• Bitwise’s Matt Hougan said NFTs can expand beyond JPEGs of “digital rocks”. NFTs can revolutionize digital property rights
  • Ikigai’s Kling believes that NFTs are “highly unlikely to go away” and will be a “major part of everybody’s life”

Digital Asset Summit 2021, New York City — The non-fungible tokens (NFT) craze has taken the world by storm. In recent months, certain NFTs have sold for $69 million, along with their marketplaces such as OpenSea reporting monthly trading volumes of over $3 billion.

Skeptics question why someone would pay a large sum of money for what appears to be a digitized image, but Ikigai Asset Management Founder Travis Kling described holding the asset similar to “owning a layer of innovation” during a panel at the Digital Asset Summit Tuesday. 

“If you’re heading in that direction, where people are spending more and more time in the digital world, then you’re going to start somewhere [and that’s with NFTs],” Kling said.

Panel at Digital Asset Summit 2021
From left: Travis Kling, Ikigai; David Grider, Grayscale; Matt Hougan, Bitwise; Blockworks Digital Asset Summit 2021: Source: Photo by Mike Lawrence

In the session, featuring Horizon Kinetics’ Peter Doyle and Grayscale’s David Grider, panelists touched on the future of the asset class as well, discussing its potential capabilities. 

Matt Hougan, Chief Investment Officer of Bitwise Asset Management, said NFTs are far more than just “digital rocks”. They can revolutionize digital property rights. “As goofy as [paying] $3 million for a digital rock may seem, these are just the first instantiation of digital property rights,” he said. 

Although NFT use cases are most commonly associated with the arts and entertainment industries, the same framework can transfer to healthcare as well. Using NFTs via a decentralized ledger and blockchain networks, holders can track health data like pharmaceutical drugs and blood donations, making tracking medical records potentially faster and more efficient. 

“[NFTs] are the beginning of something that I think is highly unlikely to go away. In the future, I believe it’s going to be a major part of everybody’s life,” Kling said.


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  • Morgan Chittum is a New York-based reporter covering markets, NFTs, the metaverse and digital assets. Before Blockworks she was a street reporter at New York Daily News, where she wrote about homicide, extremist groups, state politics and other critical topics in New York. She was a Media and Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute, where she dabbled in data and investigative journalism. She is published in American Banker, Yahoo News, Chicago Tribune and more.