I’ve been thinking of how I want to write this post for days and all that has done for me is stop me from writing; it stopped me from being in action. Has that ever happened to you? You think yourself into no action?
I am aware this topic will warrant additional posts. In fact, the density of this topic had me thinking for days. Especially the implications of NFTs on exporting. So, please. Let’s quickly dismiss the expectation that what I am sharing with you in this post is complete within itself. We’re just getting started, literally.
And, I mean literally. NFTs are relatively two years old – if that.
A quick internet search defines NFTs or non-fungible tokens as “a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, that can be sold and traded. Types of NFT data units may be associated with digital files such as photos, videos, and audio.”
For both techies and non-techies, you have to read that definition a few times to process what it really means because there are so many other components to it (ie. blockchain). It was not until I read this Verge article that explained that ‘“Non-fungible” more or less means that it’s unique and can’t be replaced with something else. For example, a bitcoin is fungible — trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have exactly the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card, however, is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different,’ before I wrapped my head around NFTs.
It was important for me to begin to do my own research because I’d begun to see numerous posts across my various social media platforms about the boom of NFTs and the amount of money people were making both launching and investing in projects. As The Digital Diplomat, if NFTs is a new form of digital trade, then it’s my business to engage.
Now, there are different levels of engagement. You can define this as the 5 Customer Segments of Technology Adoption. I won’t go into this in detail for the purpose of keeping this post relatively short (well..I’ll do my best), but of the 5 segments: Innovators (2.5%), Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%), and Laggards (16%), I am in a healthy middle between Earl Adopters and the Early Majority.
According to this article OnDigitalMarketing.com, the Early Adopters are “the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realize judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283).”
Early Majority is defined as the following: “Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283)”.
The challenge that Early Adopters and the Early Majority face engaging new ideas, platforms or technologies are the imperfections and loopholes that come with anything new and barely tested. There has been a healthy amount of success for many investors of NFTs that has created a lot of FOMO (fear of missing out) online across social media platforms, but I am writing this article to warn you not to fall for the NFT scams. You’ll hear of the hundreds of millions of dollars people are making creating, launching and investing in NFT projects but you’ll rarely hear of the increase of scammers nesting on NFT marketplaces ie. OpenSea or communication portals ie. Discord, or the thousands of dollars stolen from digital wallets like MetaMask and Coinbase on the same platforms promoting the purchases of NFTs.
I told you from the start that this topic will warrant additional posts; there are a lot of layers to this topic especially if this is your first introduction to NFTs. And I hate to be the first to break it to you; NFT return on investments are real but so are the NFT scammers. I know this firsthand. Let’s get into it.
This was before my Metamask wallet was compromised and the mint was transferred out of my wallet to the scammer who stole it without my permission. You can see the mint on Opensea here, but not posted on my account. It doesn’t look like my mint was placed up for sale yet for a profit. The process of “minting” means collectors have an opportunity to become the first buyer of an NFT. Someone who mints is the original owner of the NFT before it is sold in a secondary market like Opensea at a higher price based on rarity score. Anyone who buys from an NFT marketplace like OpenSea are purchasing secondhand. They are not the original owners.
So, what happens to someone who’s NFT is stolen? Currently, there is nothing you can really do. Your stolen NFT is likely gone forever. I don’t have the time to go into depth about it in this post, but you can check out this article here for some immediate insight. This is one of the biggest risks and issues with the system in its current state. There are rarely any real consequences for scammers. And there are a lot of scammers. For example, you can contact OpenSea support with all your documents etc., but the chances of getting your NFT back is nearly impossible.
I got one email response from customer service. I am still waiting on my NFT to return to my OpenSea account. Maybe by the time I post my follow up article, I’ll have some good news but I am not holding my breath. I rather use it to share these insights with you so that you don’t fall into the NFT scam trap. I’ve read tons of posts of people who’ve lots large sums of money in NFT scams. I’ve even read news on how some marketplaces have shut down NFT sales because of rampant fakes and plagiarism.
Here are some Safety Tips from MetaMask I wish I understood in totality before I started purchasing NFTs.
Rule #1: Never share your 12-word Secret Recovery Phrase (SRP) or private keys
Rule #2: Beware of impersonators! Make sure to see their trust level 4.
Rule #3: Never DM with someone offering to help.
Rule #4: Never enter your secret recovery phrase or private keys into any website.
Rule #5: Never trust someone asking you to “authenticate your wallet”
Rule #6: Never import a private key or a seed phrase to your wallet that someone gave you
Rule #7: MetaMask Support will never DM to help you.
Rule #8: DO NOT join Discord servers, WhatsApps groups, WeChat groups, Telegram channels, or Twitter DMs. These are all scams. MetaMask does not provide support via these platforms.
Rule #9: Report scammers. You can help the stay community safe!
Rule #10: Beware of fake websites.
With all that said, I’m not giving up. I chuck this up to “field work” as The Digital Diplomat. You can’t help others navigate their blindspots if you’ve never experienced blindness. You can’t speak to someone’s shoes you’ve never walked. I credit my business partner at The VGC Group, Naomi Cook, for encouraging me to keep my head up. I felt a spirit of discouragement come over me after experiencing two different kinds of scams back to back on two NFT projects I’d been following for some time. But even still, I’m positive because I truly believe in the utility of NFTs and blockchain. In fact, the upset fueled hours of deep-dives into researching this area of work and ignited an even deeper interest to master it. (Here is where I hug and thank my scammer for enlightening me and triggering my interest.)
I’ll get into this angle in more depth in an upcoming post. I’ll share why I am continuing to invest my time and resources into NFTs as an Early Adopter even after being scammed. NFTs and the vehicle in which is operates on, blockchain, are here to stay.
NFTs may have started with digital files such as photos, videos, and audio, but that’s not how it will end. To this point, I would be remiss not to invite you to attend the National Association District Export Council Annual Conference this May 19-20th in Washington, DC. I am curating a panel session titled Exporting in Web 3.0: How to Navigate eCommerce, Metaverse, NFTs, Blockchain & Virtual Reality. Click here to register.
All exporters must get ready for the shift.