How Biometrics Can Solve the Issues With NFTs by@sshshln

How Biometrics Can Solve the Issues With NFTs

Biometrics as a technology and a form of identification and access control based on the measurement and statistical analysis of human unique physical or behavioral characteristics can be used for everything from everyday life to yesterday's science fiction. And it’s no wonder it may grant an original solution to some main NFT technology demerits: authenticity and copyright protection, privacy, and usability issues.
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Sasha Shilina

PhD, an artist & a researcher by vocation interested in synergistic relationships between modern tech & culture.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) play a unique role in the blockchain landscape, and in 2021, they are certainly taking this space by storm. They've been big news ever since Beeple’s ‘Everydays’ $69.3 million sale hit the headlines, the CryptoPunks collections successfully auctioned on Christie's & Sotheby's and fetched millions, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first-ever tweet as an NFT for more about $3 million and Elon Musk tweeted the techno song about NFTs as an NFT.

In 2022, the most expensive art NFT with a price of about $92 million was the work ‘Merge’ by the pseudonymous digital artist named Pak. ​This year’s Venice Biennale is getting its first NFT art exhibition.​  Earlier this year Twitter launched NFT Profile Picture Verification. A few weeks ago Instagram introduced NFTs while Spotify makes plans to support them. These are just some notable examples.


And while some argue about the longevity of this phenomenon, and others are convinced that the hype is here to stay, the numbers speak for themselves. NFT sales reached nearly $18 billion in 2021, up from $82.5 million in 2020 — a jump of more than 200 times. Moreover, the demand remains at a consistently high level and continues to break records, and analysts predict that the global NFTs market will continue to accrue. It is expected to reach $21 billion this year.


So what makes NFT technology so attractive for content creators and collectors? Are there any drawbacks or pitfalls that need to be looked at and addressed?


So what makes NFT technology so attractive for content creators and collectors? Are there any drawbacks or pitfalls that need to be looked at and addressed?

Without further ado, let’s sketch the answers.

What is an NFT?

Adjective ‘non-fungible’ is usually used in economics to denote the possession of unique items and to describe things that cannot be replaced by others because they have a set of exceptional properties. A ‘token’ as a unit of account is a record in a distributed ledger that is controlled by a computer algorithm of a smart contract, in which the values of the balances on the accounts of token holders are recorded, making it possible to transfer them from one wallet to another.


The term non-fungible token (NFT) refers to a crypto asset that represents an intangible digital file, such as an image, audio, video, in-game collectible, and other creative products. Moreover, today, it seems like anything that is digital could be an NFT. Thus, they may be created, or ‘minted’ from the World Wide Web's source code (which was recently sold by its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, in the form of NFT for $5.4 million), to designer sneakers, real estate, a ticket to a festival (e.g. lifetime festival passes to Coachella), an item in the metaverse, or even genetic data.


All NFT data, including the information about their creators and owners, is recorded on the blockchain, which allows an NFT to be traded easily as a replacement for the digital item it represents. Specifically, NFTs are typically held on the Ethereum blockchain, although other major blockchain ecosystems support them as well.

NFT technology advantages

NFT technology provides content creators a unique opportunity to monetize their work. Due to this, they no longer have to depend on the creative industries middleman - artists no longer rely on galleries or auction houses to sell their art, musicians no longer are controlled by the major record labels, etc. Instead, content creators can sell their digital items directly to the audience in the form of NFTs, which also allows them to retain most of the profit. They can program royalties so that they receive a percentage of the sales whenever their work is sold to a new collector. This is a catching feature as artists generally do not receive future proceeds after the first sale of their creations.


In a nutshell, the main benefits of the NFT technology are as follows:


  • Unlike cryptocurrency, which requires all tokens to be identical, each NFT is unique or limited in quantity as well as not replaceable with similar tokens;
  • Ownership records are stored on the blockchain, every NFT has an owner and this is of public record - NFTs are flagships of decentralization, transparency & trust;
  • Due to advantages of the blockchain technology, content creators can claim royalties directly and receive secondary sales;
  • Content creators can access global markets, and easily reach the collectors and the community of like-minded artists;
  • Another NFTs advantage is availability, as anyone can create NFTs regardless of age, geographic location, etc. All that is required is the registration on the NFT platform of interest.

NFT technology flaws

Despite the apparent advantages of NFT solutions, it is difficult not to pay attention to several problems that formed in the industry alongside their rapid proliferation. Some known issues are:


  • Management from the government;
  • Storage ​issues;
  • Difficulty in finding the original owner of the NFT;
  • Difficulty in assessing the uniqueness and understanding how many copies exist;
  • Difficulty in determining the value of the NFT and their oversupply;
  • The risk of smart contracts;
  • Usability issues;
  • Energy consumption related to PoW blockchains.


Concerning NFT sales, authenticity and copyright protection issues are arising more and more often. When uploading content to open non-curated NFT platforms, never stop wondering that absolutely any media file can be sold on your behalf (no matter if it is a selfie taken a few seconds ago, a picture found on the Internet, or the masterpiece of a well-known artist). A case in point was the incident with an NFT drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which was put up for auction and then removed two days later after discovering that the sellers did not own it.


All these problems still exist, and researchers are puzzling over their solutions.

Biometrics as a solution

Biometrics as a technology and a form of identification and access control based on the measurement and statistical analysis of human unique physical or behavioral characteristics can be used for everything from everyday life to yesterday's science fiction. And it’s no wonder it may grant an original solution to some main NFT technology demerits: authenticity and copyright protection, privacy, and usability issues.


Traditionally, to solve the copyright problem, researchers distinguish three possible ways of proving the content creator’s identity:


  • Using something a content creator has, whether it is an identity document.
  • Utilizing something a content creator knows, like a secret phrase or a password.
  • Through what a content creator is, i.e. through biometrics, whether it is a face, a finger, etc.


Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than other methods, without saying that it is fast and easy to use.


Utilizing biometrics as one of its core technologies, Humanode creates the decentralized biometric identification layer that is not only used on the native Humanode platform but can be used in a variety of platforms and decentralized applications, including popular NFTs marketplaces and services. These biometric identifications ensure that the particular NFT is unique, authentic, or original and eliminate the copyright problem and authenticity issues.


It is known that the collection of biometric data raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information. The Humanode team is working on it. Besides biometrics and blockchain technologies in the broad sense, the project utilizes crypto-biometrics which is based on a stack of various disciplines and technologies such as cybersecurity, encryption, liveness detection, and zero-knowledge proofs. Once content creators or buyers log in to the Humanode, the 1 to n search and matching operation happens in an encrypted space, and because it is zero-knowledge based, the only piece of information that is searched for and is given out is if that user is a registered user or not.


Usability issues are also to be solved. Humanode biometric identifications are likely to be tied in as an option for user identification in the NFT platforms in form of a wallet’s browser extension or as a full-fledged app. They will provide a simple way to interact with blockchain-based services and offer the most user-friendly interface for the non-techy members of art communities. Furthermore, content creators and collectors will be able to stay pseudonymous while utilizing blockchain-based applications without the need of revealing their identity but only by proving they are real human beings. They will effortlessly access their wallets, mint and sell tokens, and sign transactions in the most accurate and secure way.


It is worth noting that many digital items are already placed in metaverses and in online collections of virtual worlds, which have lots of art galleries where users can buy crypto art and other collectibles in the form of NFTs. As the virtual reality space becomes more popular, displaying digital content in it becomes more common and exciting to the community. Due to Humanode technology, to enter metaverses, and to buy and sell NFTs there, artists and collectors will only need to scan their face, or other biometric modalities required in the future (after the network’s mainnet). The same can be said for video games, decentralized music and video streaming platforms, and other NFT-related services. All this greatly simplifies interaction with the NFT ecosystem for both content creators and collectors.


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by Sasha Shilina @sshshln.PhD, an artist & a researcher by vocation interested in synergistic relationships between modern tech & culture.
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