Anyone who has spent above marginal time on the internet in recent weeks has likely encountered a new term floating around tech spaces: NFT.
But what exactly is an NFT, and is the craze around the technology something travel brands should pay attention to?
Proof of travel
Recently, IoTeX introduced a new product that allows travelers to mint exclusive digital assets based on “proof of travel.”
Called Pebble Tracker, the hardware is able to capture and cryptographically sign real-world data such as location, climate, motion and light using a built-in secure element, similar to the ones used in smartphones for FaceID.
Once gathered, verifiable data from the Pebble Tracker is then assigned to a decentralized identity, which IoTeX describes as a “personal data locker,” which allows users of a device to own and control the verifiable data exclusively.
In April, IoTeX announced it has partnered with blockchain-based online travel agency Travala to explore using Pebble Tracker to record travelers’ journeys on the blockchain, fueling new use cases like decentralized travel logs, travel competitions and location-based NFTs via the aforementioned proof of travel.
Pebble Tracker can prove “in a tamper-proof way that you were at a certain place at a certain time,” Pang says.
“It’s basically an asset tracker that provides tamper-proof GPS readings and proves facts to the blockchain in order to generate a response.”
Someone visiting a museum, for example, could collect digital “badges” by visiting all the Spanish-style art in the museum, incentivizing them to complete a specific itinerary and rewarding them with proof of what they completed.
But what would be the incentive to collect these digital badges in the first place?
“NFTs are a lot about clout,” Pang says. While some people collect shot glasses and magnets from their trips, he believes the future is in having a digital wallet, something “you can show to other people and say, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve done.’”
The next foray for NFTs, he continues, is going to be around digital reputation. “It’s not just about ‘I have this.’ It’s more about ‘I’ve done this, I’ve visited this, I’ve experienced this.’”
With Travala, which in March partnered with Viator to make tours and activities bookable via cryptocurrency, IoTeX has discussed the possibility of creating different scavenger hunts – “kind of like a decentralized, Amazing Race-style thing” – where travelers could prove they completed a certain chain of activities.
“People trust the blockchain,” Pang says. “So having that level of trust – but also expanding that footprint of trust into the real world, not just in these digital currencies – in travel opens up a lot of interesting ideas.”
By completing certain activities, another scenario could be a traveler earning loyalty points or discounts for future flights. For destinations, DMOs could also work with local artists to offer limited-edition digital art for visiting small businesses.
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