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Gary V Doesn't Miss — Why NFTs Are Here To Stay – Forbes

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By Christos Makridis
NFTs are not dead, says Gary Vaynerchuk. They’re only resting. And will soon rise again.
Vaynerchuk is not an amateur at spotting trends. He was one of the first to realize that the internet could be harnessed to expand his family’s wine business. Next, he built one of the world’s first successful restaurant reservation software platforms, Resy. Today he is chairman of New York-based VaynerX, where he uses his unique insights in online and social marketing for his clients. Off the heels of VeeCon 2022, Vaynerchuk made bold prediction: that non-fungible tokens, otherwise known as NFTs, and decentralized blockchain technologies are part of the largest technological innovation the world has yet to see.
Since their value has plummeted over the past month, NFTs have been criticized by major news outlets as scams and speculative assets. However, at VeeCon 2022, the mood couldn’t be more different. At the crowded U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where VeeCon was held, nearly everyone seems to be an NFT enthusiast, including Vaynerchuk. “NFTs are really fun for collectability and art, but they are a tiny part of consumer blockchain,” Vaynerchuk told Zenger. “Eventually, we will all interact with NFTs because they will be our airline tickets, membership cards, and more.”
In other words, NFTs will evolve from price-swinging novelties to simple utilities used in every online transaction, Vaynerchuk said.
CEO & Co-Founder Vaynermedia Gary Vaynerchuk speaks at Nasdaq MarketSite during 2016 Advertising … [+] Week on September 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for 2016 Advertising Week New York)
Blockchain technology simply does the job better than traditional digital or physical approaches, said many speakers and guests at VeeCon 2022. “Right now, we’re using plastic QR codes and email confirmation codes for many things that the blockchain will eat up because it’s better technology, and that will just take some time,” said Vaynerchuk. While there is always a learning curve with any new technology, he said. “It’s just a matter of time and we should just focus on communicating.”
Take the non-profit sector. Blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionize it by creating a sustainable stream of income. “That we’re going to be able to auction off NFTs, and then that art, as it sells in perpetuity, will generate royalty payments that will go back to the charity,” said Vaynerchuk. In other words, an art museum could sell an NFT of one of its paintings and receive a stream of income for decades from a single transaction.
Such transparency and reliable payment is simply not available today. “It is inconceivable that in 15 years that there will not be an organization that doesn’t have NFT infrastructure integrated.”
Vaynerchuk’s evolution into a media personality began when he took over his father’s wine company, renamed it Wine Library, and rapidly expanded sales of wine bottles and cases through online marketing videos. It paid off. Wine Library grew from $3 million in 1996 to $60 million in 2001 in gross revenue. At a time when everyone was asking “Why would you not just go to the store to buy wine?” said Vaynerchuk, he saw a unique opportunity to for e-commerce at a time when the internet was just beginning.
Gary Vaynerchuk speaks during the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on November 10, 2016. Photo: Pedro … [+] Fiuza (Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Patterns repeat themselves. “I use history a lot,” said Vaynerchuk when commenting about the ability to reflect on and learn from the past. “When there is significant technology change, most human beings go on defense – they don’t like it… But a small group takes the complete opposite take,” he said, and these are the people who reap the greatest rewards.
Critics often misunderstand NFTs because they see the celebrity endorsements and assume its just another marketing play, like a new makeup offering or weight-loss tea line. What’s really fueling NFTs is more substantial but less hyped, Vaynerchuk said. “NFTs are valuable precisely because they allow us to credibly and transparently signal ownership,” he said.
You can take a picture of the Mona Lisa, but your digital picture does not carry the same weight as the original in the Louvre on display in Paris since 1797.
A tourist takes a picture of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting ” The Mona Lisa” at the Louvre museum on … [+] August 24, 2005 in Paris. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Of course, Gary Vee, as his fans call him, has his own line of NFTs. The original VeeFriends collection featured 10,255 NFTs and the second iteration featured 55,555 lower priced NFTs as of April 2022.
The future is always uncertain, but Gary Vaynerchuk’s commitment to creating value for his community has never been in question. That is in part what NFT holders buy when they are investing in VeeFriends – they are investing in Gary as a business leader and cultural icon. For now, NFTs seem to be a way of monetizing personalities. But if Vaynerchuk is right, they will soon become a medium of exchange and a store of value – like the coins in your pocket, that have faces on them, but real value in them.

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Starbucks details its blockchain-based loyalty platform and NFT community, Starbucks Odyssey – TechCrunch

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Starbucks is today officially introducing Starbucks Odyssey, launching later this year — the coffee chain’s first foray into building with web3 technology. The new experience combines the company’s successful Starbucks Rewards loyalty program with an NFT platform, allowing its customers to both earn and purchase digital assets that unlock exclusive experiences and rewards.
The company had earlier teased its web3 plans to investors, saying it believed this new experience would build on the current Starbucks Rewards model where customers today earn “stars” which can be exchanged for perks, like free drinks. It envisions Starbucks Odyssey as a way for its most loyal customers to earn a broader set of rewards while also building community.
To develop the project, Starbucks brought in Adam Brotman, the architect of its Mobile Order & Pay system and the Starbucks app, to help serve as a special advisor. Now the co-founder of Forum3, a web3 loyalty startup, Brotman’s team worked on Starbucks Odyssey alongside the Seattle coffee chain’s own marketing, loyalty and technology teams.
While Starbucks had been investigating blockchain technologies for a couple of years, it has only been involved in this particular project for around six months, Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer told TechCrunch. He says the company wanted to invest in this area, but not as a “stunt” side project, as many companies are doing. Rather, it wanted to find a way to use the technology to enhance its business and expand its existing loyalty program.
It opted to make NFTs the passes that allow access to this digital community, but it’s intentionally obscuring the nature of the technology underpinning the experience in order to bring in more consumers — including non-technical people — to the web3 platform.
“It happens to be built on blockchain and web3 technologies, but the customer — to be honest — may very well not even know that what they’re doing is interacting with blockchain technology. It’s just the enabler,” Brewer explains.
To engage with the Starbucks Odyssey experience, Starbucks Rewards members will log in to the web app using their existing loyalty program credentials.
Once there, they’ll be able to engage with various activities, which Starbucks called “journeys” — like playing interactive games or taking on challenges designed to deepen their knowledge of the Starbucks brand or coffee in general. As they complete these journeys, members can collect early digital collectibles in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Starbucks Odyssey, however, does away with the tech lingo and calls these NFT collectibles “journey stamps” instead.
Additionally, a set of limited-edition NFTs will be available to purchase in the Starbucks Odyessy web app, which also works on mobile devices. Though hosted on the Polygon blockchain, these NFTs will be bought using a credit or debit card — a crypto wallet is not required. The company believes this will make it easier for consumers to engage with the web3 experience by lowering the barrier to entry. It also won’t complicate consumers’ transactions with things like “gas fees,” preferring to offer a bundled price.
The company is not yet ready to share what its NFTs will cost or how many will be available at launch, saying these are decisions that are still being ironed out.
However, the various “stamps” (NFTs) will include a point value based on their rarity and can be bought or sold among Starbucks Odyessy members in the marketplace, with the ownership secured on the blockchain. The artwork on the NFTs is being co-created by Starbucks and outside artists, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition collectibles will be donated to support causes chosen by Starbucks employees and customers.
By collecting the stamps, members will gain points that can unlock exclusive benefits.
These perks go beyond those you can earn with a traditional Starbucks Rewards account and its “stars.” While today, members can earn things like free coffee, free food or select merchandise, the points earned in Starbucks Odyessy will translate into experiences and other benefits.

Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia. Image Credits: Starbucks(opens in a new window)
On the lower end, that could be a virtual espresso martini-making class or access to unique merchandise and artist collaborations. As you gain more points, you may earn invites to special events hosted at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, or even earn a trip to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica. It’s expected the very largest perks will be reserved for those who purchase NFTs, though lesser versions may be offered to those who earn their way up.
For instance, a paid NFT could offer the full travel package and farm tour, while an earned NFT could offer the tour alone with flights and hotels left up to the user. Starbucks hasn’t made any formal decisions on this front, however.
But what the company can say is that it wants to deeply integrate the program with its existing loyalty rewards, beyond simply using the same user account credentials for both programs.
Brewer says Starbucks is already imagining how some of the activities that earn NFTs will be connected to real-world Starbucks purchases, for instance.
In Odyssey, users earn NFTs by doing challenges, which might also include a real-world activity like “try three things on the espresso menu.” This would require the user to show their barcode at checkout — as they would if earning stars — to have their transaction counted toward the Starbuck Odyssey challenge. The company is still determining what mix of games, challenges and quests it will include at launch.
“But we’ll have experiences that do link directly to customers’ behavior in our stores,” Brewer stresses. Most importantly, the company wants to make gaining NFTs something anyone can do — not just those with money to blow on digital collectibles, as is often the case with current NFT communities, which price out the average user.
“There will be a lot of ways for people to earn [rewards] without having to spend a lot of money,” says Brewer. “We want to make this super easy and accessible. There will be plenty of everyday experiences customers can earn like virtual classes or access to limited edition merchandise, for instance. “The range of experiences will be quite vast and very accessible,” he adds.
Starbucks says it explored all the different blockchains for the project but landed on the “proof-of-stake” blockchain technology built by Polygon for this effort because it uses less energy than first-generation “proof-of-work” blockchains, which is more in line with its conversation goals.

Image Credits: Starbucks (opens in a new window)
The idea to enter into the world of web3 makes sense for a company known for taking advantage of emerging technologies and making them more approachable and easy for consumers to access. In years past, Starbucks introduced Wi-Fi in its stores to encourage customers to spend more time during visits. It also pushed the idea of mobile wallets long before Apple Pay became ubiquitous. And it made mobile ordering the norm well ahead of the COVID pandemic, when other restaurant chains picked it up.
But one criticism leveraged against many traditional businesses when they enter the web3 market is that they’re approaching it as a marketing stunt, not a real endeavor. Starbucks, of course, argues that’s not the case here — but only time will tell how serious its interest may be.
“We’re bullish on the future of these technologies enabling experiences that were not possible before,” Brewer claims. The intention is to be flexible and move with the customers as the web3 market changes, he explains. “It’s really important that we’re looking at it for the long-term,” he continues. “But, given that we’re plugging it into our industry-leading, massive scale rewards program — we’re committed,” he says.
The company says its web3 platform will open its waitlist (waitlist.starbucks.com) on September 12 and will launch later in the year. It will remove the waitlist and open the platform more broadly sometime next year.

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Tyler Hobbs' Fidenza NFT Project Gets $1M Pump Over 48 hours – CoinDesk

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DOJ Asks Congress for Tools to Limit NFT Money-Laundering Risk – PYMNTS.com

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Down at the very bottom of the crypto crime report the Justice Department issued last week was a request that could make it a lot harder to buy and sell NFTs.
Citing examples of criminals using the sale of the popular nonfungible tokens that hold art, video, music and collectibles to launder funds, the Justice Department asked Congress to define some of all NFTs as “value that substitutes for currency” under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
Doing so, it said in “The Role of Law Enforcement in Detecting, Investigating, and Prosecuting Criminal Activity Related to Digital Assets,” would “make clear that its key [anti-money-laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terror (CFT)] provisions — including the obligations to have customer identification programs and report suspicious transactions to regulators — apply to NFT platforms, including online auction houses and digital art galleries.”
See also: DOJ Seeks to Double Jail Time for Money Transmission Crimes
The impetus, the department said, is the “explosive growth in the demand and corresponding markets for NFTs, perhaps most notably in the area of digital art.”
Substantial Risk
This “presents substantial money-laundering risks,” it said, citing a February Treasury Department study on money laundering in the broader art market.
“NFTs can be used to conduct self-laundering, a sequence in which criminals purchase an NFT with illicit funds and then resell to a purchaser who pays for it with clean funds unconnected to a prior crime,” that report noted.
It also found that in most cases, “digital assets that are unique, rather than interchangeable, and that are used in practice as collectibles rather than as payment or investment instruments … are generally not considered to be virtual assets under [international regulations].”
The “nonfungible” part of NFT means that each is unique and cannot substitute for any other, as opposed to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin which all have the same uses and value.
NFT marketplaces “may take the view that this definition [of a ‘value that substitutes for currency’] does not apply to their activities — and that they are thus not subject to the BSA’s anti money-laundering and anti-terrorism laws, the department said.
Justice is asking Congress to amend the BSA “to make clear that its key AML/CFT provisions — including the obligations to have customer identification programs and report suspicious transactions to regulators — apply to NFT platforms, including online auction houses and digital art galleries.”
Already There
Redefining NFTs as “value that substitutes for currency” would allow the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (FinCEN) to “potentially seek to regulate such activity under its money transmission regime,” a trio of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom wrote in an April blog post.
That, according to Jamie Boucher, Eytan Fisch and Javier Urbina, would require NFT marketplaces to register as money services businesses (MSB) with FinCEN.
Some types of NFTs — notably those used to fractionalize tangible assets like physical artworks and real estate, but also other valuable art or collectible tokens — are likely securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said.
See more: How Did NFTs Become SEC’s Newest Crypto Target?
In FinCEN’s view, the trio noted, those can be repurposed to fit the definition of “value that substitutes for currency” and thus may already require MSB licenses.
 
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