Opinion: The NFT Craze on the Art Market

Intro

trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk
trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk shares her thoughts about the NFT-based art

Everyone and his dog have been talking and writing about NFT (non-fungible tokens) in the last couple of months. I don’t know where exactly this hype is currently coming from. NFT is not a new concept, it has been around for a couple of years already. 

Back in February 2019, I wrote an article about different use cases of blockchain technology in art, which also mentions a couple of older non-fungible token projects like Crypto Kitties or Rare Pepe Trading Cards, so-called digital collectibles. In October 2019 we even started our very own NFT project Value Manifesto together with the art historian Timo Niemeyer, mechanical engineer Matthias Frank and producer of Nixie Tubes Dalibor Farny.

So, nothing new under the sun. But suddenly everybody is talking about the NFTs and NFT-based art is being sold for tens of Millions of dollars. It looks like the concept of certification of art ownership on the blockchain is suddenly lightning-fast going mainstream. However, what currently happens in the art market, rather reminds me of the famous dot-com bubble at the end of the 1990s. Let’s have a closer look at the events of the past few months.

Read More
A close-up photo of a dollar note, representing the traditional financial system and its history

The History of the Financial System

Introduction

trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk
trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk looks into the history of centralized finance.

We all are used to living in the world of centralized banks and institutions that govern finance – also known as the old economy in the crypto and fintech scene. In fact, many people cannot imagine that the financial system could work differently. They simply take this existing system as the given and best option. 

But is this the case? Or are there good reasons why there is a need for new paradigms like the growing new area of decentralized finance? Let’s talk about some historical milestones in the development of the financial systems of the old economy, before examining its disadvantages.

The Old Economy: History, Status Quo and Risks

Money Makes the World Go Round

Let’s start at the very beginning and go through some basic concepts. The financial story of humankind starts with the invention of money.

Read More
A key on a keyboard with the infura symbol on it, representing the smart contract tutorial by trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk about migrating a parity-based smart contract into an infura-based one

Coding Smart Contracts -Tutorial Part III

Why Infura

Photo of Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement
Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement, explains how to develop Ethereum smart contracts.

Last year I published a tutorial helping you get started with the development of smart contracts and using them from java applications. In those tutorials, I’ve described how to use parity as the Ethereum client. Exactly this setup we’ve used also in our own project “Value Manifesto”. But a couple of weeks ago we’ve decided to switch the Ethereum client from parity to Infura. This gives me an opportunity to extend my tutorial with new information.

One of the reasons for changing the Ethereum client is as follows: maintaining your own Ethereum node can give you headaches. First of all, you need to keep your parity version up to date as it’s being continuously improved and adapted to the changes happening on the Ethereum blockchain. 

Read More

2019: The Year in Cryptocurrency

Natallia Martchouck looks back on the cryptocurrency developments of 2019

Another fintech year is over. Even a fintech decade. A lot of things happened last year and in good tradition, I’d like to look back at 2019. In this article, I’ll recap the highlights of the crypto scene from my point of view. It has been a year full of victories and drawbacks, as usual.

The beginning of the crypto year was quite turbulent.

The 51 Percent Attack

Bitcoin, father of the crypto industry and most prominent and popular cryptocurrency, started the year below the 4.000 USD mark, achieved a yearly high in July at approx. 12.000 USD and then fell back to 7.000 USD at the end of the year.

In the meantime, the start of the new year wasn’t much better for Ethereum Classic. The blockchain experienced a 51% attack. The attack began on January 5th, went on for three days, finally ending on January 8th with estimated losses of 1.1 million USD. The attack could be stopped due to the collaboration of blockchain analytics companies and exchanges, who halted the ETC transactions and provided data to the analytics companies. Even though the possibility of a 51% attack on a proof-of-work blockchain was known it was scary to see it becoming reality on a blockchain that ranks in the top 20 crypto assets list.

Read More

Coding Smart Contracts – Tutorial Part II

How to use a smart contract from a java application

Photo of Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement
Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement, explains how to develop Ethereum smart contracts.

In Part I of my tutorial I’ve explained how to develop and deploy a simple smart contract. Today we will see how this deployed contract can be used in java applications. 

We are going to use Parity as Ethereum client and Web3j java library for interaction with Parity. I’m assuming that you already have installed Web3j, solc and Parity following “Prepare” instructions in Part I.

5. Get Parity Synced

First of all your Parity needs to get synchronized with the Ethereum testnet Rinkeby, meaning it needs to download the current database status to your local machine. Start your local parity with 

$parity --chain rinkeby --rpcapi "eth,net,web3,personal"

See also this documentation of Parity about getting synced.

In the meantime, we can prepare everything that we need to call our smart contract from a java application.

Read More

Coding Smart Contracts – Tutorial Part I

How to Write, Deploy and Test a Smart Contract

Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement, the fintech enabler
Natallia Martchouk, co-founder of trimplement, explains how to develop Ethereum smart contracts.

In this article, I will give you a smart contract tutorial. It will tell you how to quickly write, test and deploy Ethereum smart contracts. My motivation is to help people to make the first steps. There are several good tutorials which helped me to get started. But I missed kind of a “cookbook recipe” for the entire journey, starting with the installation of tools and frameworks and ending with deployment to Ethereum and usage out of an application.

And so, I decided to write down all the steps involved and hope that you will find it helpful!

I’m working on a Mac, but I’ll provide links to the documentation of all tools and frameworks so that you’ll be able to find fitting instructions for your personal environment.

Today we will: 

  • Setup an environment that  allows you to write production-ready smart contracts
  • Write a simple smart contract
  • Test security and style guide issues with solhint
  • Write unit tests with a Truffle framework
  • Deploy the contract on the Rinkeby testnet using MetaMask and Remix
  • Execute calls on the deployed smart contract
Read More
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci, photographed and a Tourist photographing it with his smartphone, symbolizing digital transformation of art (i.e. with blockchain).

6 Art Projects Powered by Blockchain

At a first glance blockchain and art are polar opposites. But how do they say:  Opposites attract. Blockchain technology can help to solve many issues of the modern art market, for example:

  • It can help to securely and transparently track provenance, copyright and ownership information
  • It can provide frameworks for tokenization of real-world art objects, simplifying access to the art market and allowing “ordinary mortals” to become art investors and get partial ownership on expensive assets (see e.g. Maecenas project description below)
  • Blockchain and cryptography can be the art environment itself, meaning they can be used to create and store digital art objects (like Crypto-Kitties described below)
  • And of course, it can help artists to collect fundings for their art projects using the mechanisms of the so-called ICO (initial coin offering)

Let’s have a look at the most popular and interesting blockchain and art projects where creativity meets technology.

Read More