NFT Chat with: Gauthier Zuppinger
Talking about the early days and the future of NonFungible.com, use cases beyond collectibles and measuring usage of NFTs
Who are you, what’s your background and what do you guys do?
I am Gauthier Zuppinger or “Zoup”, the COO & Co-Founder of NonFungible.com. I am handling mainly the UX and business side of things. My background is not software engineering, but in French literature and I am working as a consultant in my day job.
At NonFungible.com, we gather all the data from the NFT markets. We are the only ones that run a full ethereum node to display all the historical NFT transaction data in real-time to the community. We list about 15 projects so far, but we are working hard to list new projects every week.
What’s the story behind NonFungible.com? How did you meet your Co-Founder Dan Kelly and get involved in the project?
So actually, Dan is living near Toronto, Canada and I am living in Paris, France. The first time we met in person was at NFT.NYC this past February. We first met on the Decentraland Discord and started the NonFungible.com journey remotely in early 2018.
In the beginning, Dan wanted to build something to track the land sales on Decentraland for himself and then show it to the community. So in the beginning, he just built a small website, connected a light node and started tracking and publishing land sales data. And one or two weeks after the website was live, I asked him for a data export and I was super excited about what you could do with all this data. From there on, we started to build a UX and a greater vision for NonFungible.com. We came up with a lot of ideas on what we could build, like a wallet and premium features and also ways to monetize it. So this is how it began.
You guys currently seem to focus on gaming and crypto collectibles? Are you planning to expand beyond that (e.g. NFT tickets, licenses etc)?
To be honest, we are mainly focused on gaming and collectibles, because they’re active, exciting, and we see market potential to present this data. Crypto collectibles are a hype, but gaming has a bright future. I deeply think we will see use cases in digital art and genuine collectors items, there are already some projects like SuperRare, KnownOrigin, and many others, but it’s still a very tiny niche.
I think there will be way more serious use cases, like for legal documents or fractional ownership of real-world assets. 0xcert is working on something like that. Many projects have reached out to me to digitize and tokenize valuable real-world assets, like real estate or gold. So I really think fractional ownership will be a big thing.
What I am not sure about is, if there will be any secondary markets for these assets, like we do have for CryptoKitties and this kind of assets. Maybe for things like tokenized gold, but if the NFT represents your ID or degree, there will be no secondary markets.
So I guess in a few years, a large part of NFTs won’t be tradeable, just there to be stored on the blockchain.
On your website, you have “coming soon” tabs for premium and wallet. What can we expect from that?
Actually, when we started, we thought about transforming NonFungible.com into a marketplace. But we are not a marketplace and we don’t aim to become a marketplace.
In this tiny industry, there is already OpenSea and other marketplaces and they are really good at being a marketplace. So what we plan to do is to provide tools, features and value, complementary to NFT publishers and marketplaces.
One idea of our wallet is to calculate the value of your NFTs by matching your assets with actual market data and market prices. The other idea is a feature for notifications for assets that you are actively looking for and where you get notified if these become available. And hopefully one day we will be able to “auto-purchase” these assets for you, since we can even see the event before its on the marketplace, by monitoring the transactions of the smart contracts.
Where do you see NonFungible.com’s role in 3 years from now ?
I think we have a role to play in terms of legitimacy. We are not listing a ton of projects. I think it’s our responsibility to list valuable projects and to avoid scams. So if we identify projects that are a scam, we feel responsible to avoid the project or bring awareness to the community. Tokens which have the explicit goal of “making money” and increasing monetary value are a big red flag.
We also plan to build an API for companies and developers, because the data we have now is pretty raw and hard to analyze it. So we with an API it will be easier for others to plug our data into a business intelligence tool or some AI tool. I think this is gonna be valuable and useful for the community and there is a lot of demand for that.
In the end, we plan to become the CoinMarketCap and CoinDesk of NFTs.
You guys probably have the most comprehensive data set on NFTs. What are some data points that are impressive or especially interesting?
That’s quite hard, because there is a lot that impressive, but not really interesting. When I talk to people outside of the industry, I always talk about the market size of $250MM in just a year in terms of transaction volume. That sounds crazy, but it’s still very tiny, even compared to the rest of the crypto-currency space or other markets.
What is a really good metric, is the distribution of the active addresses across projects. In the beginning, it was something like 95% of all active addresses were only playing CryptoKitties, now it’s maybe something like 15% and the rest on other projects. This is a sign that the community is growing.
We are tracking three metrics, active addresses, transactions volume and USD traded. The transaction volume is hard to monitor because there is a lot of fake volume. We can identify it most of the time though.
We deeply think the growth of the ecosystem is not about figures or transaction volume, but actually about real use. We really see that there is a lot of disruptive approaches for gaming, with projects like Ember Sword, but also in art and so on. So the really interesting part is not the financial value of the asset, but what you can do with it, the real usage. And this is hard to understand, because you can’t track it if there are no or off-chain transactions.
We have this ongoing discussion about how to measure Dapp usage and that transaction volume might not be the right metrics as it can be easily manipulated. What is your take on this?
The notion is hard to define. Because a product can have a ton of users or just a dozen of hardcore users and can spend a ton of cash in your dapp. There are many ways to calculate it and look at it.
We thought about several KPIs. Of course the number of active addresses, which is pretty hard to fake, because you have to build lots of wallets and keep them active and so on. We haven’t seen anyone faking this yet.
Another interesting KPI is also the percentage of whales that are continuously active and don’t just trade, make money and abandon the project. For Decentraland, for instance, we identified the “flippers”, that just come to make money. So essentially we want to identify the players that are purchasing the assets and are actually waiting to play with them and not just buy them to resell them later.
How many active crypto gamers and collectors are there roughly at the moment? Measured by addresses.
I don’t have an updated figure, the last time I checked was in December last year and it was about 15 thousand. So I think it will be somewhere around 15 to 20 thousand. The biggest community is on MyCryptoHeroes and it’s about 5 thousand players they are mainly from Japan and other Asian countries.
What current projects and upcoming projects are you excited about?
I am extremely excited about Ember Sword. I have seen a playable demo and I have seen how it’s going to look and work with several confidential updates. They took the MMORPG idea and thought very deeply of what blockchain can add to the game. I think the people working on this are brilliant and that they are building what I think is the next generation of gaming.
What do you think is the timeline for NFT mass adoption? And what are the hurdles that we need to overcome?
I would love to know exactly when mass adoption will arrive. I think we will still have maybe 2 or 3 years before NFTs will get adopted. One of the key moments will be, when a company like Ubisoft,Christie’s, or Nike (https://cointelegraph.com/news/nike-files-trademark-application-in-the-us-for-cryptokicks)sees an opportunity in NFTs to enhance their business or create new business models. It might destroy some existing projects, but it will bring their huge community onto the blockchain and the NFT field.
I think we still have to test and build a better way to store NFTs, trade them and of course, solve scalability problems. There is still a lot of technical stuff to enhance and overcome.
Especially also in terms of the user experience. Buying an NFT is still extremely complicated. A project I love is Nifty Gateway, because you can buy your NFTs directly with your credit card. So in terms of UX we have many steps to go.
Also in terms of wording. We don’t have to talk about blockchain and we don’t have to talk about NFTs. These are technical terms. “Nifty” sounds cool, but I don’t think that will be the terminology used in months or years from now. I think some new term will appear over time, that’s more understandable.
Also, the mainstream doesn’t really care about this, people care about gaming, having fun or that your degree is being stored in a safe place. For the mainstream, you have to talk about the value that they get.
To wrap up, do you think the first NFT project to reach beyond the “crypto community” and get some kind of mass adoption will be using Ethereum as the asset layer or some other protocol?
In our 2018 report that we presented earlier this year at NFT.NYC, we analyzed all the standards of all the known protocols. It still seems that the Ethereum standards are the most mature.
So I think it will probably be on Ethereum, because the standards are there and the developer community is extremely active, which is an important point. I don’t have the feeling that this is the same on other blockchains.
All the other ones, like NEO and EOS are really at the beginning in terms of the standards and what we can do with NFTs and they still have a long way to go in proving their longevity and sustainability.