What Does NFT Mean? A Quick n’ Easy Definition…

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 03/08/22 •  5 min read

NFTs are all the rage these days with reports of teenagers making six-figure payouts from them. But what does NFT stand for? Let’s get that cleared up once and for all…


NFTs, in one form or another, have been around since about 2012. NFTs started life as colored coins inside the blockchain. These colored coins weren’t exactly popular, nor are they today, but they did start something that turned out to be massively popular, NFTs as we know them today.

What Does NFT Mean?

NFT stands for non-fungible token. The trick here, however, is to know what fungible means. In its simplest form, non-fungible means a unique digital asset. To be non-fungible, the asset has to be unique, meaning there is ONLY one of them, and it has to be stored on the blockchain with a unique token ID.

cryptokitties
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CryptoKitties – Dragon

If you have all of these things, you have yourself a non-fungible token. Most NFTs are run through the Ethereum blockchain. This blockchain, like the Bitcoin blockchain, runs on a ledger. Each individual token, either the cryptocurrency Ethereum or an NFT, has its own unique token ID that acts as proof of ownership.

If you buy an NFT or some Ethereum coins, their unique token is associated with your wallet and your wallet only. No one else can own these assets because you have the unique token ID associated with your wallet – this proves you are the proper owner of it. And with blockchains, your asset is very safe. The Ethereum blockchain is next to impossible to exploit or hack.

Are NFTs The Same As Cryptocurrency?

An NFT, like BTC or Ethereum, is just a set of digital codes with value added to it. You can never physically hold an NFT or Ethereum but you can sell them and convert the proceeds into cash.
This is why many investors are getting excited about NFTs. They view them in the same light as art collectors view auctions of famous paintings. Only in the context of NFTs, the artwork is digital assets created by people you have mostly never heard of before – although plenty of celebs have jumped on the NFT hype train to make some fast bucks.

You can buy and sell your NFTs using cryptocurrency like Ethereum or BTC but an NFT itself is not a cryptocurrency; it just works, lives, and is protected by the same technology that powers the Ethereum blockchain. Specifically, NFTs are handled by Ethereum’s ERC721 standard which was designed to track the ownership and movements of NFTs inside the Ethereum blockchain.

The Explosion of NFTs – Marketplaces, Infrastructure & Games

In and around 2018/19, NFTs really took off. Whatever momentum the concept had appeared to double or triple in magnitude, helped no end by extensive media coverage from major news sources like CNN, Fox, The Daily Mail, Coindesk, and The BBC. This cemented the idea or, at least, the reality of NFTs into the collective hive mind.

One of the most well-known and first ultra-popular NFTs was the CryptoKitties collection. This little project, the brainchild of Axiom Zen, launched in 2017 right when crypto was enjoying massive highs and it quickly became so popular that it began slowing down the Ethereum blockchain. And what exactly is CryptoKitties? It’s simple: you buy, breed, and trade digital cats as NFTs inside the blockchain.

Everydays NFT
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And while that might sound completely nuts to most people, Axiom Zen was so successful that it spawned a separate company, Dapper Labs, and managed to secure $15 million in funding from high-roller investors like Google and a16z. This obviously raised a few eyebrows and brought NFTs even more attention. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of NFT companies and projects grew considerably – there was plenty of money to be made.

As with anything you buy, you need or require a marketplace to frequent, browse, and eventually purchase your items from. With NFTs, this is no different. There are now loads of NFT Marketplaces where you can browse, buy, and compare NFTs. The biggest NFT marketplaces include OpenSea, OpenBazaar, Rare Bits, OPSKINS, and Auctionity.

Following on from the success of CryptoKitties, an entire universe of games and collectibles are now available as NFTs. These NFT games and collectibles are getting very popular too. You don’t get $15 million from Google for nothing, after all. To date, there are now more than 100 games and collectibles you can buy, sell, and trade inside the Ethereum blockchain. Some of the well-known ones are as follows:

And it’s not just weird collectibles that are popular either. Plenty of popular games now operate in the NFT marketplace too. And these types of NFT are even more popular than collectibles. As of right now, some of the most popular NFT games are Axie Infinity, Sorare, Evolution Land, Gods Unchained, and, of course, CryptoKitties.

Need to know more about NFTs? Check out our Ultimate Guide To NFTs: What They Are, How They Work & Why They’re Popular.

What Does NFT Mean
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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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