Twitter is adorned with cartoon apes and penguins — non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that have risen to the surface of cryptocurrency.
For some, they have stirred curiosity. For some, confusion. For others, they have been a source of profit. Now, some UNC students are cashing in on the deal as NFTs grow in popularity.
NFTs are units of value stored on a blockchain, a digital database, that serve as unique and uncopyable files. They're designed to increase the value of digital files by making them scarce.
Nick Gargano, a sophomore pre-business major, said he has not personally been involved with creating them but has experience buying and selling NFTs.
"It's kind of like an online collectible," he said. "It's like assigning a signature to a digital item like a photo or really anything. It could just be attached to anything and make it more unique."
NFTs are operated as cryptocurrency and people need a digital wallet, compared to a folder, to store items. NFTs drop similarly to physical marketplace debuts — customers must be on the trading platform when an NFT debuts to obtain one before supply runs out.
This is called minting, which creates the NFT and files it into wallets, allowing people to hold on to it or sell it at other marketplaces, Gargano said.
Gargano said certain NFT collections have benefits and online perks, specifically Bored Ape Yacht Club, where many celebrities purchase Twitter profile pictures.
"A lot of those are very hype-driven, especially being limited," he said. "That's also kind of a con of them. You can build hype around it and then once it dies, they can become worthless."