind, we can assume that the UK government NFT will likely be visual. Perhaps some unique rendering of the Union Jack?
When are we expecting the UK government NFT to launch?
According to Rishi Sunak, he’s asked the UK’s Royal Mint, which is the body that mints coins and looks after the technical side of finance in the UK, to create a new NFT that will be issued “by the summer”. Naturally, we don’t yet know if this means it’ll arrive before the summer, or whether it’ll arrive during the summer. We don’t have enough info to go on here, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
In fact, the image accompanying the official HM Treasury tweet could give us a hint as to what Sunak’s NFT could look like. It shows a bright blue Royal Mint logo surrounded by concentric circles. Could that be the image that will be sold off as an NFT? It’s likely that the government’s efforts in this area will be fairly tasteful and not too tacky, so this would make a good option with those parameters in mind.
What else has the UK government said about NFTs and crypto?
As well as this announcement, the UK government also revealed more about its approach towards other aspects of the world of cryptocurrency. Over on the official UK government website, the Conservatives set out their intention to look into the area of stablecoins, which are cryptocurrency assets tied to real-world currencies to make them more stable. Given how volatile crypto can be, this decision makes sense.
The UK government also reaffirmed its commitment to “distributed ledger technology”. If you’re unfamiliar with crypto, then you might not realise you’ve probably heard this term before, albeit in a different form; distributed ledger technology is what powers the blockchain. It’s a vast network of integrated ledgers that doesn’t have a central authority, so it’s basically the engine that powers crypto.
Is the UK NFT coming at a good time?
It’s difficult to definitively state whether the UK NFT is coming at a good time or not. On the one hand, crypto and NFTs are thriving, with huge sales of massive amounts going through on NFTs even as recently as a few weeks ago. The NFT marketplace is still nascent technology, so there’s still room for mass adoption, even if the tech space is growing a little more wary.
However, it’s definitely undeniable that NFTs have their problems, and that in recent weeks, some have been saying that the technology could finally be running out of gas (no pun intended). The sheer amounts for which NFTs often sell can be off-putting, and there are various other problems with the concept of NFTs that people are possibly beginning to get wise to as well.
What are NFTs, and why are there problems around them?
In short, NFTs are “non-fungible tokens”. They are basically proofs of ownership that are entered onto the blockchain, proving that you own a specific artwork. However, they don’t grant you access to the copyright for that artwork (they can, but they often don’t). Instead, they just prove that you own the original version of that work, and nothing more.
As you can imagine, this has led many people to pour scorn on NFTs, claiming that they’re a flash in the pan, an economic bubble, and a waste of money. However, others have claimed that they have great implications for artists making money from their work. One thing’s for sure: we can’t see the NFT debate slowing down any time soon, even if the UK government decides to stick its oar in.