Hosted by China’s leading e-commerce platform which generated more than $500 billion USD in revenue in 2020, Taobao Maker Festival (TMF) is an annual summit that brings together top creators and innovators from the Taobao community.
Built on a C2C, or consumer-to-consumer retail model, Taobao lets small businesses and individuals launch their own online storefronts. The TMF rewards the most outstanding young creators and small businesses with greater market exposure by spotlighting their creativity and making their products more discoverable on Taobao Marketplace. According to Analysys, Taobao Marketplace was China’s largest mobile commerce destination with a large and growing social community.
About Taobao Maker Festival 2021
Taobao Maker Festival 2021 will take place from July 17 to 25 at Shanghai’s National Exhibition and Convention Centre. This year is the first TMF to include NFTs, the buzziest crypto concept of the year, and the organizers and community alike are embracing the opportunity.
The blockchain-based development platform NEAR Protocol partnered with NEAR’s ecosystem app developer Web3Games to provide the software solutions for an artist-driven NFT sale at the exhibition. Huang Heshan, a young artist graduated from Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, will showcase his NFT artwork at the Taobao Maker Festival.
NFTs: Behind the Buzz
With history-making $2.47 billion sales figures in the first half of 2021 and the rise of dozens of NFT marketplaces across many protocols, NFT art has become one of the biggest breakthroughs of the year in the digital art space.
An NFT, or non-fungible token, links a piece of data on a blockchain to a unique digital or real-world asset such as an artwork, a concert ticket or even an identification document. NFTs have the potential to facilitate new revenue streams for creators by establishing new forms of digital property and acting as new channels to reach customers, fans, and communities.
About Huang He Shan
Huang He Shan is a “Beijing drifter”, arriving from a small town in Southern China. China’s Great Uprooting has moved 250 million population from rural to urban areas in less than a decade. Huang’s work captures the quintessential rural lifestyle that stands out against China’s rapid urbanization.
Huang coined the term “Wild Design” to capture the barbaric self-reliance of non-professional designers. It’s a visual phenomenon commonly found in daily life and inspired by huge social needs. Untrained designers are ridiculed for their cheap production and rogue methods. At the same time their designs complete the most basic and most massive information transmission work of China’s bottom society. The “Wild Design” series is the result of his extensive research into individual, social and cultural aspects of urban villages. The “Wild Design” series was well received at Tsinghua Academy of Fine Arts in 2016. He then launched two other series called “Fake IKEA” and “Toorich Series”. Both received great success.
Powered by NEAR Protocol, Huang’s latest artwork — “Toorich City Series” — is a collection of unique NFTs created around a virtual character named Mr. Toorich. The character is a “tuhao” (meaning nouveau riche in English) and a real estate tycoon. He decides to use his wealth to build accessible housing and improve the lives of families in his city.
The theme of Huang’s Taobao Maker Festival NFT exhibition is a collection of real estate developed by Mr. Toorich, called “Butu Garden.”
Minting NFTs on NEAR
“I’m psyched to work with NEAR Protocol and Web3Games,” Huang expressed. With the support of NEAR, he was struck by how user-friendly and easy it was to mint an NFT and interact with the blockchain, despite having no prior experience in crypto. According to Huang, users can place an order on Taobao and pay using Chinese Yuan, and then they will be able to receive a link (similar to an “airdrop”) containing the NFT digital artwork. Upon opening the link, it only takes a few simple steps to register a NEAR wallet and claim their purchased NFTs. This easy onboarding flow paired with NEAR’s very low transaction fees (just a few cents) makes interacting with crypto inexpensive and simple for novices like him. “If I were to issue the NFTs on legacy blockchain platforms, it would cost me even a few hundred US dollars sometimes to issue each NFT, whereas on NEAR, an environmentally-friendly blockchain platform, minting an NFT could cost below 1 cent.”
In Huang’s view, the technical features of NFTs not only guarantee the provenance and prove ownership, but also allow artists to automatically receive royalties from all future resales of the artwork. This is uniquely possible on NEAR thanks to the smart-contract level NFT standard, which allows for customizable royalty splits on minting and guarantees them on secondary markets. Huang is excited to continue building the story of Mr. Toorich and experiment with more NFT-related products in the future, especially in the realm of the metaverse.
The Road to Mass Adoption
“NFTs are changing the collectible market, and there are more and more NFTers stepping into the space,” said Amos Zhang, Head of Asia at NEAR Protocol. “NFTs are an innovative concept and Huang’s work is unique with strong cultural values. That’s why we decided to launch NFT-based artwork with Huang and debut them at the Taobao Maker Festival. We hope that this partnership will help us bring blockchain technology and NFT to mainstream audiences and create new channels to reach real world users,” said Zhang.
Despite the growing popularity of NFTs this year, the high minting costs and complex onboarding have prevented truly widespread adoption so far. In order to use learlier blockchain platforms like Ethereum, a user needs to understand complex concepts such as public-private key pairing, setting up a mobile wallet app or browser plugin, and purchasing cryptocurrency on an exchange and transferring to a wallet — all before they can purchase a single NFT.
NEAR adopts a progressive security design that allows app developers to obscure the crypto elements from users until they are ready to onboard to holding a wallet or tokens. Take the upcoming Taobao Maker Festival’s NFT as an example: users do not need to register for a NEAR account in advance. They only need to obtain a digital artwork URL on the Taobao store and go through a few simple steps to complete the transaction. The NEAR account creation process is also very simple and straightforward, and unlike the typical 64-digit public keys on other protocols, NEAR account names are human-readable and easy to remember (for example, taobao.near).
In fact, NEAR has made great progress in exploring use cases of NFT for mass adoption. The recent launch of NFT.hiphop on NEAR is one example. Ed Young, co-founder of The Source magazine, released a collection of NFT portraits featuring iconic hip-hop artists from the 1970s to now to honor the 47 years of the hip-hop era. In addition, the NEAR-based NFT platform Mintbase has also partnered with the renowned German music festival Wilde Moehre, where event tickets have been minted as NFTs as part of an immersive festival experience in a metaverse-like virtual world.
NEAR’s Amos Zhang further commented, “NFTs are beyond just digital collectibles. As an innovative technology, they can power many use cases across different industries. NEAR’s goal is to bridge the users of today’s Internet to the blockchain-based web of the future.”
About NEAR Protocol:
NEAR is a decentralized application platform built to bridge the users of today’s Internet to the blockchain-based web of the future. NEAR is a PoS Layer 1 blockchain platform, built with UX and DevX in mind. NEAR’s novel sharding mechanism, Nightshade, parallelizes computation on chain and automatically increases capacity when needed, resulting in theoretically infinite scalability.
NEAR Protocol is built by a world-class team of engineers and entrepreneurs, who have won 2 ICPC world championships and medals, Google Code Jam and TopCoder. NEAR is backed by A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Blockchain.com and Baidu Ventures.
Web3Games is a collective blockchain for next generation gaming and digital assets. By bridging blockchain technology, NFTs and DeFi with virtual gaming, Web3Games offers an ecosystem of tools and frameworks for players and developers to take ownership of their gameplay.