In the past year, NFTs have become extremely hot. In the first half of 2020, just $13.7 million of NFTs were sold, while well over $2.5 billion of NFTs have been sold so far this year. These statistics reflect a growing recognition that NFTs, which essentially allow users to own verifiably unique digital assets, are the future of ownership, digital art, and metaverse items.
Next Earth is one project riding this wave, and they just launched their NFT marketplace, where you can buy and sell “tiles” on a virtual replica of Earth, directly with other users.
What is an NFT?
An NFT is a unique digital asset that lives on a blockchain, such as Ethereum or Binance Smart Chain. Unlike traditional financial assets like stocks or bonds which require third parties to verify ownership through centralized exchanges or brokerages like NYSE or NASDAQ, each unique token represents ownership. The benefits of this include decreased risk for loss or theft since custody is decentralized and more secure, as well as increased ownership rights.
These are a particularly important concept in the metaverse, where users have to be sure that they’re truly in control of their virtual assets and identities.
How does it work?
On the blockchain, NFTs are represented by a cryptographic token, which is basically an identity code that lives on the blockchain. Each NFT has its own unique identifier, and anyone can verify its authenticity through its associated address.
This means that, for example, a piece of virtual real estate bought on Next Earth can one day be used in other blockchain-based metaverses, as the virtual real estate is fully decentralized, rather than being owned by Next Earth itself.
What’s Next Earth?
Next Earth is a decentralized project aiming to create an NFT-based recreation of Earth. It’s a “digital planet” where users can buy and sell unique digital assets—similar to buying and selling physical land.
What sets Next Earth apart is that they built their entire project on top of the blockchain, creating an entire metaverse with no middlemen. In essence, they created an NFT marketplace where virtual land ownership is in the hands of users, instead of belonging to Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform, since all assets are self-contained on the blockchain.
How do I buy land?
To buy land in Next Earth you’ll need BNB, the native token of the Binance Smart Chain. To purchase your first tile, you’ll simply want to sign up, browse the Mapbox-powered map interface, and find a plot of land that you’d like to buy.
This could be anything from a piece of the Amazon rainforest to a section of the Great Barrier Reef to a plot of your very own hometown. If that plot is already taken, you can see if it’s available for sale on the NFT marketplace. After all, you can’t expect a rare asset like the Statue of Liberty to be around forever.
Once you purchase a piece of land, it will be added to your wallet and become yours forever – until you’d like to resell it on the NFT marketplace. In the future, you’ll even be able to create pixel art on the tiles themselves.
Ultimately, the metaverse is gearing up to be a truly unique and interactive place where people can create, own, and trade virtual land, art, and experiences in a whole new way. While traditional NFT marketplaces like OpenSea are great places to discover new and unique NFTs, Next Earth aims to be the go-to marketplace for buying and selling virtual real estate.
While over $1.5 million of virtual real estate have been sold, one particularly interesting event was the purchase of the Arc de Triomphe for around $100, which was subsequently re-sold on the NFT marketplace for a whopping $3,400.
This will become particularly important as we spend more and more of our time online in the metaverse, and expect to have a place to call home, interact with friends, and build new connections while online. It’s a race to build the metaverse; companies like Next Earth are helping to bring this new digital world to life.