If there’s one thing that can be said about the auto industry, it’s that the market lives and dies by innovation. The most popular options on the road are often those with the most advanced technology and features available. Technology has never been more important than it is right now, and every brand and dealership out there are trying to outwit each other and prove they have the most compelling and impressive options. Recently, a Ford dealer took innovation to the next level by selling NFTs rather than vehicles, and the results have been eye-opening.
What Is an NFT?
Before we look at what this innovative Ford dealership has done, it’s important for us to all be on the same page about what we’re talking about. You’ve probably already heard the term “NFT” thrown around over the last year or so since these things have become increasingly popular, for some reason. So let’s talk about what we’re talking about here.
NFT means “Non-Fungible Token” glad we got that out of the way; it’s all so clear now. Let’s break this down a bit further—“Non” is pretty straightforward; it’s a prefix that means “not” and is used to indicate negation or the absence of whatever it is modifying—we see this in all sorts of words like, “nonpayment” or “nonsensical.” So far, so good? Okay…
Up next, “Fungible” is probably not a word you ever encountered before this whole NFT craze because it’s generally only used in law and commerce, not daily speech. If something is fungible, then it can be easily exchanged or replaced for something else that is similar or identical in most ways. Looking at your car, for example, that is a fungible item because it can be replaced with another car—even the same make and model. Therefore, something that is non-fungible is an item that cannot be replaced or exchanged, something that’s unique.
Finally, we have “token,” which can have a few different meanings but generally refers to something that serves to represent or indicate something else, like a state of being, an event, or whatever. Let’s say you’re watching “Back to the Future,” and Doc Brown is explaining his plan to Marty using a model car on the table—this car is a token that represents the actual DeLorean that Doc turned into a time machine. So, we put it all together, and a “Non-fungible token” is simply a unique thing that represents something else. There you go!
No, Really, What’s an NFT?
Okay, this still isn’t entirely clear, so let’s make this simpler. Merriam-Webster defines a Non-Fungible Token as “a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and is used to certify authenticity and ownership (as of a specific digital asset and specific rights relating to it).” A blockchain is a type of digital database that can be used and shared within a decentralized public network—it’s how cryptocurrency supposedly works.
So, an NFT is an identifier on one of these databases that’s unique and is used to demonstrate ownership of that specific spot on the blockchain. It’s not an actual thing, just the spot on a particular blockchain that is a representative of that thing. There’s no intellectual property rights involved, so no one is buying or selling copyrights or ownership of actual images or text. Makes sense now?
Goddamnit, Just Give Me a Straight Answer!
Okay, look, shut up. Open up a spreadsheet, whatever program you want; I don’t care. Now look at cell E17, got it? Now, let’s say you want to “own” that cell of that spreadsheet, not the actual data in it, but the cell that holds that data. That’s what an NFT is—you’re not buying an actual thing, not a picture, not a tweet, not a document. An NFT is a spot on the blockchain that represents that thing in that particular instance.
Yes, that means people are paying millions of dollars for what is effectively a cell on a spreadsheet and nothing more. Yes, it’s a scam being used by the ultra-rich to move money around, by the slightly rich to rip off the poor and middle-class, and by the poor and middle-class to lose more of their money.
This was supposed to be about cars, but now I’m tired, and I just want to lie down. A Ford dealership has started selling NFTs of their vehicles since they don’t actually have enough supply from the manufacturer. They figured if other people can sell nothing and get away with it, why not them? Funny, right? I have a headache…
Editor’s Note: Uncertain about the information in this piece, we asked a crypto-bro friend of ours to explain NFTs to us. He’s still talking, and we just don’t care anymore. We gave him $10,000 to invest in crypto and NFTs for us in the hopes that he would go away and never tell us about all of this again; it’s a small price to pay for a little peace and quiet. Thank you.