When Amitabh Bachchan hosted his first Non-Fungible Token (NFT) auction last month, the response was overwhelming. The auction, which included NFT versions of Bachchan reciting his father’s work ‘Madhushala’ among other collectibles, crossed cumulative sales of $966,000 or approx Rs 7.18 crore. But more importantly for Guardianlink, the no-code NFT platform that helped power the auction, this was proof that the NFT market when mixed with a big celebrity has huge potential in India.
“GuardianLink is an NFT ecosystem firm. We build technology for the bands and artists that we work with and provide them with the launchpad and marketplace to launch their own NFT. We take care of the end-to-end services for the NFT ecosystem,” Ram Subramanian, CEO & Co-Founder, GuardianLink explains to indianexpress.com
The platform provides an integrated solution for any brand or celebrity looking to cash in on the phenomena of NFTs, where a digital file or asset, be it a jpeg or a music file, is assigned a monetary value. NFTs ownership is recorded on a blockchain or public ledger, and most often cryptocurrency is used to purchase these digital assets. And just as cryptocurrencies have seen a boom in recent times, this too has fueled interest in the NFT world.
The Chennai-based company, which also has offices in Japan and Singapore, is working with brands across the globe. In India, it is working with MTV, the Big Bang Social influencer network as well as a major news brand to help them set up their own NFT platform.
The platform also helps other brands curate their NFTs, or helping them figure out which properties or assets could be converted into NFTs and become a source of revenue. “Let’s say a media brand would like to go ahead and launch their own NFT marketplace. We would try and help them understand what are the properties they own that could be NFTiable and help the brand package it in a particular way that it can be NFTied,” Subramanian adds.
The way Subramaniam sees it, NFTs are a new form of monetising, and that potential is being seen by brands and celebrities. This is also why celebrities such as Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Sonu Nigam are all joining the trend in India.
GuardianLink is also hoping to stand out from other players in the market, which offer similar solutions. One differentiating factor that they are touting is their Anti-Rip Spyder Technology, which the company claims can crawl through marketplaces and disclose duplicated NFTs using the proprietary AI/ML solutions.
“We started with the understanding that in this market, it needs bigger players to come in to make it more legitimate. While we are only looking at collectibles and consumables from individual artists, we wanted to bring in the big names, be it Sony, etc,” Arjun Reddy, Chief Technology Officer, GuardianLink points out.
He gave the example of iTunes, and how it came at the perfect time, convincing the music industry that it was time to go digital without losing the copyright of their content. That’s something the company is hoping to emulate with their own technology when it comes to NFTs and wants to be at the frontline of legitimisation of NFTs, though Reddy admits there are challenges.
The company claims it is scanning millions of records of NFT’s every minute to identify if there is a duplicate residing somewhere. If they do find one, they will notify the brand to help them make a decision.
“Apple gave brands and labels the confidence that their work will not be ripped off with iTunes. So we want to bring it to the stage where we take the media files from the brand or label or address and we have a number of proprietary processes, both centralised and decentralised, whichever the brand feels is better. We will apply it so that only the holders of the NFT can view it or access it or consume it,” he explained.
The way the company envisions it, NFTs will expand to more than just items being collected by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and instead, become a key component of the mainstream brand strategy.
According to the CEO, this is already happening as movies are being launched as an NFT such as the Anthony Hopkins thriller ‘Zero Contact,’ which is being auctioned off by Vuele, an NFT film distribution platform.
NFTs, he believes, have already evolved beyond collectibles to holding some utility. One example he gives is the Stoner Cats web series announced by Mila Kunis, where buying the NFT will give users access to exclusive content. In this case, the NFT has already made $8 million and becomes the ticket to view that series.
But is there a worry of regulation, especially with talks of a new cryptocurrency bill? Subramaniam is confident that NFTs won’t face the same legal hurdles as cryptocurrency will, and he’s hopeful that the market will figure out other forms of payments should the worst happen.
“I would really like the Indian Government to see this as a new export asset class that doesn’t pollute. NFTs are not digital currencies. I don’t see them being an issue from a legal perspective, though in the long run, I see regulations coming for NFTs as well,” he said.
However, he admits that because NFTs have always been looked upon as the same bucket as cryptocurrencies, a downfall in the crypto market could impact NFTs too. But he is confident that as brands and celebrities will offer utilities with NFTs, the thinking will change around them and this is what will eventually drive the market, not the speculation and the correlation they have with cryptocurrencies.