Something as simple as buying a beer from one of the breweries in Colombia could soon get people familiar with the new digital economy.
By the end of the year Columbia Craft Brewing Co. intends to announce its first release of a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which will allow beer drinkers and consumers in general to own digital assets that will also grant them access. according to Andrew Strauss, brewery co-owner and director of business development, to a distinct customer experience at a downtown brewery.
Strauss and those working with him on the project understand that there is a steep learning curve for many people with this new project, but they are up to the challenge.
Simply put, NFTs are unique digital assets based on blockchain technology that cannot be replaced or exchanged due to their distinctive properties. They are called non-fungible tokens because, unlike fungible or fungible items such as physical or cryptocurrencies, NFTs cannot be exchanged. Once purchased, they belong exclusively to the owner.
Ownership of an NFT can be verified through the blockchain, which is a decentralized and secure ledger on the internet.
So far, most NFTs have included digital art, music, or games, but the medium is increasingly used in the business world.
Columbia recently made headlines in the NFT world in October when a three-bedroom home was sold to a real estate investor for $175,000 in NFTs, according to an article in Newsweek. This was the second US real estate transaction using the technology, the first being a Florida home sold earlier this year.
Many realtors and other netizens were confused or angered by the Columbia NFT home sale, claiming it was invalid because no physical deed was signed. Others, however, say the sale represents a new future for real assets and could eventually eliminate much of the paperwork and time involved in selling property such as real estate and cars.
Strauss hopes the brewery’s new NFT venture will help get rid of the “great unknown” factor that many people face when talking about new technology.
“We know NFTs have a bad rap because of some of the experience people have had with them, but our idea is to give NFTs real value so that you get something along with your ownership,” Strauss said.
Strauss understands that many people may not know what NFT or blockchain is, so he plans to create materials available online and in the brewery to help customers learn about the program.
“We want to create a roadmap, a diagram that will show them exactly how to get involved,” he said.
Strauss has been involved in the metaverse, the world of the digital economy, since around 2007 and admits he has had both good and bad experiences with cryptocurrencies and other parts of the platform.
His interest in it peaked a few years ago when he met Colombian Chris Thiebaud, CEO of Merkle Root, a Colombian software firm that specializes in games and other blockchain-based digital products. Thibault is working with Strauss to develop and design NFTs.
Columbia Craft’s NFT collection will initially include approximately 150-175 unique NFTs, representing the majority of the beers the company has produced since opening in November 2016. All NFTs will not be available at the same time, but will be sold in groups of five. or 10 in auction format.
According to Strauss, the NFT projects will link directly to the “magnet” system already in place at Columbia’s main tavern at 520 Green Street. Each draft beer is represented by a magnet with beer name, alcohol content, creative color and image. Magnets are placed on a magnetic board to illustrate to customers what is being poured at the moment. When a draft beer is bottled, this magnet is replaced by another draft beer.
The design of the NFT will reflect the design or logo used for each beer on the magnet in the tavern.
Strauss said individual NFTs will be made available to consumers of legal age, who can purchase a limited number of them through the company’s website, with a credit card, or through a cryptocurrency account using Ethereum or Bitcoin.
Each NFT purchased by a customer will come with a set of special discounts and benefits through Columbia Craft, Strauss said. The specific perks associated with each NFT are still being developed.
Columbia Craft isn’t the only brewery currently using NFTs to enhance its brand, and Strauss said his company’s larger launch goal is to eventually create a common platform and app that any brewery can use to release their own specific NFTs. associated with their brands.
“Products like NFT and blockchain need to be looked at right now as a new tool, something like an industrial revolution, not only for breweries but for other businesses as well,” Strauss said. “It will take time for such things to be accepted. What NFTs can do is help breweries like Columbia Craft increase their brand awareness as well as generate an additional source of income.
“It will also allow our customers to dive into this new technology space, get involved in a new venture and get some added value.”
Contact Christina Lee Knauss at 803-753-4327.