NFTs (or Non-fungible Token) have become quite the popular discussion surrounding crypto currency communities and investing enthusiasts alike. Many have done the research to figure out what they even are, but what I will investigate in this opinion piece is its intended purpose. Or rather, what problem do NFTs solve?
First, I will outline what I believe to be “useful.” A knife is a particular tool within the kitchen and serves one purpose: to cut. But, some knives are designed to cut something specific, so saying a butter knife is a bad knife because it can't cut a steak would be unfair. But, a steak knife that is bad at cutting a steak is a fair judgment. The reason I outline this is twofold: to find what purpose(s) NFTs serve and if they serve any and all ends better than alternative methods.
Let us evaluate the most commonly held opinion as to NFTs intended use—that it helps artists. Forbes perfectly summarizes this belief with, “Blockchain technology and NFTs afford artists and content creators a unique opportunity to monetize their wares” (Forbes, What is an NFT?) Many people treat NFTs like is just like selling any digital media online, the only issue is that you're not really buying the art. What a person is purchasing is the blockchain, which is basically a link that can take you to the digital media. You own the link to the art, not the art (How-To-Geek, When You Buy NFT Art.) So, if the page that the art is on is deleted, you're left with a broken link and a sunk “investment.” Which leads into the next point, investments.
Some do not really care about the artistic aesthetic of the pieces, but rather, its monetary value. They buy and sell just like a business investment in company stock. However, investments means you are investing into the business so that it may produce something of worth to society. But, given that NFTs blockchain does not produce any goods or services (and we've clarified that you are buying the blockchain and not the art), one can only guess where its worth comes from. Why is one NFT more valuable than another? So, then, none of these are applicable uses for an NFT. Then, what is a truly relevant and appropriate reason someone would buy and sell an NFT? Besides the speculation of money laundering and get rich quick schemes, I can't see much of a sensible legal reason someone would invest in such works (CNBC, NFT Based Money Laundering).