Ishan Pandey: Hi Helen, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Binance NFT?
Helen Hai: I’m the head of Binance NFT and I also lead Binance Charity, the first-ever blockchain-enabled transparent donation platform. I'm a strong believer in the purpose of blockchain. I think charities create value outside the financial world, in real life. And NFTs are doing similar things. I think it’s going to be a great bridge, connecting the crypto world with the real world. That's something I'm so passionate about.
Last year, we launched an NFT for Good campaign, showcasing artwork from three different contemporary artists. Proceeds from sales went to charity projects supporting children in need worldwide—like our Charity’s flagship project Lunch for Children, which provides nutritious meals to different schools across Africa, and the Smile Angel Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting children born with clefts and their families. Another NFT for Good campaign we put together also helped raise money for Crypto Against COVID.
In terms of the story behind our platform; people have shown that they are at a stage where they are interested in migrating from the real world into a more digital world. And Binance is already playing an important role in the digital world, the blockchain world. We actually had several requests from the Binance users saying, “Why don't you do NFTs?”. So following this, we definitely wanted to offer the best service to our users, and the best platform with the largest variety of NFTs that is also very safe and secure. That’s why people come to Binance: your assets, your wallet, everything is going to be safe, the service is best.
Ishan Pandey: NFTs are becoming increasingly popular especially with YouTube now hinting at plausible NFT features. What is the future of NFTs according to you and Binance?
Helen Hai: Yes NFTs have become extremely popular - almost like a household name. We are also seeing people adding terms like GameFi, DeFi, Metaverse, and SocialFi into their everyday conversations, and new projects entering the scene as the Metaverse and DeFi continue to grow. I believe SocialFi and GameFi will lead DeFi 2.0, while NFTs will define ownership and drive more crypto adoption in 2022.
For NFTs in particular, I’m often asked this question; “What major use cases or trends will we see in the NFT space this year?” and I typically like to break it down into four key trends:
Trend 1: Mass Adoption. NFTs are an asset class and tool for engaging fans, art lovers, etc., and this will continue to grow in 2022. We estimate One Million Unique wallets have bought or currently hold NFTs. We also believe the NFT Avatar trend (PFP profile picture collections) will keep growing.
Trend 2: GameFi. Traditional free-to-play developers will jump on the blockchain, NFT, and Play-to-earn gaming bandwagon. Crypto-native developers won’t drive this genre anymore; instead, we expect big-name AAA developers and publishers to enter this space by year-end.
Trend 3: Disruption of traditional markets such as music, ticketing, entertainment, etc. This year, we’ll see more NFT models potentially disrupt the above industries. More specifically, industries will begin to adopt a smart contract-powered revenue model that involves all value chain constituents, from composers and artists to collectors and whales.
Trend 4: Dynamic NFTs that integrate into real-world events. While NFTs started as static images, 2022 will introduce real-world integrations like weather and stock data. Basically, any real-world data can flow into NFTs and impact the NFT itself.
Ishan Pandey: What are your views on GameFi and Play-2-Earn’s future in the digital economy?
Helen Hai: Despite being in existence since 2017, it was only recently that blockchain games broke into the mainstream. The appeal of blockchain games saw a significant increase due to the revolutionary play-to-earn (P2E) model. Within fun gameplay, you can now find a vibrant and lucrative economy.
The popularity of P2E games should not be surprising. Being rewarded for their time and effort, be it through native tokens or NFTs, is a huge incentive for gamers. Why would gamers spend their hard-earned money on purchasing a game and getting upgrades, if they could also earn money by simply switching to blockchain games? With the P2E model, the gamers own the in-game assets and they are involved in the gameplay in a way that was never seen before.
In the past years, blockchain games were hindered from reaching their full potential due to congestion and lackluster gameplay. Such concerns do not hold true anymore. Networks like the Binance Smart Chain are capable of facilitating fast transactions. Meanwhile, investments flowing into this space have led to enhancements in the gaming interface and features of blockchain games. Now, blockchain games offer an enjoyable experience for gamers with the added benefit of financial rewards. For many, blockchain games are also a fun, engaging way to venture into the crypto world for the very first time.
Ishan Pandey: Please tell us a little bit about Binance NFT and the vision behind the platform?
Helen Hai: The core vision behind our platform is to make NFTs easy, fun, and rewarding for everyone to participate. There’s a great opportunity now for anyone interested in NFTs to start getting involved themselves. For a long time, it’s been challenging to choose the right platform or marketplace to use. The whole ecosystem is fragmented and can be challenging to navigate for beginners. With Binance NFT Marketplace, it’s much simpler for creatives and collectors to stick with a trusted and well-known player in the crypto scene. In order to make the NFTs more accessible to users and creators, we charge the lowest transaction fee in the market (1%).
Our platform is the world’s largest curated NFT marketplace. The platform brings together content creators, world-famous artists, game developers, crypto enthusiasts from around the world, and much more, and is the premier destination for NFTs and digital collectibles across mediums, from visual arts and gaming to music and sports.
Further, our was launched for the community, and we will continue to build for the community. We always look to improve the experience for our users through new features that enhance interaction and exposure for collectors and creators.
We will work closely with budding and renowned NFT projects, creators, and partners to further build the NFT ecosystem and welcome more users to the ever-expanding metaverse. Since June 2021, we have engaged with many artists, brands, IPs, and creators in all manners of crypto sophistication, popularity, and genres, to offer users a wide variety of NFTs across many interest categories, and to get access to some of the hottest NFT drops on the market. Beyond just creating another NFT marketplace, the experience you’ll get through our platform is bigger than buying, selling, and trading. It’s an immersive experience where everyone can come together under one digital space, from traders and collectors to gamers and creators alike.
Ishan Pandey: What are your views on the Metaverse as an economy?
Helen Hai: The buzzword that has definitely dominated headlines in the tech industry is ‘Metaverse’. Companies, developers, and users are rushing to stake their claim on the Metaverse industry which has the potential to be worth a trillion dollars in the future. This is far from an overestimation. After all, a property on the Metaverse sold for a record-breaking $4.3 million in November.
At the moment, much of the Metaverse remains a vision. Yet, it is easy to see that NFTs and gaming will be core components. NFTs, gaming, and the Metaverse are closely intertwined. As the world’s largest centralized NFT gaming marketplace, our platform has cemented itself as an industry leader in this space. We have successfully onboarded over 60 gaming projects and sold over 1 million gaming NFTs since June 2021. We have also launched the first-ever Initial Game Offering (IGO) in October 2021. This is part of our platform’s vision to build a home for NFT gaming and pioneer the move towards the Gaming Metaverse. Since the launch, all IGO drops (over six) were all sold out and performed extremely well in the secondary market. Most projects achieved over 10 million in trading volume within three days.
Ishan Pandey: What does the roadmap ahead look like for Binance NFT and the blockchain industry?
Helen Hai: Going forward I think that it is important to grow and develop the marketplace pertaining to our platform, with regards to offering high quality and diverse range of NFT projects with our rigorous screening mechanism, while optimizing the NFT trading experience with new and different features, as well as further multichain support.
We’ve added the NFT deposit and withdrawal feature to support more types of projects both from ETH and BSC networks. Recently, we have been working alongside the Binance Smart Chain team to set the BSC NFT Metadata Standards for the BSC ecosystem, so that we can seamlessly integrate with NFT projects who adopt this common unified standard. We will continue to explore and build up the infrastructure by supporting more blockchains, extending to more collaboration with on-chain decentralized marketplaces, and shaping the NFT industry through more exciting partnerships with big brands. All of this is to meet the needs of our users.
Services such as the Mini Applications to optimize the mobile experience for NFT trading, NFT staking to increase the utility of NFTs, and NFT launchpad is all under development. We hope that we can lower the threshold for new users to enter the NFT industry and build the infrastructure of the NFT ecosystem with the whole industry.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence, asking the right questions, and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions.