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‘It’s the Technology Behind NFTs We’re Really Interested in,’ Banker Says

TheGrill 2022: ”Because right now, the ecosystem is very archaic,“ City National Bank VP Attila Csutak says

As the market for NFTs has cratered, experts across the industry convened at TheWrap’s annual business conference, TheGrill, to discuss where the NFT is going next.

“It is truly a key,” Sarah Early, an entertainment and culture marketing agent at UTA, told panel moderator and TheWrap’s “Tech vs Media” podcast host, Richard Wolpert, during the panel Wednesday.

Early continued, “So moving away from collectibles I really think of it as the entrance point for future utility to accessing the community, to really entering these new areas, maybe universal ID one day in the future, but really, that key that unlocks everything to come.”

The panel — titled “Revolutionizing the Future of Entertainment With NFTs, which was presented by City National Bank — moved on to definitions of NFTs (units of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable).

“I think about it as a digital good that actually will provide the foundation for true monetization in the internet,” Melody Hildebrandt, the chief information security offer at Fox and president of Blockchain Creative Labs said. “Like the sense of property rights that can exist in an online sense that I think can facilitate what the new model of what a new Internet should be and help with the right monetization framework to appropriately be able to have both creators and communities be able to monetize and own things in a real way.”

Attila Csutak, VP of faster payments at City National Bank, rounded out responses by introducing the topic of NFTs’ function in the larger world of “emerging payments.”

“It’s the technology behind it that we are really interested in,” said Csutak. “How can we put existing payment ecosystems in to place them into that environment? Because right now, the ecosystem is very archaic. We have a lot of a lot of different models that we have to deal with. We are trying to simplify, we are trying to make it more seamless, more easy to use for everyone and to end the spectrum that normally starts with the retail side but then it transitions over into the commercial side.”

Wolpert then addressed the crypto-winter taking place, in which some NFTs have lost over 90% of their value. He also mentioned that many young people feel they’ve been ripped off by NFTs. Each panelist described their reasoning for continued investment in these technological tickets.

Early explained why she feels this concept is more than just a cash grab, and Hildebrandt emphasized that ownership of an NFT stands out from ownership of physical property or other digital assets because they aren’t “infinitely replicable,” nor are they “valued at zero because anyone could right click save it, or it wasn’t because you uploaded it to YouTube and you’ve lost your ownership.”

Both Early and Hildebrandt expressed confidence in moving through the “first wave” of NFTs, grounded in the idea that the concept has been proved to various audiences as something lucrative and accessible.

“It progressed so much in the last five years, but I hope it’s going to continue on that same path so we can adopt this technology and use it for the benefits of the customers that we serve and us as a bank because it takes a lot to monitor and to enter the transaction,” Csutak said. “We have this check-printing dispersement collection model embedded in our DNA. We want to simplify that, we want to transition everyone, consumers and commercial customers, away from that model to the digital model. No one wants to touch anything to begin with — the pandemic absolutely sped that up. Whether that’s checks or cards, you don’t want to touch it anymore. So we want to be upfront there where we introduce these new emerging payments.”

The panel also revealed tangible and more practical examples of NFTs — like a sweatshirt embedded with an NFT to get fans of Vérité into concerts with purchase — and questions and concerns about average consumers getting involved in the market as well as environmental impacts of NFT.

Watch highlights from the panel above.

About TheGrill

For over a decade, WrapPRO’s Grill event series has led the conversation on the convergence between entertainment, media and technology, bringing together newsmakers to debate the challenges and opportunities facing content in the digital age. Tailored to a C-suite and innovative, forward thinking attendees, the event delivers a unique series of curated discussions, industry panels and virtual networking activations that explore the ever-changing media landscape. For more information about TheGrill visit thegrill.thewrap.com.

TheGrill 2022 sponsors include Loeb & Loeb, City National Bank, Gracenote, Warner Bros. Discovery, Gerber Kawasaki, Sony Pictures, Take-Two Interactive, SAG-AFTRA, New York Festivals, Samba TV and IMAX.