OR: My (painful) journey to my first NFT
As you know I love technology and I’m always curious about finding out what you can do with it.
Approximately half a year ago I started to become interested in NFTs – as most of us since it just started to get really hyped. So I started to take one of my old .gif and tried to offer it via opensea.io until I discovered it would cost me ~100 EUR to mint (enlist it). So I stopped. Until last week.
But first – What is a NFT
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are the digital version of something that has been around forever – non-fungible things 😉 They are unique pieces of whatever you can imagine and even a .jpg. What makes them special is that they are non-transferable. You are not able to exchange them for something equivalent.
You can exchange the exact same Nike Air Jordan 1 in size 43 for another exact same Nike Air Jordan 1. But you can’t do this with an NFT because they are supposed to be uniquely attached with a sentimental value. Like the Air Jordan it represents a piece of who you are and therefore they are a big part of our life. So merging from an analog world into the digital metaverse we assign more and more digital assets around us. In the beginning, we just download, copy and paste them via torrents and or peer-to-peer platforms – the famous relationship between property and sense of belonging.
So how do they work?
As Wikipedia states it more technically an NFT „is a unique and non-interchangeable datum stored on a digital ledger. NFTs can be used to represent easily reproducible items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files as unique items (analogous to a certificate of authenticity), and use blockchain technology to establish a verified and public proof of ownership. Copies of the original file are not restricted to the owner of the NFT, and can be copied and shared like any file. The lack of interchangeability distinguishes NFTs from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.“
Since blockchains are public, decentralized databases that record transactions and proofs of ownership you can store your certificate of ownership there. So no single entity has the authority to add or alter this datum as know of a single database stored somewhere locally. So the whole community is updating it and since everyone can participate the blockchain takes care of authentication and encryption of this data.
So if you transfer an item, related to that chain you add your credential to the certificate and everybody else sees that that datum has changed owners and everybody can see its whole history.
Let us put some flesh on the bone
So how did I get there?
I’ve seen a quire interesting campaign from WWF about NFA (non-fungible animals) and thought I should deep dive there again. And this time I had a „real“ incentive: buying a NFA would actually help them in the physical world to add some funds to help endangered species.
„Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, are revolutionizing the art market right now. They enable unique virtual collectibles that cannot be replaced or copied. To raise awareness and funds for the conservation of ten endangered species, WWF created Non-Fungible Animals, or NFAs, a highly limited number of crypto artworks. Learn more in our film.“
The „easy“ process 😉 Just three steps to becoming an NFT owner.
- Install a wallet
- Add crypto
- Buy the NFA.
Since I haven’t had a wallet by then I started with the recommended TORUS wallet which has easy access and within seconds you are in your dashboard.
The second step turned out to be rather difficult. TORUS offers you to purchase USDC (a stable coin) via moonpay (an exchange). They offer you to exchange into USDC via credit card – sounds convenient. So I started the process and tried it over the weekend a couple of times with various credit cards, something with and sometimes without ID verification and such and I always ended up with „Verifying your transaction“. Every attempt ended in „We’re sorry, but your request to purchase […] has been declined.“ Sometimes right after starting the process and sometimes after 12+ hours. This is how I mainly spent my weekend. Trying and waiting.
So on Sunday afternoon, I started thinking of alternatives. So rather than using the TORUS interface to onramp (Fiat money to crypto), I tried the moonpay site directly. But I couldn’t see USDC based on polygon (this is needed for the transaction – not the usual USDC on the main etherium network).
Since most of those projects use discord as their communication channel so does the WWF-NFA-project. So I hooked onto the network to get some help and experienced a super friendly community.
They told me that I shall simply select it on the website – apparently, I didn’t know by then that Safari browser didn’t show it correctly so it took me a while to figure out switching to another browser (Chrome) makes me see everything and especially the USDC (on polygon).
The process stayed the same. „We’re sorry, but your request to purchase […] has been declined.“ (the worst exchange experience I ever encountered).
So I called a friend and asked about her approach which helped me with the next steps:
Instead of TORUS I added MetaMask extension (wallet) to Chrome. I secured this wallet and now I needed the funds to purchase it.
So I tried with binance (an exchange) just to figure out that they have high exchange and gas fees (needed to transfer crypto).
So I went to kraken (just another exchange with way moderate fees) and bought USDC via credit card.
I then transferred this crypto to my metamask wallet which went smoothly within minutes.
Now this USDC is not the USDC you need to purchase the NFA because it is not yet on polygon. Therefore you need a bridging service like
umbria or polygon itself. Unfortunately, if you choose the „wrong“ bridging service the gas fee to power the transaction can easily make up to 40% of your transaction:
As an example: you want to spend 500 USD in fiat: Converting it to USDC takes fees from the exchange (2,5%-10%). Worst case 500 USD to USDC leaves you with 450 USDC. Transferring it to your wallet costs you transaction fees, let’s say 10 USDC. To bridge those 440 USDC left with the wrong service you end up having 250 USDC left. Actually, a nice way to burn some cash.
To bridge via Narni (which was under maintenance at that moment) you need ETH to do so. So you need another time to exchange something to ETH to power the bridging. Depending on how much time you have the bridging process costs a couple of EUR (in ETH) to do so (but not 40%).
The whole process is transparent and you can follow everything on polyscan. Unfortunately, it is still a bit cryptic. I mean UI and UX is something how you can easily scare people with. And they succeeded:
For me, it looked like I just paid 430 USDC transaction fees and when I checked my wallet it was stated as „0,000000000428 USDC“. So I was panicking a bit that I now lost all my money for a single transaction.
But I thought I give it a try to click „buy“ on wwf-nfa.com. But I was missing something important 😉 I needed MATIC (just another crypto) to power the transaction.
Thanks to the discord community some helpful fellow transferred some to me and I finally could make the purchase.
For me personally, I like to play around with upcoming technologies and see their potential for future (business) cases.
In the NFA case, I see a lot of potential for fundraisers etc. to make use of technology to attract other people than the usual suspects. Out there there are so many people who like to contribute – but maybe in a different way as known to us so far. So please keep up with it and use tech to make a „fun“ entrance towards specific topics.
But it needs a bit of tech understanding, a strong community who can help you with, and patience. Not a lot of the people I know would go through this process.
Now that I know how to I would do it again.
And when they opened the store you could choose if you want to pay with crypto or credit card. But hey. I like the learning process of it. Going through it helps me to better understand it.
All the best Persian Leopard! I hope my contribution helps them a bit to keep this endangered species alive.
Original Post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-painful-journey-first-nft-sebastian-winkler/