RMRK and The Future of Utility NFTs

The meteoric rise, and subsequent fall, of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) has been accompanied by the necessary debate of their intrinsic value. Amidst the hype and social commentary, mainstream adoption of the new asset class focuses primarily on the utility of an NFTs beyond  a market storage of value. This shift in the narrative of NFTs from expensive JPEGs to interportable digital assets will define the road to recovery of these investments and prefigure a future focused on utility. RMRK, a Swedish tech start-up,  is leading that paradigm.

RMRK is an NFT protocol built on the Kusama blockchain — a fast-paced multi-chain canary network for Polkadot. It aims to establish a standardized cross-chain NFT infrastructure while adding deeper functionality of externally liquid, nested, conditional, and compatible NFTs. Working on a lightweight set of standards, it allows custom interpretation of block graffiti, similar to Bitcoin colored coins, where its tools can interpret and present NFTs virtually. 

Offering a suite of products, RMRK shows the early extent of a utility-focused ecosystem through its marketplace Singular, metaverse Skybreach, $RMRK tokens, DeFi collateral, and governance projects. Unlike traditional ERC721 Tokens, they allow for highly-customizable protocols where users can interact with NFTs and layer them like “Art Legos.” This allows for a system of arbitrary complexity without using smart contracts while also enabling nested, multi-resourced, inherently governed, conditional, and externally liquid behaviors.

But what does this all really mean? A RMRK NFT can own an NFTs. Much like the assets in your home are tied to its respective physical structure, nested NFTs allow for digital assets to encompass its subsidiaries. Moreover, these legos allow flexible fungibility through conditional rendering and multi-resource backing. If you want assets to change over time, the resources behind them can programmatically adjust the IPFS-linked resource; thus, digital assets do not have to be absolute – allowing more interactivity for asset holders. Every NFT native to the ecosystem is automatically fractionalized and interportable, allowing for new opportunities like community and investor governed asset management.

These new functional layers allow for an plethora of new opportunities for new development. In the case of RMRK, these NFTs have captured the hearts of Kusama’s dedicated community, and there is a lot to be excited about its spectacular success. The initial collectible offering, Kanaria, netted RMRK over $6 million in NFT-crowdfunding and established itself as the first unofficial runtime environment on Polkadot/Kusama. The technology is positioned well in a burgeoning market as multi-chain ecosystems become more relevant, especially building around the hype of RMRKs introduction into parachain auctions

Additionally, RMRK has released RMRK tokens for governance, staking, and collateral. It is the first state mine fungible token to be available on Centralized Exchanges(CEXs), and the startup is currently working to launch on Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs) in the coming year. The RMRK token will also be essential as the currency of partnered Kusama metaverse projects as well as bridging other non-substrate chains through collateral support. The token was distributed in a fairdrop to NFT holders and is 89% held in the community. This makes it one of the most egalitarian token distributions to date, garnering massive support from its investment partners and users alike.

To put it clearly, RMRK has set a remarkable precedent for the future of utility-focused NFTs. The team is extending its RMRK 2.0 standard for adoption across all substrate-based ecosystems through powerful partnerships with Acala, Zeitgeist, Bit Country, and Khala. These additions will implement RMRK logic throughout metaverse, prediction markets, secret NFTs, and crowd loans. More importantly, they are currently working on fitting RMRK logic as smart contracts in Ethereum Virtual Machine chains like Polygon and Moonriver, promising extension to the Ethereum environment. Not only has RMRK  proven their worth with go-to-market in Kusama, but they continue to build new markets through strategic partnerships across chains and verticals.

RMRK is just one of the blazing protocols in a burgeoning space of composable NFTs. For example, growing ERC-721 or ERC-1155 nested NFT development including new players like The Charged Particles Protocol. Many NFT movers on Ethereum are working on natively unchaining NFTs to develop comparable ownership structures. The excitement around vertically integrated NFTs is untenable and now is an inflectional opportunity within the development.

The next evolution of digital assets will surely prevail, no matter how the market reacts. Now, we can replace the ownership structures of our metaphysical world through the use of composable and nested NFTs. These foundational tools for governable and layerable digital assets unlock the true possibilities of a decentralized future. Much like Ethereum to Bitcoin, RMRK and others are shaking up the NFT industry into advanced deep utility NFTs. 

About The Author

2022-23 Co-President | Harvard Technology Review.

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