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.
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 tangible benefits like gated access, merch, and in-game rewards.
In this blog post, we'll explore five ways NFTs can provide users with utility.
1. Gated 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 an 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. This 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 its 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 launched its NFT-based loyalty program, Starbucks Odyssey, in December 2022. The NFTs were priced at $100 and quickly sold out.
“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
Starbucks Odyssey gives its customers access to various rewards which are personalized and unique to them. These NFTs also open the door for the Starbucks loyalty program to have a sense of community as NFT holders will be able to compare rewards, the 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 to 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.
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. Eventgoers and event planners are then able to collaborate and make something special.
Facilitating hundreds 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 eventgoers.
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 blockchain's 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, having ticket NFTs allows for endless revenue opportunities, which can then be passed down to users as rewards, deals, and more.
What is the future of utility NFTs?
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 by letting users sell them on the secondary market or swap them 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, to 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 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.