NFT vending machine appears in London

Don't everyone rush at once

NFTs are dead. And stupid. Don't just take our word for it – Bill Gates, widely considered a pretty smart guy, described them as "100 percent based on greater fool theory" and analyst Forrester recently said "most consumers aren't interested in NFT stunts."

Clearly the crypto-bros behind the NFT.London conference didn't get the memo because they've plopped "Europe's first NFT vending machine" outside the event's venue, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster.

While Her Maj is probably rolling in her grave to have her name even tangentially associated with it, the machine is purported to dispense non-fungible tokens for £10 ($11.22) – an almighty fall from grace for a concept whose most sought after examples once fetched multiple millions.

Indeed, the wider market crashed 97 percent from a high of $17 billion in January to $466 million in September as investors ditched risky assets in the face of inflation-curbing measures from central banks.

And they are risky. Earlier this year, Microsoft founder Gates told a tech event that he wouldn't touch the concept with a barge pole because NFTs only work if there is a "greater fool" than you who is willing to buy the overvalued assets for more than you did. NFTs have no intrinsic value, and there are going to be many people out there who have been stung.

Showing he hadn't read Forrester's forecast for metaverse-related rubbish come 2023, myNFT co-founder Hugo McDonaugh told Bloomberg the point of the vending machine was to make NFTs "more accessible" and "eliminate any barriers to entry."

The machine accepts contactless payment and Apple Pay. For that princely sum of £10, you will receive an envelope with a QR code inside, which you can use to redeem your token through the myNFT platform – no crypto-wallet needed. Brands represented in the vending machine include "Dr. Who Worlds Apart, Thunderbirds and Delft Blue Night Watch" if that means anything to you.

The NFTs are said to be "multichain," meaning they can be held on Ethereum, Polygon, BNB Chain, Moonbeam, and Moonriver. But you'll have to be quick. The machine is only there as long as the NFT.London conference, which ends today, though McDonaugh said they're "looking at a couple of bars" in the search for a permanent home.

In a statement, he claimed: "There is so much potential in the NFT market and it's such a shame to see some of that go to waste when possible investors are put off getting involved by various unnecessary and complicated barriers. We're determined to turn NFT investment into an everyday activity, and break it out of its current clique."

At which point we feel the need to break out the special Register guide to NFTs once again:

Non-fungible tokens for dummies

Want to buy nothing? You'd probably say no. That's because people don't like nothing, they like scarcity and status. In the digital world, scarcity doesn't work because data can be infinitely replicated.

But what if I faked digital scarcity? A database with limited spaces, each identified by a unique number. Think a line of people queuing for nothing. There's no value inherent in one spot over another, but I sell you a position in the queue. I'm not selling you the queue, or its destination (there isn't one), just the right to stand in this particular position.

You give me a dollar, and I give you some paper work, signed by yours truly, that says you have the right to stand there. Your position in the queue combined with my paper is a token that can't be recreated. There is only one of each position. It is, therefore, "non-fungible." The blockchain checks every single sale of a queue position and once you've bought your spot, it's listed on the blockchain. Want to sell your position to someone else? You can, and that transaction will be listed on the blockchain too.

Why would anyone want a spot in my queue? Well, what if I put up a poster next to your position? Every spot now has a unique poster, and buying a place in the queue means you can now stand next to that poster. You don't own the poster, you don't own the image on the poster, you can't reproduce the image, or sell copies, or claim any other type of ownership. What you've bought is the right to stand next to that poster – that's it. You can show your friends the receipt that says you can stand there. They might even think it's cool.

Congratulations, you now understand NFTs. Yes, it really is that stupid.

Buying nothing as an "everyday activity"? We bet there's a queue forming outside the vending machine right now. ®

Bootnote

Proceeds from the machine will supposedly go to Giveth and Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity, so it's not all bad, but there are links on each website that allow you to directly donate to their causes. Saves you a trip to Westminster. And a useless NFT.

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