What are Digital Assets?
In traditional finance, assets are anything that can be owned outright and have economic value. Some examples include stocks, land, oil, equipment, buildings, etc.
Digital assets exist in digitized formats like eBooks, music, videos, documents, event tickets, memberships, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs.
For clarity, mentions of digital assets refer to cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
For some investors, actual assets must be income-producing. An example of this is a house that is being rented out. The place that you live in would not be considered an asset. Using this train of thought, income-producing assets are seen as the holy grail of wealth building. Interestingly, cryptocurrencies and NFTs unlock the possibility of generating a passive income through programmable monetary policies.
- Cryptocurrency – any digital or virtual form of currency using cryptography to secure transactions
- NFTs (non-fungible tokens) – uniquely identifiable, cryptographically secured assets on a blockchain
The World Wide Web, Cryptocurrencies, and NFTs
To better understand where cryptocurrencies and NFTs fit in the pool of digital assets, it is essential to look at the web and its evolution.
Web1 refers to the first iteration of the World Wide Web (www.). At that time, there was not much content available online.
Websites featured mainly static pages that were created by businesses using HTML. Users were generally passive consumers of content on these early websites. Advertisements were also banned while browsing.
Web2 is the version of the web that we are familiar with today. This iteration had a focus on the experience of the end-user.
This was also the beginning of massive social networks. Unfortunately, using some platforms often requires surrendering rights to your data. As the mantra goes, “if something is free, you are the product.”
Web3 is the next evolution of the World Wide Web that is currently being rolled out. It is characterized by a focus on the backend of the web that includes 3d graphics, web availability across all devices, artificial intelligence, distributed blockchain networks, and more.
In the context of the greater web, public blockchains allow for decentralized ownership of goods and services, trustlessness in transactions, permissionless access to applications, pseudonymity, and a myriad of other benefits.
As a web3 project investor, you will be focusing on public blockchain networks and their ecosystems. To own a stake of/or participate in these networks, you must have exposure to a cryptocurrency or NFT native to the specific blockchain.
Why Are Cryptocurrencies and NFTS Good Investment Opportunities?
In the modern world, more and more of our time is spent in digital reality. Examples include creating video content, blogging, participating on social media, ordering food, trading on marketplaces, voice calls, ride-sharing, dating, gaming, training, watching shows, banking…you get the idea.
It is estimated that over half of the world’s population has access to the internet today, and that number is growing. As more people turn their attention to the web, more value will accrue in the digital realm.
With that in mind, if it still makes sense to own companies that built the “real world,” it probably makes sense to own the web we’re all building together. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs enable this idea of digital ownership and much more.
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs make trading ownership of digital goods and services more efficient.
A great example is holding a proof-of-stake cryptocurrency (like Cardano’s ADA). Holding and staking the currency allows you to vote for protocol upgrades and, ultimately, the future direction of the ecosystem. It also allows you to earn a passive income while securing the network. These privileges can be traded to anyone in the world, without a central mediator, 24/7.
Other examples include owning and trading intellectual property rights, deeds, and stock derivatives on a peer-to-peer basis. Going further with this idea of ownership, let’s look at the incentives for companies selling cryptocurrencies and NFTs to raise funds.
Fundraising and Programmable Incentives
Traditionally, companies could only raise capital through private investors or by taking the company public (which is a significant regulatory undertaking). Both of these methods require that the owners of a company give up some degree of control through the sale of stock shares.
Conversely, crowdfunding allows the general public to fund early-stage companies. In return, the company may offer some rewards to its funders that do not include giving up stock. Crowdfunding has become a popular means of raising pools of capital for business development.
By allowing anyone around the globe to participate in funding a project idea, digital assets take this idea of crowdfunding to the next level. The programmable nature of cryptocurrencies and NFTs also create varying ownership privileges and incentives for holders.
Within decentralized applications, called dApps, cryptocurrencies and NFTs give a more efficient and immersive way to interact with web-native products and services. For example, NFTs allow for exclusive membership access to ecosystems and the benefits those ecosystems generate.
Many cryptocurrencies are also used as a censorship-resistant, immutable means of transacting value.
Web3 Project Risk
There is risk involved with any investment. For example, you are a poor traveler who stumbled upon a lemon grove. When life gives you lemons, you invest your last dime into building the first lemonade stand the world has ever seen.
The paint dries, the last nail goes into the teak board, and suddenly a disease wipes out all the trees in your area. The venture is dead in the water. Remember, the most well-intentioned, well-positioned investments still fail. Web3 project investing is no different.
With an industry that embraces privacy and censorship resistance, scams have been able to flourish and become more elaborate over time.
The space boils down to computer code that can be written and deployed by anyone in a trustless manner. Founders randomly leave projects, malicious code can steal funds, price manipulation creates money printers for the few, etc. While it seems as though making money in web3 is easy, thorough due diligence and money management skills are paramount when it comes to minimizing losses.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Internet. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/technology/Internet
- What is web3 and why is it important? ethereum.org. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://ethereum.org/en/web3/
- Web 1.0, web 2.0 and web 3.0 with their difference. GeeksforGeeks. (2022, January 27). Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://www.geeksforgeeks.org/web-1-0-web-2-0-and-web-3-0-with-their-difference/