Dynamic NFTs

NFTs exist on a spectrum from speculation through art to utility.

In the NFT universe there’s an emerging conversation around Dynamic NFTs (dNFTs). Dynamic NFTs are NFTs that can have their metadata updated based on triggers to its smart contract.

Michael Robinson has a nice Twitter thread that explains dynamic NFTs and shares a couple of use cases.

Dynamic NFTs are interesting because they add the ability for developers to evolve their NFT products over time, get to know their customers better, and offer increased utility in ways that perhaps couldn’t be imagined when the NFT launched.

Real-world Examples

In the thread, Michael uses both car and home examples. How a dNFT representing the physical item can track important things about the item. There are as many examples as the mind can imagine.

Imagine health records that get updated. Or school transcripts. Or work histories.

I’ve always like the idea of NFT-based credentials of sorts. Over the course of my career I’ve worked on some interesting projects. In 1998 I worked on one that was trumped as one of the top-ten most strategic IT projects of the year: Nasdaq Taps TIBCO for Revamp of Messaging Infrastructure.

Do you trust me? What was my role? I was the lead architect. Still trust me? That’s a big claim.

If, however, my employee record at TIBCO were an NFT, the CRM could have updated my record and I could prove it to you. Sure… you could call TIBCO and maybe they’d still have a record that I worked there. But a record of every project? You could ask my boss but would he remember? Every project for everyone on his team over decades?

Instead, that NFT (perhaps shared on LinkedIn) is proof with provenance directly from my employer without any necessary thrashing to call and verify references.

And that leads us to the main objections, which by now you’d realize aren’t real objections.

Objections

It’s useful to think about the home or car examples to counter the objections in the thread. There were really two:

  1. What about a database?
  2. Doesn’t Carfax or Zillow already do this?

These really are the same question in some ways.

What about a database? Well, whose database? My medical records are stored at the doctor’s, but I go to a lot of doctors. If my project example above was in a TIBCO database, would they still have it? Who’d have access to that data? Not me, that’s for sure.

Have you ever bought a home? The bank asks for information they already have, and a lot of what happens is the buyer or seller runs around collecting information from different organizations’ databases! Information about title, liens, property boundaries, taxes… So I ask again, whose database?

It’s all in a database… but it really should be associated with the physical property, not the organizations that own or collect the information.

Middlemen have evolved like Carfax or Zillow. Do we trust them? Have you read their terms… how much of that trust puts the responsibility on them for mistakes, or is it buyer-beware? And, a middleman means overhead.

Further NFT Innovation

Dynamic NFTs are one piece of the puzzle when it comes to how NFTs will help us innovate for more privacy, more efficiency, and more trust.

Why you buy alcohol, you have to prove your age.

But you show your ID.

To a complete stranger.

Your ID contains:

  1. Your birthdate
  2. Your address
  3. You ID number
  4. And more…

The cashier only needs to know if you’re over a certain age… yet they get tons of information about you. Why do they need your date of birth? Your home address?

The information on your ID is needed to derive an answer, and today the human is the only way to trust that answer. If your ID were validated in a wallet, you could have a smart contract that gives just the answer you need, without exposing unnecessary information about your identity. This is what it means to have trust embedded in the network.

Which is why I like the response to “why not just carfax?” deep in the thread comments:

There’s nothing “wrong” with carfax. But this approach as the potential to remove layers of trust from the data and make the data more securely accessible in more contexts.

That’s what this is about.

It’s about trust built into the network and not about decentralized databases.

And, it’s about unlocking data kept by middleman to enable more innovations with data. If you’re curious about a specific example, read about how merchants can create their own cross-platform “verified purchase” owners to unlock the power of community rather than having their champions locked into retail silos like Amazon or Walmart.

Web3 and Enterprise Technology

IDC have published a brief back in May with some insights into the impact of Web3 on enterprise technology organizations. The report itself is a paid-product, though if your company has an IDC subscription I suspect it’s available: IDC TechBrief: Web3, Doc #US49035522.

The summary is great, as it has quite a few key points… one though, jumped out at me:

While NFTs gained publicity through the exorbitant prices they gained as digital art (i.e., “Bored Ape Yacht Club”), their effectiveness as secure, immutable, and non-fungible stores of information and value was unquestionably demonstrated.

I’m struggling with just this communications problem — the second I say “NFT” people think “the hype of digital art and collectibles” and not “the utility of NFTs, that may in-fact be free”.

Pete Huang at Coinbase describes NFTs in a way I absolutely love

NFTs are a common file format for culture

NFTs as Community Secret Handshakes

The thing that’s clear to me, and us here at BCware, is that NFTs represent something important. Let me try at least to articulate my chain of thought to help you see what I see, at least directionally. I am, surprisingly because in my personal life I’m very black-and-white, I am able to operate in an abstract environment. Specifically, if I have an abstract or not-so-clearly defined destination in mind, I am able to move things forward with confidence while the target gets more fully defined.

Think about “our data” and the (false) trope that “Facebook sells our data” and that the “user should own their own data”. (Judging Facebook’s business is outside the scope of this thought, please.)

One of the things about Web3 is that the user themself owns their data. This is done because it’s associated with their digital identity, represented (at least in part) by a wallet address.

A quick explanation… the identity of your users has evolved in three phases:

  1. Create an account, that account info is owned by the site owner
  2. Login with an existing identity (login with Apple, or Facebook, or Google), the account info is mediated by BigTech
  3. Login with wallet (or ENS), the account info is managed by the user

As phase 3 progresses, users’ wallets will contain “tokens” that represent relationships with the sites or companies with which they do business. Let me say this again. The company won’t only have a list of users, but the user will have a list of companies/brands (in their wallet).

The simplest “but why?” is it aligns to the trend of the user owning their own data.

But wait, there’s more.

One of the reasons I love how Pete explains NFTs is that it’s interoperable, which allows companies to know you better, and align to their community’s values.

Making the World Better

Let me give you an example that we used in a brainstorm the other day.

Companies often support charitable causes. However, other than in the most broad way, those causes are disconnected from their humans (the causes that their customers and employees care about).

That’s OK. It’s good to do good, right?

Yes, and it’s better to do more good. A more specific association between your human’s values and your corporate activities would bring you closer.

Imagine, without having to ask, do surveys, etc… imagine if I participated in a carbon offset DAO, and earned an NFT to represent my participation. That NFT is in my wallet. I login to my airline, they see I’m pro-planet, and they decide to allocate a share of their giving to offset the carbon footprint from my upcoming trip in alignment to my values.

This is clearly a “value to me” and I’m going to support this airline because we have shared values. This is what it means to build community, instead of transactional customers.

Back to IDC and the Enterprise

Enterprises need to prepare for Web3 according to IDC.

NFTs are more than hyped collectibles according to Coinbase.

IDC suggests that companies:

  1. Inventory your systems that might connect into or influence your Web3 activities
  2. Pay attention, the next 12-24 months are critical
  3. Lay a foundation

Wouldn’t you know it? BCware provides that foundation.

Here’s the key point I’d like you to understand, having read this far:

No matter how big you are, and how much influence you have over your customers, they’re going to show up with their own preferences for cryptocurrency, blockchain, and wallet.

And you’re going to have to support it.

We’re in a participatory economy, one that’s an extension of the trend from companies defining our technology choices, to consumers defining them.

If you’re an airline, a bank, a hotel, or an entertainment company you’re going to have to go find the your customers in the communities they’re already participating in. And you’re going to have to balance that with the innovation you can bring to bear on the value you’re trying to deliver.

By helping companies, and their developers, deploy on any blockchain (for example), BCware helps lay a foundation to experiment on whatever chain suits their immediate needs… but not be limited by that early choice as the market evolves.

The same goes for Web3 infrastructure. Want to start with NFTs? Use IPFS. But we all know that IPFS has some limitations. We can plug-in Arweave, Storj, and others so that as your use cases evolve, you aren’t limited by the technology decisions you’ve made early in the experimental phase of your projects.

It’s not only about making development simpler or reducing time to market anymore. It’s about reaching and connecting with your audience on whatever chain and wallet they’re already using AND as your use cases evolve being able to adapt to the technology that best meets new requirements.

By the way, this is the philosophy we’ve put into production with our NFT app for Shopify merchants. It’s how we support Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Flow on the first release (with Avalanche in beta). If you’d like to see the app, reach out and we’ll hop on a zoom and I’ll personally give you a demo and talk you through the architecture of how we accomplish this.

Tokengated Commerce and Crypto Wallets

Crypto wallets are the digital spaces that contain the different elements of a composable identity.

In plain English:

Your wallet might contain a variety of “things” that serve to identify who you are:

  • your Starbucks’ loyalty card,
  • a collectible you’re proud of,
  • an achievement you share, and
  • your work ID.

We’re going to compose the things in our Web3 wallets to reflect our personalities. And, brands that recognize this, will help their customers identify with them through innovative Web3 loyalty expressions that manifest in these wallets.

Many of the things in the list above can be stored in the wallets that exist today (like Apple Wallet).

But these wallets are “dumb” containers. They’re functional and not expressive.

What gets interesting about crypto wallets is two bits:

  1. What’s in Web3 wallets doesn’t need an intermediary to the technology that stores the “thing” you’re putting in the wallet. It’s not just about money, but if I complete a class on Swift UI Programming, and that course certificate is minted on-chain, my wallet can display it. What’s gained over an Apple Wallet like solution? Provenance. Proof that what’s in your wallet is yours. This may not matter for a collectible (one that you’re not trying to sell) but may matter for a credential.
  2. The other interesting thing is that Crypto Wallets are ‘smart-contract’ enabled, which is like having little apps in the wallet that enables capabilities on top of the composable item.

Connecting on-chain innovations to off-chain infrastructure

I’m going to share two articles on what’s driving the current interest in wallets, but before I do, I want you to consider one thing.

Let’s say Starbucks allows me to mint an NFT that represents my loyalty card, to store in a crypto wallet.

Do you think that even Starbucks will be able to tell customers what wallet and chain they need to download to access the NFT?

Or, will Starbucks need to find their community of users on the chains that these users have chosen for themselves with the wallets that their members are familiar with?

Do you think Starbucks wants to put every loyalty transaction on-chain, starting from scratch to build a new loyalty system based on a Web3 technology stack… or, do you think Starbucks will need to connect their existing loyalty Web2 systems into this new Web3 stack, to combine the best of on-chain and off-chain capabilities in order to deliver innovative solutions?

(Hint, it’s the second choice.)

Just to be clear, I’m using Starbucks as an example that we can all relate to, not because I have any inside information into what they’re doing. I only know that they’re exploring a “digital third place” based on public information they’ve shared.

Learn More

If you’re curious, and want to start from the User Experience to understand the benefits of Web3, Identity in Web3, and how wallets play a part, please read these two articles:

  1. Simon Taylor’s “Why is everyone doing a Web3 wallet?
  2. The Crypto Wallet, Unlocking Digital Identity

In last week’s Tokengated Commerce announcement, Shopify talked about C2C as an expansion of B2C. B2C is “business to consumer”, while C2C is “connect to consumer”.

The wallet is the container in which businesses will connect to their consumers, and that’s why, as Simon asks, “everyone is building a Web3 wallet”.

5 Things to Consider When Creating a Tokengated Commerce Strategy

There’s a ton of interesting experimentation going on in the tokengated commerce space. If you’re new to Web3, or skeptical of NFTs, it’s useful to consider Tokengated Commerce as simply an extension of e-commerce into Web3 technologies.

Even the language around this is developing. For the sake of this post, I’ll use NFT and token somewhat interchangeably.

What kinds of extensions?

Strategy extensions. Token (NFT) holders can be considered superfans, not just customers. If the token has utility, it encourages superfans to be participants in your community, rather than just buyers. This may change go-to-market strategies, product launches, and more.

Technology extensions. E-commerce sites will need to integrate with crypto wallets, blockchains, and have to deal with the complexities of gas fees and ESG.

Product extensions. Digital and physical products will need to be combined and brought to market in innovative ways, involving both new technologies and new community practices driven by new values. Agami is a great example.

Why?

On one hand I’d like to say, “it’s unclear why”… and yet, I don’t believe that. Though I do believe Tokengated Commerce has yet to have it’s “Uber moment” (I think of Uber as one of the first mobile-first apps — meaning apps that didn’t make sense on a fixed computer without geolocation information tied to an individual).

That said, there are a few trends that are important that make Tokengated Commerce important for retail to begin experimenting:

  1. Whatever happens with “the metaverse” is happening, and digital products (or digital-physical pairs) are part of any digital world that manifests.
  2. Company values are shifting from purely financial metric oriented to something else. Again we see this with Agami, but it’s more like a company can be successful “enough” financially AND have an impact beyond that success on their community and be considered very successful (or at least, I hope this is the trend).
  3. Community is becoming more important than customers. This is both a long term trend (my opinion) and the flip side of #2 above. An example is the shift from buying things to subscriptions. It’s easy to understand why companies shift from revenue per transaction to lifetime value of the customer when that happens. Companies are going to look more at the lifetime value of their NFT holders, and that’s not a technology shift but a cultural one.

5 Considerations for Creating Your Tokengated Commerce Strategy

1. Think multichain, not individual chain

This is a complicated topic, but not really. Take a note of many of the largest tokengated commerce launches and you’ll realize that almost all are caveated — announcing an NFT launch on a particular chain.

On Shopify, only BCware has launched on all supported Shopify chains (Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Flow). If you’re trying to reach your community, you need to reach them in the wallets, and with the tokens and technologies that they’re already using.

Also, in a rapidly evolving space like blockchain, sentiments shift quickly.

What if you built on Ethereum and gas prices spike making your solution unviable commercially?

What if you build your solution on a proof-of-work chain and ESG concerns put a hold on the project?

These are real concerns that can cause months of delays to projects that don’t have a multichain perspective from the start.

2. Consider NFT utility

Consider how to add NFT utility to community members. Community is such an important part of Tokengated Commerce that you must consider token utility right from the beginning of your experimentation even though token utility is more about your business process than the technology implementation.

Will you airdrop NFTs to existing customers?

Will you provide advanced releases to NFT holders? What about exclusive offerings?

How will digital-physical products get bundled and launched? What will they look like in your inventory system?

How will NFT minting get associated with the real-world product in your inventory, or shipping and logistics systems?

Making two parallel products and manually connecting them via a “spreadsheet” isn’t a viable solution.

These questions lead us to the following strategy point…

3. Take your business process out of your app

Developing all of this complex integration in your app simply isn’t something that should be done. It becomes difficult to manage and change over time (and by difficult we mean expensive and bad for your user experience).

For decades the team at BCware has been advising companies on how to best integrate the value-chain of systems that support an application, into individual customer experiences. While one-off integration, say for example, tying your app directly into Salesforce for customer information, or into Polygon for low-cost NFT minting, can be faster up-front, it makes your business process brittle and inflexible.

We’re working with one customer, and their initial launch is expected to work one way. However, they fully expect that as they expand their offering the underlying process will change. Whether it changes because of their target customer demands, or it changes because they learn something and evolve their process doesn’t matter. We all know things change, and the best way to adapt to change is to decouple the underlying process from the experience you’re delivering to your customers.

4. Create an abstraction layer between your developers and tokengated technology

Let’s say you write your NFT solution and connect to OpenSea. Then there’s a new NFT market integration required. What do you do? Write directly to the new marketplace APIs? And when there’s a third… do you rewrite the same functionality in your app a third time and connect to yet another marketplace?

It’s better to create an abstraction layer that lets your developers do something once, and allows you to plugin to any marketplace as the space evolves.

Same goes with blockchains. And custody services. And CRMs. And messaging platforms. (You probably get the point by now so I’ll stop.)

An abstraction layer also allows a central IT organization to manage what underlying capabilities get exposed to developers so that developers adhere to corporate standards (say around security or compliance). When developers code directly to external services APIs (or even internal ones, but the point is more obvious for external APIs), what the do is often “invisible” to IT teams responsible for protecting the organization and insuring that costs can be managed over time.

This isn’t a new idea, in my career this is exactly what large financial institutions did when they adopted to middleware. They created their own abstractions on top to help their developers do the best job possible, while protecting their orgs from vendor lock-in, technology obsolescence, while providing developer guardrails for compliance with organizational policies. It’s important to do this.

It also allows your developers to experiment and migrate experiments to real-world applications more seamlessly.

5. Remember that integration is what makes this real

Your Tokengated Commerce project is not an island. It’s part of your e-commerce strategy. This means that the integration you’ve done for your e-commerce platform is also going to be needed for Tokengated Commerce. You need to ask yourself:

How are you going to connect all these chains and web3 services to your existing infrastcture like your CRM or logistics systems?

How will you connect into your messaging infrastructure to allow your tokengated platform to leverage existing internal tools such as custom dashboards or logging systems?

Too many companies have had marketing-led Tokengated Commerce projects that can’t scale to the enterprise because they didn’t have an integration strategy built into their program. This is an easily avoidable trap with a technology like the BCware Platform.

About BCware

It should be obvious that the considerations above are among the critical capabilities that BCware are bringing to the Tokengated Commerce space.

As part of our NFT App partnership with Shopify we are working with companies with which this advice has been resonating. Analysts agree, and all-in, it’s a pretty exciting time.

Definitely reach out if you’re curious about how BCware can help accelerate your Tokengated Commerce project and future-proof your investments in early experiments.

To learn more:

Innovative NFT Use Cases: Legal

It’s interesting that considering the heavily restrictive bitlicense that NY State has in place or the ban on mining they’ve recently instituted that the NY Supreme Court is leading the way with an innovative NFT offering.

Though, I doubt this is the sort of NFT anyone wants to collect.

The short of it is that airdropping court documents to the thief’s digital wallet, even though the court doesn’t know the identity of the thief, satisfies the due process notice requirement.

Is this useful? It seems to be. Can this be done another way? I think the real answer to that is over my head, but consider that a wallet address is being treated differently than an email address. It’s obvious (to anyone who sends a newsletter at least) why an email address can’t be used in this way (hello spam folder). But it’s interesting that a wallet address is being treated differently.

My thoughts are going in many directions as I write this… the implications should CBDC’s take off and how courts could block addresses from participating in the monetary system.

But we’re here at BCware for one thing – the integration between Web2 and Web3 and enabling companies to solve innovative problems with Web3 while taking advantage of existing Web2 infrastructure.

My Jailhouse Experience

A while back, I worked with the Virginia Department of Corrections on a project. The process of moving inmates between jail and court came with a lot of paperwork. They’d literally put that paperwork in an envelope and pin or clip it to each inmate as they were moved around on their court dates.

Seems like a formula for a lot of mistakes, not to mention how demeaning it must have been for inmates. Regardless of how you feel about these inmates, demeaning them can’t be good for the safety of the corrections officers. But, social justice aside, it’s an inefficient system.

We were brought in to help with the business process automation and integration to ensure that inmates flowed smoothly, courts ran efficiently, and costly errors were minimized.

Modern Day Due Process

Back to the present. There’s a big gap between a court that can serve a wallet with notice, and inmates who literally have packets of information clipped to them as they move around a courthouse.

In both cases, there are a lot of back-end systems that contain information useful to these activities. And, while what the NY Supreme Court has done is truly ground-breaking, if it’s done in isolation without integration to all the back end systems on which modern legal activity is built, it really is only a proof-of-concept for what the future of enforcement in the metaverse might be.

Not to mention the other obvious thing… one can airdrop to a wallet address only if the chain is supported for minting the NFT. We’ve shown how multichain NFT support can be simply built right into any application as we’ve done with our BCware NFT app for Shopify. It’s important that this sort of thing is done transparently to the application, for a variety of reasons including lower cost of ownership, reduced impact of change, timeliness of support for a particular chain when notice needs to be served, and so on.

Read more about this innovative NFT use case on twitter.

Want to move past a proof-of-concept and deploy meaningful innovation on Web3? Drop us a note and let’s chat about your project.

Instagram, NFTs, and BCware’s Multichain

CoinDesk is reporting that Instagram is piloting NFT integration for users to showcase their NFT art.

I don’t find NFTs as art interesting. And that’s not to say anything negative. It’s simply my personal interest. I’ve always been interested in integration and the business application of technology. I’m an observer and a storyteller.

With that in mind, notice the one key point that CoinDesk felt was most important to mention about this scoop (as of the time of this post, Instagram hasn’t yet made an official announcement):

Meta’s Instagram to Support NFTs From Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, Flow

They’re highlighting the fact that Instagram’s NFT pilot will be multichain.

Community is Key

Why might this be the key point?

Web3 is about community. Notice how the language around Web3 is emerging. DOAs are governed communities. Discord communities spring up around new projects. Community. Community. Community.

It’s not about bringing people to your platform; it’s about taking your platform to your community participating natively.

This is a smart move by Instagram. They know it’s not about bringing NFTs to Instagram, but bringing Instagram to NFT communities.

And those communities exist on a variety of chains.

You know who else is making smart moves in this space?

Shopify

BCware NFT App for Shopify

We’ve been working with Shopify to launch the BCware NFT App, a multichain app to enable merchants to meet their communities in their native environments.

Our app enables e-commerce innovation around NFT sales and bundling with physical products. This is a starting point for merchants to explore NFT Gated Commerce.

You know what else is nice to see?

Instagram has chosen the same chains that we chose for our Shopify App: Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Flow.

In our app merchants can list an NFT independent of chain. The NFT is minted after purchase, and at that point in time the buyer can choose the chain they prefer.

This is just a demonstration of the importance of multichain using NFT commerce to make the point. Many different business cases need the flexility to abstract away blockchain complexity from solution development.

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