So You Know What NFTs Are, but How About xNFTs?

The ‘x’ stands for “executable,” meaning that an xNFT is not only a digital asset, but that it can also run built-in code


ilikeyellow/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


‘NFT.’ It was named the Collins Dictionary ‘word of the year’ in 2021.

Many a watercooler conversation at the time centered on attempts to simplify the meaning of the new word in explain-like-I’m-five terms. Few succeeded. 

And now, it gets a little more complicated with the recent introduction of the xNFT. It probably won’t be word of the year for 2023, but it could lead to some pretty interesting innovations in non-fungible tokens.

The ‘x’ stands for “executable,” meaning that an xNFT is not only a digital asset, but that it can also run built-in code. The xNFT, itself, is an app that can be distributed on a decentralized marketplace.

On a recent 0xResearch podcast, the co-founder of Frictionless Capital, Logan Jastremski, spoke about the advantages of xNFTs in the Solana ecosystem.

“xNFTs are a very interesting idea,” Jastremski says, pointing to the recent successful launch of Solana MadLads as an early example.

A wallet that’s an OS

The tech is made possible with Solana’s Backpack wallet, which allows for xNFTs to operate in a fully-integrated environment, functioning like an operating system for on-chain apps.

Backpack creator, Armani Ferrante, tweeted about the potential utility of the wallet: “It’s an open, programmable system built for Web3. And like any other application operating system, has a set of developer frameworks and APIs associated with it, allowing anyone to build their own xNFT apps for any protocol on any blockchain — without permission.”

“It’s kind of a relatively simple idea” — perhaps not for those in the ELI5 watercooler crowd — “but I think all good ideas in hindsight seem a little bit obvious,” Jastremski says. 

“And then you always ask, why hasn’t someone done this earlier?”

A seamless experience

An executable NFT, Jastremski says, is made possible with innovations in wallet technology, progressing from apps like MetaMask to Phantom, which “gave a much cleaner user experience” and allowed users to directly view NFTs within the app. 

With Backpack, users can interact with applications natively, never needing to leave the wallet environment to enjoy the full utility of the tokens, according to Jastremski.

He explains that xNFTs not only allow developers to remove barriers by distributing their wares directly within the wallet, but also, importantly, that they allow for a more seamless experience. Users don’t need to hop on to another platform to use the tokenized apps, avoiding an “orthogonal experience where you’re going from one to another.”

xNFTs, he says, are a “Trojan horse” for Solana, with MadLads being the first product of its kind to infiltrate the NFT marketplace. Details of the functionality of MadLads xNFTs have not yet been revealed, although Ferrante suggests a few possibilities such as DeFi account management, staking and natively viewing exchange listings in a single interface.

Read more: The Top 8 NFT Marketplaces — Where To Buy NFTs

“The Backpack team and what they’re building in the broader ecosystem there, I think, is the truly exciting stuff. So we’re definitely excited to be working with them.”

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