A sceptic’s guide to crypto: NFT mania

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This is an audio transcript of the Tech Tonic podcast episode: A sceptic’s guide to crypto — NFT Mania

Miguel Mora
Well, I started really recording music seriously years ago but had taken a long hiatus. I’ve had not written a song. I got a day job, got good at my day job, figured out what it felt like to pay bills on time and thought music was behind me.

Jemima Kelly
Miguel Mora used to be a rapper. He was part of a group that had some success only for big names like Talib Kweli, Nas and Snoop Dogg. But then the music dried up. So Miguel decided to have a change of careers.

Miguel Mora
So I went to law school. I was not a great law student. Practised law for, like, a year, hated it. And then got lucky and got a job at a digital media agency.

Jemima Kelly
And for a while he had a regular job.

Miguel Mora
Then lost my job due to Covid.

Jemima Kelly
Sitting at home in Florida with little to do, he discovered CryptoPunks — basically an online collection of 10,000 pixelated digital images depicting the heads of various characters. They’re regarded as one of the first collections of non-fungible tokens or NFTs. And in crypto land that makes them valuable. Kind of like rare and significant works of art, kind of. And one of the pixelated heads, Miguel thought, looked like him.

Miguel Mora
So he has medium skin tone. He wears a baseball cap, and he’s male. So it’s like, OK, that could be me, potentially, from a distance. But he also has spots on his face.

Jemima Kelly
Now, Miguel had made some money trading various crypto tokens since about 2017, and he figured he’d like to use some of that crypto to buy this pixelated head.

Miguel Mora
It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

Jemima Kelly
This unemployed former rapper and lawyer decided to spend $40,000 on CryptoPunk #5528.

Miguel Mora
I literally googled what is the value of the Mona Lisa because I felt like I’m buying 1/10,000th of the new Mona Lisa for the digital age. And as long as I’m paying less than 1/10,000th of the value of the Mona Lisa, I thought I was getting a deal.

Jemima Kelly
Now, you might think that taking the value of the most famous painting in history and just dividing it by 10,000 might be a little bit of an optimistic way of valuing an NFT. Because NFTs are — whatever you might have been told — essentially just a digital receipt. But for Miguel, it sparked an idea, a way of reviving his music career.

Miguel Mora
What really struck me was you would get followers on Twitter if you changed your profile picture to a CryptoPunk. People that were into NFTs or trying to learn about them or crypto in general, they would start to listen to you. I remember what it was like as a musician trying to get people’s attention or try to get their ear. And that’s not always the easy thing to do.

Jemima Kelly
Excited, Miguel got on to a video call with his best friend, a music producer he used to work with years earlier.

Miguel Mora
We hadn’t made music together in years because I hadn’t written a song in seven or eight years. And I just, I sat him down. We got on a Google hang-out, and I shared my screen, and then I showed him my CryptoPunk. And I told him, you know, you might laugh or say I’m crazy, but I spent $40,000 on this, and I have an idea. I’m gonna turn him into a rapper, and I’m gonna call him Spottie WiFi. I thought that was gonna be the tough part of the conversation, and I was gonna have to twist his arm. He immediately got it and was super into it.

Jemima Kelly
So today Miguel is, well, he’s actually no longer just Miguel or not when he’s in the metaverse anyway. You know, the metaverse, that kind of virtual reality, immersive version of the internet that we’re all apparently gonna be living in very soon.

Miguel Mora
My name is Spottie WiFi. I am the world’s best and only CryptoPunk rapper.

Jemima Kelly
And all thanks to CryptoPunk #5528.

Miguel Mora
The concerts were all metaverse performances. It opened up a new world to me, which is the metaverse, where I could create a lure. I could create a universe, a Spottie verse.

Audio clip
. . . crypto punk with the gift.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Jemima Kelly
This is Tech Tonic from the Financial Times, a podcast about how technology is changing the world for the better and for the worse. I’m Jemima Kell, and in this series I’m asking why do people still believe in crypto and its underlying technology, the blockchain? I’m taking a journey through what I like to call crypto land to find out whether this year’s huge crypto crash has brought people back down to earth. For artists like Spottie WiFi, there’s an easy answer. The blockchain gave us NFTs and NFTs have created a new way for people like him to make some money. Now, anyone who’s listened to the first couple of episodes in this series might know by now that I am no fan of anything crypto-related, but are NFTs finally an example of crypto doing something good? Or are they just the latest get-rich-quick scheme for the crypto sphere? This is episode three: NFT mania.

To understand how the blockchain found its way into the art world, you might start here, at this brightly lit studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Kevin McCoy
This is, this kind of robotic drawing machine that I put together a couple of years ago. And it’s been, you know, an increasingly big part of the works that I’ve been doing.

Jemima Kelly
This is where Kevin McCoy works. He’s an artist. Today, he’s working with a strange contraption that he’s built himself. A bundle of cords dangle from the ceiling attached to a black pen that’s suspended over a large square of paper.

Kevin McCoy
Can work with pens, it can work with paint and brushes, can work with charcoal. I’ve written software that can create lots of different types of images that have different kind of looks to it.

Jemima Kelly
Kevin writes the code for this machine, and the pen follows that code with tiny mechanical strokes to create these spindly geometric images.

Kevin McCoy
These images are ultimately started from photographs of tree branches that have done these software processes to, to kind of weave them together into these kind of thatched patterns. And this is kind of test . . . 

Jemima Kelly
Kevin’s use of computer programming in art goes back to the late nineties and early noughties. He was part of a wave of so-called net art in New York, which worked with early iterations of the internet. So it was a kind of natural progression for him to start looking at bitcoin and the blockchain.

Kevin McCoy
I had been really obsessed with bitcoin and that technology, I mean 2012 and 2013, once I saw that what bitcoin was, was a form of digital property. Once I saw that, to me it was like, oh, there’s got to be a way that this could work for an artwork, the digital artwork. Conceptually and artistically, that’s the thinking that brought me to inventing an NFT.

Jemima Kelly
Yeah, you had that right. Kevin invented NFTs, he says. Other people also make this claim, but many do agree that Kevin was first. Back then, they weren’t known as NFTs. But in 2014, Kevin came up with an idea, a way of recording digital art on the blockchain. The idea came about during a hackathon style event where Kevin collaborated with a software developer named Anil Dash.

Kevin McCoy
An artist is paired with a technologist, and you have 24 hours to work together and then to make a presentation.

Jemima Kelly
Kevin and Anil worked on their idea late into the night.

Kevin McCoy
We were working from the offices of an ad agency in Lower Manhattan, and it was actually it was pretty hilarious because it was, I think it was a Friday night and the event then was Saturday, the next day, I think. And this is 2014 so it’s like really the height of start-up and digital culture, and the office is now a cool place and all the kind you know, of crazy architecture and free this and free that, like whatever. It was just like running wild. And so there was just a full bar, beer taps, like food, like whatever. And there was just this raging after work party going on while we were in this little glass office room.

Anil Dash
This is like trying to work on this stuff.

Kevin McCoy
These people were, like, partying around us.

Jemima Kelly
Kevin and Anil came up with something they called monetised graphics, a way of establishing ownership of digital art. Basically, the artworks would be stored as strings of code, which you could buy and sell in the same way you might bitcoin.

Kevin McCoy
It’s just this kind of metadata statement that points to the file, points to how to verify the file, points to me as the creator of it, and makes a kind of ownership statement about it. And then that record itself is transferable. You know, the artwork never changes, never has to jump anywhere or go anywhere.

Jemima Kelly
They presented their idea to the others at the hackathon, but it was late and people were getting a bit tired.

Kevin McCoy
We went way over time. The whole company’s at the end of this conference, and everyone was like ready to get to the bar. So everyone was like, you know, oh my God. So it was like, boom, boom, boom, boom.

Jemima Kelly
Still, the more people listened, the more the idea seemed to strike a chord.

Kevin McCoy
And there was a number of questions about how is this ownership of the artworks right there? You know, what does that mean? What does this ownership mean? You know, but then right at the end, right before the break, this guy stood up and goes, you know, and he looked to the audience, not to, not to us. He looked out to the audience and he goes, you know, I’ve been, you know, working with this technology for a long time. And what we saw here is something really special, really incredible. And I just want everybody to know that (laughter) there was one person that, you know, that got it.

Jemima Kelly
Kevin left the conference feeling pretty psyched. He thought he’d hit on something big. He even went on to build an early NFT marketplace. But . . . 

Kevin McCoy
No buyers. Zero. Nothing. Nobody bought anything. You know, it was just too early. The idea just was not there. That experience of being too early was really crazy, really remarkable. Painful.

Jemima Kelly
It would take a few years for the idea to really take hold. But by 2021, anything crypto-related was booming and in particular NFTs. They were the hottest thing in crypto land and some of them were changing hands for millions of dollars.

Kevin McCoy
And then people were, you know, then like reaching out to me and like saying, Is this what you were doing? It’s like, Yeah, that’s, that’s it (laughter). This is it, this is what I was talking about five years ago.

Jemima Kelly
Eventually, Kevin McCoy was able to sell that very first NFT, the one he created with Anil at the hackathon years earlier. The NFT was called Quantum. It was a simple animation of a geometric shape on a black background.

Kevin McCoy
A curator that was working with Sotheby’s reached out to me and knew that I, you know, kind of about the history of this work. And we ended up taking that very first work, Quantum, to, to auction last year at Sotheby’s with a sale last spring. And that was, you know, was successful. It’s good.

Jemima Kelly
Quantum sold for $1.4mn.

Cristina Criddle
So NFT sales were $40bn last year, which from a relatively niche area to that is massive. And in comparison, the global art market sales were over $50bn by some estimates. So NFTs, which most people hadn’t heard of, almost making the same amount as the global art market.

Jemima Kelly
Cristina Criddle is a technology reporter at the FT. Among other things, she covers NFTs, and in 2021, she saw how they turned the art market upside down. Some digital artists were suddenly finding a market for their work.

Cristina Criddle
The most notable one was Beeple, which was an artist who created this collage as an NFT and that sold for $69mn. So that was a really high amount. You saw lots of established artists getting involved, like Damien Hirst. Sotheby’s and Christie’s were both holding NFT auctions and you see a lot of fine artists coming into the space and art dealers really taking notice and considering investing in NFTs.

Jemima Kelly
And there were other financial benefits for some artists as well.

Cristina Criddle
A lot of artists who love NFTs are saying this is a new form of revenue for them, a new form of control. With the blockchain and with NFTs, you can code it in to the technology that whenever that NFT, that token is sold again, then a proportion of that sale will go back to the artists and they will always take a cut of that, which means that they’re cutting out the middleman, like agents in the traditional art market sphere. And I’ve spoken to artists who were struggling as fine artists beforehand, but have since they’ve started going into NFTs have managed to make it really successful through these secondary sales.

Jemima Kelly
You can actually make an NFT out of pretty much anything. And people have: tweets, newspaper articles, music. But in terms of the 2021 bubble, the biggest markets were in one off digital artworks and PFPs, or profile picture collections. Those are typically cartoonish pictures like the CryptoPunk that Spottie WiFi uses, and people trade them a bit like baseball cards.

Cristina Criddle
They’re probably the ones that most people have seen, the ones of cartoon apes, you know, pixelated punks or funny cats. And those are bought and sold and are very, very speculative. And those ones are mainly made so that you can put them on your Twitter profile and show off.

Jemima Kelly
All of this developed into a veritable mania. People were buying and selling NFTs at crazy prices on huge NFT marketplaces. Everything was getting a little bit out of control.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Jemima Kelly
So I can see that NFTs have benefited some struggling artists, and I’m happy for them, truly. And this is, after all, exactly the story that the promoters of the techno utopian vision of Web 3 like to push. The online content creator connecting with their audience more directly and taking a bigger car than they might have in the middleman ridden world of Web 2. But it is worth remembering that an NFT is not actually itself a piece of digital art. It’s a string of code that’s meant to represent ownership. Anyone can mint an NFT of absolutely anything at any time without any oversight. All of which might leave you wondering: what are people actually buying here, and why are they buying it? So given how fuzzy it all is and how much money there is to be made, it’s hardly surprising that like every other crypto invention, the NFT market has become a breeding ground for scammers.

Edwin Lane
What proportion of the NFT world at the moment do you think is a scam?

Aless Ribeiro
Easy 90 per cent. I could say 95 about. I’ll go with 90.

Edwin Lane
If I told you that a market was 90 to 95 per cent fraud . . . 

Aless Ribeiro
You’d run away from it. But in this, in this case, people tend to come even more. I don’t know why to be honest. It’s, it’s very crazy.

Jemima Kelly
That’s our producer, Edwin Lane, speaking to Aless Ribeiro. Aless’s day job is in property in London. But a few years ago, Aless got into the crypto markets. And then late last year, he saw the fortunes some people were making buying and selling NFTs like CryptoPunks. And he started speculating on NFTs instead. He and his friends pulled their money together, but things didn’t go quite as planned.

Aless Ribeiro
I was just a normal NFT investor trying to make it from all the hype and essentially I created a group on WhatsApp, an investment group. Everyone had to put $250 into a wallet, the group wallet. I called the wallet Los Locos, like crazy. And with that $1,500 I went to buy four NFTs, and they all turned out to be rugs.

Jemima Kelly
Rug pulls or rugs are an amazingly common scam in crypto land. They’re basically an exit scam. Promoters hype up the price of a token or NFT so that people buy in and then disappear with all the money. With NFTs, the idea is to hype a new collection, telling everyone that it will be the next CryptoPunks or Bored Ape Yacht Club and then get people to essentially pre-order their NFTs. Once they’ve collected all the money, the scammers pull away the rug. Sometimes the buyers do get an NFT, but they’re so laughably bad, even by the standards of NFT art, that it’s obvious that they’ve been scammed.

Aless Ribeiro
So one of them was a, it’s called Ancient Cats. You know, when you buy an NFT, you don’t know where you’re buying it until they release the image. And when the image got released, it was just a joke. It’s supposed to look like ancient cats, like Egyptian gods, but they had beards, which you can see is pretty much copy and paste on top of the image. So it’s, it looks like a (inaudible).

Jemima Kelly
Aless got rug pulled by scammers so many times that he decided to look into who was behind them. He began by tracking the cryptocurrency wallets of the scammers.

Aless Ribeiro
And then I pretty much just got deep into it, especially like researching where the money movement goes because, you know, the blockchain is transparent, right? You can, you know exactly where the money is going, where the money’s coming from. So I just, I just jumped in to that, trying to track where all the money of these rugs went to, to try and find out who the owners are because most of them are anonymous.

Jemima Kelly
Using the somewhat low-tech method of a pen and sheets of printed paper, Aless would stay up into the early hours in his kitchen, copying out the 30-digit addresses of suspects’ wallets by hand.

Aless Ribeiro
I would just grab a piece of paper in my book, sometimes just from my printer (sound of paper being torn off) and I would just like make arrows to see, OK 2 million came from the Ancient Cats collection. Where did it go?

Jemima Kelly
It was a while before he realised there was software that could do a lot of this for him. He never worked out the identity of the scammers, but he did find that again and again, it was the same crypto wallets, the same people pulling off one rug pull scam after another, and they were making millions of dollars. Aless was understandably pretty cross about it. So much so that he decided to launch an Instagram account under the name Rug Pull Hunter. It acts a bit like a wall of shame, warning people of certain NFT projects. The biggest one was called Bored Bunnies, a rip-off of the incredibly successful Bored Apes collection, showing a bunch of bunnies looking, you guessed it — bored.

Aless Ribeiro
Bored Bunny made 25mn. So they stole 25mn. That’s the biggest collection we have uncovered, pretty much. Bored Bunnies I would say is a, is on a different league in terms of other collections because they’re popularised by artists and famous people buying the collection.

Jemima Kelly
And this is the bit that really gets me. Aless was sounding clear warnings on Instagram, but the NFT crowd didn’t care. They wouldn’t listen.

Aless Ribeiro
I told everyone a month before they even released. So people didn’t believe me because you’re lying. That’s not true. When I clearly posted images of where the money went and everything else, but people didn’t believe until it was too late.

Jemima Kelly
Rug pulls are actually just one way that con artists, forgers and scammers exploit the NFT boom. Another thing that happens all the time is that people take someone else’s work and then make an NFT out of it and they, not the original creator, take the money. And this points to the fundamental problem with NFTs. In reality, they don’t solve the problem they were meant to solve. Here’s tech reporter Cristina Criddle again.

Cristina Criddle
One of the solutions that NFTs are meant to bring is like it’s a certified proof that you have the authentic item. You can see that on the blockchain. And so that is proof that you own the original. But what happens quite a lot in the NFT market is that people have just taken that jpeg and then relisted it under a very similar name and created lots of these copycat NFTs which people buy. There are a lot of scams, there are loads of issues around copyright as well, and OpenSea has been trying to take all of them down, but it’s a massive issue and there isn’t a regulation there yet.

Jemima Kelly
OpenSea, by the way, is the biggest marketplace for NFTs. And with broader crypto markets collapsing, sales of NFTs are down more than 90 per cent from the peak of the market frenzy. So, are NFTs dead?

Cristina Criddle
Some NFTs are probably dead. I mean, some are completely rubbish and valueless now, and that will never come back. But there are still a lot of NFTs still going around. Lots of big brands entering this, luxury brands talking about the metaverse, releasing NFTs, especially in relation to sort of digital fashion and things like that. You’ve got Facebook changing its name to Meta because of the metaverse and releasing NFTs on Instagram. Twitter also has NFTs and like I say, those big investors who are still very, very bullish on this.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Audio clip
The Metaverse today is still just an idea starting to take shape with games like Roblox or Meta’s Horizon Worlds, giving us glimpses of what virtual spaces where people can interact via avatars would look like.

Audio clip
In this video, we’re gonna be talking about a release of an NFT collection that is coming from one of the most prominent fashion brands in the entire world, and they are known as Gucci.

Audio clip
Nike is getting in on the NFT craze, filing several trademarks for virtual goods.

Jemima Kelly
Luxury brands and tech companies jumped on the idea that NFTs would become the foundations of the new metaverse economy and an integral part of Web 3.

Audio clip
The metaverse, the next frontier of the internet. This to me has been the promise of NFTs from the beginning. You’re going to have your normal closet and a digital closet.

Cristina Criddle
So I think NFTs will still be around. They’re not dead, but maybe not in their current form. And there’s definitely a question over whether they’re gonna have that mass consumer appeal like, will your average person walking down the street have an NFT that they can show you on their phone. Probably not. Not for now. But maybe in future.

[Sound of a crowd of people]

Jemima Kelly
If you want a sense of the enthusiasm that still exists around NFTs even after the crash, head somewhere like NFT NYC. It’s a major event on the crypto calendar, a conference in New York where NFT fans and the developers behind NFT projects leave the Discord channels and internet message boards to meet up IRL — in real life. In June, our producer Josh Gabert-Doyon was there.

So Josh, what was it like?

Josh Gabert-Doyon
It’s big. Very big. There were 16,000 people at this conference and a lot of people there went to promote their own NFT projects even with this collapsing market. It was at a big hotel off of Times Square in the middle of New York City, and there were five floors of exhibition halls, lots of talks going on. These really quick five-minute, ten-minute talks. People just pitching their companies and their NFT collections. And as I walked through this big foyer, there was actually a jazz band that had been hired, kind of a wandering jazz band. And I ended up kind of following them around and getting in the middle of this weird performance that kind of erupted where one of the attendees jumped in and started playing with them.

Jemima Kelly
Wow. Sounds wonderful. And I guess the people there were mainly true believers, I imagine.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Yeah, I spoke to a lot of exhibitors and whatever was going on in the crypto market, they didn’t really seem to be bothered by it. They had a real devotion to this technology, a real continued enthusiasm for NFTs, and they had all these kind of crazy uses for NFTs that were dreamed up like an NFT rollercoaster.

Audio clip
We are creating the first NFT-funded real world coaster. It will be in a 3,000 sq ft warehouse and will also be in the metaverse as well as via VR (sound of people in a ride, screaming).

Audio clip
We doing NFT luxury watches, especially in the metaverse when the metaverse gets big. There’s the need for fashion. There’s the need for watches. So we provide them (sound of cash register).

Martin Ring Line
My name is Martin Ringline, and we are introducing FurInsure, which is the world’s first pet insurance DAO. So, so real insurance for real cats and dogs. But built on Web3 technology (meow).

Audio clip
We’re building ways to connect to all these metaverses. We’re building the roads, the highways and the pipes so that your virtual identity goes beyond being a profile picture and actually allows you to embody that and become that identity and take it cross-platform.

Audio clip
We can go into games. We can go into any 3D environment, and then our marker-less motion capture allows us to extract the data from your body, apply that to the model in real time, and replace you with your asset.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Josh Gabert-Doyon
It’s worth adding also that there was a lot of hype around these projects. I mean, some real hype with free merchandise, kind of promo stuff going on. I saw Ja Rule playing at a big open bar. It was kind of an after party on the first night of the conference.

Audio clip of Ja Rule

Jemima Kelly
That’s Ja Rule, like my favourite rapper when I was a teenager.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Yeah, that’s, that, that Ja Rule. And at one point he was doing his set in front of a big advertisement for a NFT horseracing company. So kind of metaverse horseracing, metaverse gambling.

Jemima Kelly
Amazing.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
There was also a line of exhibitors who had set up trucks outside of the hotel along this street in the middle of Manhattan, and they were just offering free stuff.

What, what are you guys giving out here?

Fluff World guy
Free carrot juice.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
And it’s associated with an NFT project?

Fluff World guy
Yes, it is. Yeah, for Fluff World.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
What’s, what’s Fluff World? Tell me a little bit about it.

Fluff World guy
I have no idea (laughter).

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Do you know about, what Fluff World’s all about?

Truck driver
No.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Who does?

Truck driver
I’m the driver.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
You’re the driver of this truck, and, and we don’t know where the Flavours of Fluff World people are (laughter). That’s all right. That’s OK. Thank you for the carrot.

Tribe Koaka
The name of our NFT project is Tribe Koaka. One from Naples gets a koozie. Yeah (audience cheering). I think we could go one can here and try, but we just haven’t. Let’s go. Yeah.

Jemima Kelly
I mean, presumably a lot of the people there had lost a lot of money on NFTs. So how is it that they’re all there, like having a great time at this conference, when the whole thing is collapsing around them?

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Well, look, people had lost a lot of money. There’s no doubt about that. I asked a few of them about this.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Has it impacted your personal portfolio at all?

Unidentified NFT investor
I mean, definitely. I mean, I think we’re all extremely invested in this, especially if you have a career in this space. It’s not only your personal like liquid portfolio, but your entire like career is in this space as well. So like, that’s definitely been impacted. But, you know, I think we feel really good going forward to be honest.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
Do you mind if I ask you how much you’re down?

Unidentified NFT investor
Ah, yeah, I’m not gonna share the exact numbers.

Tony Ruggieri
My name’s Tony Ruggieri, and I’m here with YellowHeart.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
What do you guys do?

Tony Ruggieri
We are an NFT ticketing platform and music platform.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
How much money have you lost? Can I ask?

Tony Ruggieri
A lot.

Josh Gabert-Doyon
But time and time again, the take home message that people were telling me was that it did not matter. They saw these potential applications. The future of NFTs in the metaverse. These big brand deals. The whole kind of digital cottage industry around NFTs. And they felt like in the long run they’d come out on top. As far as a lot of people at the conference were concerned, this is inevitably what our future is going to look like. Even if there are scams and market downturns and unrealised promises and how the tech actually works.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Jemima Kelly
Kevin McCoy, the artist who came up with an early version of the NFT, wanted to come up with a way of making digital art sellable. But given the scams and the market’s collapse, does he still think NFTs have a future?

Kevin McCoy
It’s critical that there’s some way for an artist to be able to control the dispersion of their work and where it goes and how it goes. I mean NFTs are right now the best way of allowing that to happen.

Rap artist
Spottie WiFi. Historic shit. First of its kind. Change.org.

Jemima Kelly
NFT rap star Spottie WiFi sold his album as an NFT collection at the height of the mania, and it sold out in less than a minute. He made $200,000 from it, but his audience was never huge. It’s basically just a segment of the crypto community, and since then, NFT sales have fallen off a cliff. So the question is, will anyone stick around and keep buying his music? And what is the future of NFTs more broadly? Could sales start soaring again if the long awaited crypto summer arrives? Could prices get back into the millions? And will people still care about NFTs in five years’ time? My guess is no. NFTs were kind of fun for a while, and I guess some people still think they are fun. But once the novelty is gone and the hype fades, you’re basically left with a string of code linked to a jpeg of a pixelated punk or a bored looking ape. Next time on Tech Tonic, we ask the big question of this series: Why do people believe in crypto?

Josh Gabert-Doyon
When people engage in crypto, it is not the way that they engage in any other hobby. The beliefs in crypto are quite extreme and very absurd.

Jemima Kelly
And is this something special about the first cryptocurrency of them all, bitcoin? You’ve been listening to Tech Tonic from the Financial Times with me, Jemima Kelly. Special thanks this week to the FT’s tech reporter Cristina Criddle and global tech correspondent Tim Bradshaw, who conducted the interview with Spottie WiFi. Tech Tonic senior producer is Edwin Lane. Our producer is Josh Gabert-Doyon and Manuela Saragosa is executive producer. Our sound engineer is Breen Turner, with original scoring by Metaphor Music. The FT’s head of audio is Cheryl Brumley.

This transcript has been automatically generated. If by any chance there is an error please send the details for a correction to: typo@ft.com. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible.

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