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Is It Time For Kenyan Brands & Businesses To Link NFTs To Their Offerings?

According to some fairly credible reports last year, Kenya has anywhere from 4M to 7M people who trade in cryptocurrencies. Those are big numbers suggesting over 10% of Kenya’s population, made up of mostly the youth, dabble in crypto. 

The massive uptake of crypto in Kenya has recently been largely driven by the weakening of the Kenya Shilling against international currencies whilst crypto has become a way of preserving wealth and acting as a digital asset that can be traded and liquidated easily whenever required.

It does not hurt that Kenya leads the world when it comes to our propensity for mobile money in the form of Safaricom’s M-Pesa. M-Pesa, if you think about it, acted as the perfect ‘on-ramp’ for millions of Kenyans to explore and adopt crypto at such a massive scale. 

Indeed, this trend has even caught the attention of KRA who are exploring how to tax crypto transactions in Kenya where possibly billions of shillings in transactional volumes are happening daily.

This, all brings me to the point of Non-Fungible Tokens or ‘NFTs’ as explored in this article. NFTs are assets that have been tokenized via a blockchain. Tokens are unique identification codes created from metadata via an encryption function. 

These tokens are then stored on a blockchain, while the assets themselves are stored in other places. The connection between the token and the asset is what makes them unique. NFTs can be traded and exchanged for money, cryptocurrencies, or other NFTs — it all depends on the value the market and owners have placed on them.

Like all new, bright, and shiny technology things, NFTs went through a stratospheric growth phase a few years ago before coming back down to Earth with a rather big thud in recent times, ala ‘crypto winter’. 

Many saw NFTs as a way of cashing in on a fast and easy way of making money through pure speculation. However, the underpinning opportunity for NFTs is that they exist on the blockchain and can be programmed to represent real-world products and services as well as digital assets.

Owning an NFT for the sake of speculation and ‘get rich quick’ schemes is more or less over. However, if a really good and credible artist creates amazing art that is sold as an NFT then it makes perfect sense it should be valuable. 

However, brands are also linking NFTs to loyalty programs for real-world products and services. Another use case for NFTs is to act as proof of authenticity for high-value offerings like luxury goods.

Put simply, an NFT can mean anything for digital assets as well as real-world products and services. This suggests that iconic brands in Kenya like Safaricom, Tusker, Kenya Airways, and others that have millions of customers could explore NFTs as a way of enabling delightful customer experiences and enhanced brand equity.

Safaricom, for instance, could make it possible for you to earn NFTs based on your Bonga points that can then be redeemed for unique digital and physical assets. Kenya Airways could reward you for your loyalty to their Asante Rewards program for exclusive perks made possible via NFTs. Java House could do the same with its loyalty program so that NFTs become a gateway to a members-only digital community. The possibilities are endless!

Going forward, it just means coming up with customer value propositions that transcend conventional thinking and tapping into the ‘peculiar’ affinity that Kenyans already have for digital assets like crypto and even M-Pesa spanning millions of users. Creativity and bold experiments will be needed and quite possibly, in the process of discovery, NFTs could become a significant game changer in Kenya too.

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