How do you make the purchase and/or sale of a non-fungible token (NFT) even more insufferable than it already is? Simple. You do what every tech field that’s run out of ideas does. Stick it in a vending machine.
There are many useful items to be found inside vending machines. There are also some less wholesome, perhaps even lewd, items inside some, but we don’t talk about those. Mostly, vending machines are a repository for snacks that definitely don’t count towards your caloric limit for the day. Provided nobody sees you using the machine, that is. But how does an NFT vending machine work?
NFTs’ Neon future?
The machine – there is only one for now – is owned and operated by a company called Neon. It lives outside a small store in Lower Manhattan in New York, because of course it does. Where else would you put it? And it combines the awfulness of buying NFTs with the randomness of purchasing Pokémon cards.
That is to say, you have no idea what you’re going to get until you’ve bought one. And what you get is a small cardboard box with a QR code inside. That’s it. That’s your NFT, which is either a colour or an image of a pigeon. It’ll range in ‘value’ from $6 to $420.69, the latter so buyers can be just like Meme Lord Elon (but with far less money).
It’s also a more or less perfect illustration of what NFTs are. You give someone money, and you get what is essentially a link in return. You can click it, admire it, perhaps even brag about it. But it’s still just a link that you own. Not the thing. The thing can be changed or made obsolete. But you own the link to it. At least for now.
Neon’s got ambitions for its NFT ATM, as the company calls it. The machine itself operates on the Solana blockchain, so you don’t have to feel too guilty about buying. And you also don’t need crypto to buy-in. Credit cards are accepted, so you needn’t earn a post-graduate degree before you’re allowed to spend your money poorly.
Neon CEO Kyle Zappitell, speaking to Reuters, said, “It’s the crypto curious, the people who tried to buy cryptocurrency or they were interested in buying an NFT, but they just hit too many barriers”.
“As a NFT collector, over time, one of the things you love is the randomness of, ‘Which one are you going to get? So that’s one of the exciting aspects.”
Neon has some $3 million that it hopes to use (plus income from the vending machine) to set up more NFT vending machines around the States. And tomorrow, the world! Or something like that. But how do buyers go from ‘QR code on paper’ to ‘I own this thing outright’. A crypto-based NFT startup has thought that far along, surely? Well, yes, more or less. Buyers sign up for Neon’s services, and redeem their NFTs there. And, provided nothing happens to the company, it’s their digital thingy to keep, forever and ever and ever…