Examples and use cases

NFT Utility: The Real-world Benefits of NFTs

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October 25, 2022

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The five big ways NFTs can provide users with utility: gated access, merch and community projects, loyalty programs, reward tokens and ticketing.

NFTs, also known as non-fungible tokens, are digital assets based on blockchain technology. The first NFT created was made by Kevin McCoy in May 2014. It was named “Quantum” and recently sold for $1.4 million in 2021 at a Sotheby auction.

Initially the idea behind McCoy’s art was to “to use blockchain technology to create indelible provenance and ownership of digital images of this kind.” Little did McCoy know that his foray into digital art would start one of the biggest movements in the crypto space: NFTs.

Over the last eight years, NFTs have slowly gained recognition. Today they’re close to becoming a household name, with NFT marketplaces accounting for around $25 billion in sales in 2021.     

When an NFT has application beyond being just a unique digital asset it’s often defined as “NFT utility”. In this case, the digital asset, or piece of art, can now provide you with more tangible benefits like, gated access, merch, and in-game rewards. In Web3 the potential for rewards and utility are endless.

These NFT utilities and rewards can be either on-chain or off-chain. On-chain simply refers to happening on the blockchain. Whereas off-chain refers to it being processed off the blockchain. 

In this blog post we will go through five ways NFTs can provide users with utility:

  1. Gated access
  2. Merch and community projects
  3. Customer loyalty programs
  4. In-game reward tokens
  5. Ticketing

1. Gated Access

image of a sign saying that only stage crew and band allowed access

In 2021, Oracle Red Bull Racing announced a partnership with the energy efficient blockchain Tezos. One aim of this partnership was to provide immersive and new experiences that would expand their current fan engagement platform. Oracle Red Bull Racing is selling a one-of-a-kind “Factory Pass NFT” through an auction minted on the Tezos blockchain. Only with this NFT will you be able to get:

  • Exclusive access to visit Oracle Red Bull Racing’s UK HQ during a F1 practice session.
  • One hour with the Red Bull Esports team.
  • A full factory tour with up to five friends.

Interestingly, if this NFT is sold on a secondary market, the utility will not transfer. Which means the only people bidding will be people genuinely interested in the experience offered. NFTs are unique in that they can also be non-transferable, which protects users from scalping and bidding wars.  

2. Merch & Community Projects

OnChainMonkey (OCM) is a community of blockchain creators, founders of cryptocurrency exchanges, creators of metaverses, founders of block explorers and many more. OCM offers unique utility to holders and their community. Currently they have an off-chain solution for their NFT holders to earn digital bananas. These bananas can be used in their merch store to buy caps, socks, t-shirts, etc.

Holders of the NFTs are also provided with memberships into a monkeyverse – a metaverse where crypto veterans are building a better future with Web3 and are given votes to use in the OnChainMonkey DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). This DAO has real-world benefits through partnerships with companies such as Ledger Nano, contests, charitable donations and much more.

3. Customer Loyalty Programs

Starbucks are anticipating releasing a Web3 loyalty program, with branded digital collectibles and one-of-a-kind rewards. 

“The ‘new Web 3 enabled initiative’ will give Starbucks new ways to engage with customers and expand the 'digital third place community
Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks 

Imagine having an NFT cup that gives you discounted coffees, or a reward token which you can redeem for anything you want at Starbucks. A Web3 loyalty program will allow for Starbucks customers to gain access to these range of rewards which are personalized and unique to them. These NFTs will also open up the door for the Starbucks loyalty program to have a sense of community. As NFT holders will be able to compare rewards, rarity of their NFTs and much more.

4. In-game Reward Tokens

NFT utility is not only limited to physical rewards and benefits, they can also be used in games. Crabada is a popular play-to-earn game built on the Avalanche network.

Players can earn $TUS (Treasure Under Sea tokens), their native in-game currency, exclusively by playing games. Players can also earn $CRA, the governance token for Crabada, during specified periods of time. Both tokens are available and openly tradable on multiple exchanges. Essentially meaning you can make money off playing a game by using an NFT.

There are endless combinations of crab NFTs, each attributed with their own unique abilities and strengths. As Crabada is a game deployed on a blockchain, every player has full control of their assets and every gameplay interaction is processed on-chain with full transparency.

5. Ticketing

Using NFTs as tickets brings unique benefits to ticket buyers.

The GET protocol, through the use of smart contracts and blockchain technology, allows NFT tickets to have a life cycle pre, during and post event. For example, during the pre-event, event organizers and artists can raise funds for events through Decentralized Finance (DeFi). This allows the ticket NFTs to provide unique utility as they can be grouped and analyzed by liquidity providers for a loan. Event goers and event planners are then able to collaborate and make something special. 

Facilitating hundred of events per month, while supporting over 423 artists and organizers with buyers from 121 countries. The GET protocol is bringing real-world benefits to thousands of event goers.

Not only can NFT tickets extend ticket lifecycles, they also prevent fake tickets and scams which are rampant in the industry. According to Action Fraud, “ticket fraudsters duped victims out of almost £4 million” in 2021, in the UK alone.

Due to the blockchains immutable characteristics, all parties can be confident knowing they can authenticate tickets themselves. Organizers can get a better hold on reselling and scalping by making NFTs non-transferable. Finally by having ticket NFTs it allows for endless revenue opportunities, which can then be passed down to users as rewards, deals and more.

What Does the Future of NFT Utility Look Like? 

In the future we can expect to see NFTs showing up more in our day-to-day lives. Slowly but surely NFTs are becoming more than a digital collectible. As creative utilities, and rewards continue to develop and grow, so too will the demand for NFTs. Brands and creators are always looking for new ways to increase customer loyalty and engagement.

Subscription-based NFTs continue to grow in popularity due to the control they bring to end users. Everyone knows the hassle of trying to cancel subscriptions, changing subscriptions and forgetting about them. NFTs can give utility to subscriptions, as users can decide to sell the on the secondary market or swap for a different subscription. Revuto, a Web3 startup, offers lifetime Netflix and Spotify memberships via NFTs. With Revuto not only can users save money but they can also gain full control over their subscriptions.

Loyalty-based NFTs offer a unique way for customers to gain extra benefits. These NFTs allow customers to earn rewards based on holding their NFTs for a set period of time. The rewards can be anything, from physical merch or items, reward tokens, or NFTs. For businesses looking to lure new customers or retain existing ones, loyalty-based NFTs are a creative and forward-thinking way to go.

The technology of blockchain ledgers makes a case for NFTs to be used for credentials. This is because of its trustless nature, which allows anyone to quickly verify, audit and trace any credentials stored on there. Currently, issuers of credentials have to worry about numerous issues, such as secure storage and verification by third parties. For businesses and individuals this can be time consuming and expensive. This is where the blockchain can come in – reducing costs and speeding up processes.

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Stay up-to-date on Web3

Get the latest tips, ideas and case studies from the best of Web3.

Talk to an expert

Book a 20-minute call with our team to learn how we can help you plan and execute a winning Web3 strategy.

Book an intro call

Ready to create engaging Web3 rewards?
Try the PolyientX platform and start building an engaging Web3 reward program.
Try the PolyientX platform
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