The explosive growth of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which took off this year in large part because of the growing popularity of Ethereum blockchain technology, is something that surprised the digital coin’s (ETH-USD) ex-core developer.
An NFT is a certificate of authenticity that shows proof of ownership for anything digital. The tokens are being assigned to one of a kind digital art and now music.
Aside from applications that are creating new revenue streams for the music, movie, sports, art and gaming industry, Lane Rettig sees the next installation of NFTs being more of a utility.
He cited an example where a theatergoer buys a Broadway ticket for $200, but pays Ticketmaster $45 for the ticket. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Rettig told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.
“I’m not saying Tickemaster adds no value, but there’s no way they add like 30%. The reason Tickemaster is able to get away with charging so much is they basically have a monopolistic relationship with the vendors or sports teams,” he argued.
The beauty of NFTs, which offer open protocols, is it opens up competition, Rettig explained. If tickets are built on a blockchain, competition is introduced because anyone can access the platform. Additionally, other people can build competing platforms and services and products.
Rettig argued that moving ticketing onto NFT platforms for concerts and sports events will make the market more liquid, allowing people to cut out fees and middlemen so patrons just have to pay the actual ticket price. Airline tickets could also move in this direction, he said.
Along the line of NFTs, smart contracts also offer efficiencies like receiving your salary by smart contract. Rather than getting a lump sum every two weeks, a smart contract system funds can be deposited every second, in a process called dripping.
“Rather than getting $1,000 a month you get like 25 cents deposited into your account every two minutes,” he said.
Why ETH is so popular
Etherium is now the second-largest cryptocurrency measured by market capitalization, outpacing Bitcoin’s performance this year.
It is now being used for the majority of projects, notably NFTs, built on the blockchain (a digital ledger of digital transactions). But why exactly is it being chosen over Bitcoin (BTC-USD) and others?
“If you talk to any professional software developer, they’ll tell you they don’t like working with it. It has warts all over it, but it’s taken over the world,” he added.
Similarly, he says Etherium isn’t amazing and has clunkiness to it, but it works well enough and it has a first mover advantage.
I think crypto speaks to an open permission-less community driven vision. I think we need to determine how to build an open metaverse. It should be a place to gather and engage in social entertainment.Lane Rettig
Rettig stumbled upon crypto by accident in late 2016, early 2017. After attending an Ethereum developer conference in Mexico, and meeting co-creator Vitalik Buterin and other Ether stakeholders, his interest was piqued. He then joined the Ethereum Foundation.
“I absolutely saw mass adoption when I learned of it,” he said. “The writing for me was on the wall.”
He’s since left Etherium to work on a new blockchain called Spacemesh, that’s building an alternative platform that still does a lot of the things Etherium does.
“It’s like a next generation Etherium,” Rettig said. “It does the things Etheriun does, but does them more efficiently and it’s more scalable.”
While Bitcoin and Etherium are now mined by professionals, using big expensive computers, needing lots of capital that need to solve complex math problems to guess the code called proof of work, Spacemesh is being designed to use hard drive space on an ordinary computer.
That also makes Spacemesh 99% more green than Bitcoin and Etherium because it only uses hard drive space and no electricity.
In order to mine BTC or ETH, you need to dedicate a scarce resource to the network, Rettig said, which is a huge drain on electricity and the environment. But in the case of Spacemesh, instead of expending electricity you’re allocating hard drive space for some period of time – the space refers to the hard drive space, Rettig explained.
“My vision for blockchain longer term is that these need to be things that anyone anywhere can operate without needing permission or a credit card to go to your bank or know your customer process. Maximum useability by home users,” he told Yahoo Finance.
No big fan of Facebook
The virtual reality called the metaverse has gotten a lot of attention lately after Facebook (FB) changed its name to Meta Platforms, and announced plans around it.
Yet Rettig isn’t jazzed about Facebook’s premise, telling Yahoo Finance he found it “highly disturbing,” he said. “I don’t dislike Mark Zuckerberg, I’m not anti-Facebook. But it was just so dystopian in so many ways it bothered me.”
He says the overall concept is still “fuzzy” to him right now. Whatever it turns out to be, Rettig hopes it’s not Facebook’s vision, which he speculates would be a closed, tightly controlled ecosystem much like Apple’s (AAPL).
“It’s the opposite of my vision for the future socially and technologically,” he said. “I think crypto speaks to an open permission-less community driven vision. I think we need to determine how to build an open metaverse. It should be a place to gather and engage in social entertainment.”
However, Rettig thinks the metaverse could cause crypto to explode further. Because it resides outside of existing social and political order, it can’t be denominated in any major currency. In theory, it would have to use something like Etherium, but won’t be limited to one cryptocurrency.
“It must be built using cryptocurrency and could not be built before cryptocurrency in the same way the Internet allowed an explosion of creativity and people to become their own bloggers along with building businesses, empires and brands in a global distributed fashion,” he said.