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Is the sale of non-fungible tokens like Beeple's Everydays: The First 5,000 Days for millions of pounds just a fad or the start of a new age in collectables?

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Garry Moore, the managing director of Bishop's Stortford-based Genmar IT, writes for the Indie...

Last month a piece of artwork sold for £50 million. Not an old master or a diamond-encrusted skull, in fact not even physical, but a piece of digital art. In the same mould as Bitcoin becoming the new currency, NFTs are poised to become the new collectables.

NFT stands for non-fungible token. A fungible asset is something that can be readily interchanged, like money. You can swap two tenners for a 20 and still have the same value. However, if something is non-fungible it is unique, like a painting. You can take a photo, but there can only be one original. As an NFT is purely digital and without form, their originality is certified by a token.

Everydays: The First 5,000 Days by Beeple. Picture: Beeple/Christie's
Everydays: The First 5,000 Days by Beeple. Picture: Beeple/Christie's

The £50 million digital artwork is a collage of 5,000 separate images. Mike Winkelmann (AKA the digital artist Beeple) posted a new piece of work every day from May 2007. Entitled Everydays: The First 5,000 Days, it was offered for sale at auction by Christie's making it its first sale of a digital artwork and the first time it accepted cryptocurrency in payment, in this case Ethereum. Visit https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/first-open-beeple/beeple-b-1981-1/112924 to take a look.

Is this a fad or is this the start of a new age in collectables? Who knows, but the founder of Twitter has just sold his very first tweet for $2.5m and musician Grimes sold some of her digital art for more than $500,000.

Big Brother or better business?

The enforced working from home over the last year has been a mixed bag. Many businesses that were able to and had the right IT in place have been pleasantly surprised with the benefits of staff working from home and are now offering it as an option to staff as we move out of lockdown, including Genmar.

As with any new working practice there are concerns from both staff and business owners, not least how to monitor staff productivity without damaging trust and morale. These concerns have been fuelled recently with the news that French firm Teleperformance's software, TP Observer, may be breaching personal privacy. The software incorporates AI and webcams to monitor and track real-time behaviour noting any violations of pre-agreed "business rules", such as desk clutter and use of mobile phones, and notifying managers.

Currently being rolled out in more than 30 countries, it is almost certainly illegal in the UK and other countries with more advanced privacy rights. It is easy to see how staff may see this as an intrusion and show a lack of trust on the part of the employer, but there are other less intrusive options available.

By using our industry software already in place, in conjunction with features on our VOIP phones, we are able to monitor staff performance. In our case, this has proved that staff are actually more productive than working full time from the office and has led to us agreeing a rota working from home and office.

Not only has this improved morale but makes us more attractive in terms of recruitment. Introducing this in conjunction with staff has negated any Big Brother concerns – in fact, sharing some of the productivity data means an element of competition has evolved.

This service is now being adopted by a number of our long-term customers. If you wish to find out more about how it may work for your business please give us a call on 0330 445 1234 or visit genmar.co.uk.

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