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The Interview: Utility NFTs as "Digital Merch"

How one company is working to bring NFTs to the masses, one fanbase at a time.

The utility era of NFTs has only just begun, but many in the space believe mainstream adoption is close at hand. One innovator excited by NFTs' current and near-term potential is Mark Elenowitz, co-Founder of Horizon & Upstream, who spoke with Roundtable's Rob Nelson at BattleFin in Miami. In a wide-ranging interview, Elenowitz discussed broad industry trends and how his company works with sports figures and other celebrities to grow and reward their fanbases with NFTs. In this segment, he discusses the vision of Horizon & Upstream and how he sees the space maturing in the coming years.   

Elenowitz contrasts the young era of utility with a first wave of NFTs associated with digital art and investing. 

"NFT 1.0, the first generation of NFTs, was supposed to be a proof-of-concept of proof-of-ownership," he says. "What ended up happening is that the world adopted it as this new form of art—which became [a] new form of stock trading. And that's something that's still happening. But we look at [how] the rest of the world sees NFTs, the 99 percent that has no understanding of Metamask or Eth[ereum], but just wants to connect." 

He continued, "They want to connect with a brand. They want to connect with their celebrity. They want to connect with their favorite group and be able to do it in a seamless way. We like to use the term 'digital merch.'"

This is merch with a strong utility function, however. To explain, Elenowitz uses the example of a concert ticket.

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"The NFT itself is the ticket, but then you leave the concert, you go home, you share it, show everybody what you have," he says. "You were there, you were at that 25th anniversary tour. You were at the final tour, whatever it might be."

"Step two is the NFT actually has utility function. Maybe the NFT gives you access to a VIP section, or a meet-and-greet [where] you go backstage and actually meet your favorite artist. Some of the artists that we work with are willing to really do some crazy things, like, 'Come back, get high with me, have some alcohol, have some fun. Let's do shots let's party.' And as a fan, that's incredible." 

Watch the full discussion below:

Roundtable Guests:

Mark Elenowitz, Co-Founder, Horizon & Upstream