Salesforce announced Wednesday that it has rolled out a closed pilot program for a new service called NFT Cloud, allowing users to mint and manage NFTs for brand engagement and marketing purposes, even as the wider crypto market continues to spiral.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are best understood as a method of fingerprinting a particular piece of art, code or almost anything else stored digitally, using the same fundamental blockchain technology as cryptocurrency to create a unique copy of that item. The idea is, since that item is uniquely identifiable, it becomes “non-fungible” and can hold a particular value in the marketplace, in the same way that a famous work of art has value that a reproduction does not.
Salesforce emphasized in its announcement that the NFT Cloud platform doesn’t support proof-of-work blockchains — the creation of many cryptocurrencies are based on the use of huge amounts of computing power, with commensurately large energy costs and carbon footprints, and Salesforce is likely looking to avoid the criticism that many have leveled at the cryptocurrency sector.
The company says that it will instead use proof-of-stake blockchain technology, which nearly eliminates energy consumption from blockchain use, and that the NFT Cloud will automatically calculate carbon emissions for blockchain options, thus allowing users to track their carbon footprint directly from the platform.
Salesforce also announced plans to address another common bugaboo of the crypto world — security. By using smart contract templates to ensure honest transactions and branded purchasing technology to protect against fraud, the company hopes to obviate the rash of hacking and fraud that has plagued NFTs and cryptocurrency over the past several years.
The crypto market has seen a lot of enterprise interest of late, but businesses looking to jump into the technology face a number of hurdles.
The complexities of asset ownership in the digital realm are likely to be unfamiiar to most organizations, creating new security risks that companies will have to navigate. Centralized platforms for the exchange of digital goods are likely to suffer from the same vulnerabilities as other ecommerce sites, and because of the nature of the blockchain, transactions aren’t easily reversible if a fraud is perpetrated. Moreover, scams to gain access to NFT and crypto wallets are commonplace, and some users might not be aware of the need to conduct in-depth testing on blockchain products earmarked for enterprise use. Meanwhile, the price of bitcoin, a leading cryptocurrency, has decline by more than 50% in the past seven months.
Salesforce didn’t announce a date for the pilot program going public, or any details of wider availability.
Jon Gold covers IoT and wireless networking for Network World.
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