NFT (Non-Fungible Token) have become the latest rage globally. NFTs are digital assets that serves as a secure record of ownership for an item or collection of items, stored on select blockchain. Zilliqa is a public blockchain platform best known for its early implementation of sharding, a scaling solution that breaks transaction validating nodes in blockchain networks into smaller components or “shards” and has gained immense popularity in the sports realm post its partnership with Polaris Sport. The Playknox spoke with Amrit Kumar, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Zilliqa to know more.
Tell us about Zilliqa. What prompted you to start the brand?
Founded in 2017 by a team of academics, entrepreneurs, and engineers, Zilliqa was born out of peer-reviewed academic research that was conducted at the National University of Singapore. At that time, the nascent blockchain industry still faced significant structural challenges seen across legacy blockchains — transactions were either processed too slowly or compromised on security for speed and scalability. This prompted one of our co-founders, Prateek Saxena, to co-write a research paper that explored sharding — a proposed solution to address this scalability problem while simultaneously preserving high standards of security.
Upon our main launch in January 2019, Zilliqa became the world’s first public blockchain built on sharded architecture. Providing secure, scalable, and affordable blockchain solutions for enterprises and decentralised applications, Zilliqa has grown into one of the most prominent names within the global blockchain ecosystem.
Tell us about your latest venture into the sports realm. Why is sports such an attractive vertical for your brand?
Zilliqa has always been a big believer in the strength of a community. Similarly, the fans and a sense of community is what drives sports. It was precisely this common thread that made the sports vertical such an appealing space for us as well.
The need to digitalise in today’s environment where the majority of the global population is still unable to congregate was also a key factor in our decision to venture into the sports realm. With many fans shut out of the stadium experience, we wanted to take the opportunity to bring the sports to them. In a way, NFTs can serve as the bridge between fans and athletes, effectively bolstering fan engagement and bringing fans a step closer to their favourite athletes or clubs.
Earlier this month, we recently partnered with leading athlete commercial rights representation firm Polaris Sports where we worked together to create and release exclusive NFTs for 10 global football champions. Through this partnership with Polaris, this co-created NFT collection will bring some of football’s leading talents greater autonomy and monetisation opportunities for their own personal brands.
Expand on your partnership with Polaris.
Through our partnership with Polaris, we co-created an NFT collection of a scope and quality never-seen-before. In fact, video productions for the NFT took place across Italy, Portugal and Singapore with on-location footage shot with the 10 football athletes across the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Portugal, and Turkey.
The co-created NFTs are now available for purchase on Zilliqa’s NFT marketplace comprising:
- Former Chelsea and Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa;
- Everton F.C and Colombia national team midfielder James Rodríguez;
- Porto team captain and Portugal national team centre-back Pepe;
- Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas;
- Galatasaray forward and Colombia national team captain Radamel “El Tigre” Falcao;
- Liverpool F.C. and Portugal national team forward Diogo Jota;
- Atlético Madrid and Portugal national team forward João Félix;
- Wolverhampton Wanderers and Mexico national team forward Raúl Jiménez;
- Lille and Portugal national team midfielder Renato Sanches; and
- Manchester City F.C. and Portugal national team centre-back Rúben Dias.
The series will also include a SUPERPACK, a single collectible featuring all 10 football stars with additional specially autographed digital card NFTs. In addition to the NFTs themselves, purchasers also have the potential to receive additional perks including signed jerseys, autographed boots or gloves, or even a meet and greet with three players, depending on whether they purchase the Individual Player Pack or SUPERPACK.
Is NFT/Cryptocurrency the next rage? If so, why do you think more people should tap into this?
From the record-breaking sale of Beeple’s artwork for US$2.2 million to the popularity of NBA Top Shot, NFTs have certainly been propelled into mainstream consciousness in the past few months. In fact, the Google search volume for the term “NFT” reached an all-time high in early March, with sports collectibles reaching an all-time sales volume of $53,646,574. The demand for NFTs certainly speaks for itself.
More importantly, going beyond the hype, NFTs offers some very promising value propositions:
- An alternative revenue stream: NFTs allow you to take control of your own brand by eliminating the need for a middleman. In this way, you are able to monetise your work independently and gain ownership of your personal brand.
- Security: The blockchain technology underpinning NFTs can ensure that transactions are securely recorded on a distributed ledger that is only accessible via one’s private key which only the owner has access to.
- Intellectual property and copyright protection: Whether it’s arts, music, literature, or even luxury, copyright issues have traditionally been a cause for concern. However, NFTs can help address these concerns. While NFTs are not necessarily always the physical item itself, they serve as a proof of ownership, verifying that the item you own is authentic. Combined with the fact that NFTs are unique digital tokens, this means that the token cannot be interchanged with anyone or anything else, which can go a long way in preventing forgery and allow for better IP protection.
What is your marketing and branding strategy?
When it comes to NFTs, brand partnerships are a key focus in our marketing and branding strategy here at Zilliqa. We feel that working with mainstream brands across different verticals will help take this technology to greater heights.
As part of our strategy, we are also expanding into providing bespoke services to cater for another segment of the population — one that would prefer a greater level of customisation across a specific vertical. For instance, in the case of Polaris, our recently launched custom whitelabel marketplace has been designed to enable direct, transparent, secure, and convenient purchases of the players’ exclusive and authenticated digital collectibles.