NFTs are not just 8-bit artwork you can buy online, the next big investment opportunity, or a really quick way to lose cash — though they definitely can be all those things.
At its most basic, a non-fungible token is a permanent record on a blockchain that can’t be changed, destroyed, or messed with. The record usually represents something like a unique digital work — think Bored Ape Yacht Club chimps — or a digital ‘ticket’ that gives you access to something for token owners only.
While you can sell an NFT on an open exchange like OpenSea or Rarible, it doesn’t have a ‘set’ price. Trading it works a lot like trading traditional artworks or Action Comics number one — the demand for your particular NFT helps determine the price. But beyond speculation (and artistic appreciation), what’s the point of NFTs and how can we add additional value to them?
Utility NFTs are the answer to that question.
What are Utility NFTs and why should you care?
A utility NFT is an NFT that’s actually useful. High utility NFTs give owners a set of unique perks. Those perks can be anything from access to an exclusive, invitation-only event, to a discount on merch, to a vote on how community resources get spent.
Unlike scammy-feeling NFTs with plummeting value, NFTs with real-world utility are the future. Each NFT can have different levels of utility and access. Web3 authentication (it’s what we do at SlashAuth) makes this possible and is something devs, businesses, and creators can use to create unique tiered offers.
But before we get into all that, let’s take a look at the best NFTs with utility that are around right now.
Current NFTs with the best real-world utility
If you’re new to the utility NFT game — or if you’re just looking for some good new-fashioned NFT inspiration — these utility NFTs are definitely worth a second look.
Communities should get to decide how their resources get spent, right? Nouns makes that possible.
One new ‘noun’ — a unique piece of 8-bit style digital art — is generated, and auctioned off, every day. Anyone that buys a noun, becomes a member of the Nouns community and gets one vote per noun. The money generated from each auction goes into the treasury, giving the community access to substantial shared resources. This lets people make key decisions together.
Tired of looking at the real estate market from the outside? RealT uses NFTs to give anyone access to a piece of the US real estate market.
Here’s how it works: to comply with property laws, each purchasable property is owned by a different company. That company is then split into a series of tokens. You can buy as many tokens as you want and — based on your share — you can vote on decisions and even collect rent. This lets people invest in property without the level of collateral they’d traditionally need.
Note: Before you start shopping for real estate with RealT, be sure to check what’s going on with US law. There’s speculation that potential law changes could critically affect the project.
3. Bored Ape Yacht Club
Bored Apes are an NFT staple — the original NFTs have sold for millions a pop. But this limited NFT collection takes things in a new, utilitarian direction. The token gives you access to an exclusive membership with hidden bonuses, including access to special perks at Andy Nguyen’s restaurant Bored & Hungry, guest status at the private annual Ape Fest festival, exclusive merch, VR land, and so much more.
4. Stoner Cats
Ever wondered what happens when smart creatives — with credits like Toy Story 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, and The Grinch — join forces with Mila Kunis’s production company? The answer is a clever, creative collaboration like Stoner Cats — an animated show with a twist.
Here’s the thing: Stoner Cats is only accessible through collectible NFT tokens (and they are very expensive). The token grants you a membership and, through the membership, you get the perks of watching the show and interacting with other members. It’s not as interactive as other web3 projects, but it’s a novel way to support both fan and professional productions.
5. Axie Infinity
If you ever found yourself wishing for a game that perfectly combines angry birds with pokemon, Axie Infinity is it. The game’s — and the NFTs’ — main utility is fun. You can use your Axie to battle other players, collect more Axies, and build shared experiences. It’s a way to share in a unique experience only other Axie-holders can enjoy.
6. Crypto Baristas
Who said cool coffee shops and businesses have to be funded in the traditional way? Launched by Coffee Bros — a roastery dedicated to leveling up the coffee experience — Crypto Baristas is funding the first NFT-funded cafe in New York City.
Owning one of the limited runs of hand-drawn coffee characters gives you access to merch, discounts, and a direct say on where the company is heading. In short, you get a limited-run first edition cartoon and you get to invest in a community-powered cafe at the same time.
7. Zed Run
We’re pretty sure that sports betting was created approximately three seconds after the first set of humans played the first ever sport. Zed Run is a utility NFT that follows that tradition. It brings horse racing to the digital world. The token lets you build a stable, race your digital horse, and — just like in real sports betting — win and lose accordingly.
Move over Tamagochi, it’s time for Tamadoge. Create and breed your own doge pet in the metaverse, train it and then pit it against others. Owning this token lets you play with friends and put your pet doge to the test — and there’s a plan to include exclusive augmented experiences down the road. While the main utility here is fun (and games), it highlights the potential usefulness of NFTs in online gaming.
This Renga may not be the RENGA you’re thinking of. Instead, it’s a limited-run NFT minted by a Toronto-based marketing agency. The Renga pass gives holders priority status for getting on the studio’s client calendar and 10% off all invoices, forever. This is a brilliant way for an agency to raise money and book projects at the same time.
Love him or hate him, no NFT list would be complete without Gary Vee’s VeeFriends. Owning a VeeFriends NFT gives you free access to both the digital community and VeeCon — an exclusive event just for NFT holders — for the next three years. This is a smart way to take audience building for influencers and marketers to a whole new level.
RTFKT bridges the gap between the metaverse and the real-world with sneakers and clothing that can be worn both by you and your avatar. Dedicated to bringing a hype mentality to the NFT world, RTFKT has seen massive success through collaborations with the likes of designer Jeff Staple, crypto-artist Fewocious, and artist Takashi Murakami. Nike procured RTFKT in December 2021 as their first step into the metaverse.
If you’re committed to the environment (which you better be!), you’ll be interested in Woodies. Woodies creates nature and conservation-themed NFTs, complete with lore, that are attached to real-world conservation. Through minting NFTs, Woodies has planted a whopping 1 million trees. No pixel dust here.
Interest rate swaps are agreements in which two parties swap one form of future interest payment for another based on a specific principal amount. They’re traditionally used by financial institutions to hedge against losses, speculate, or manage credit risks. Voltz makes this possible for cryptocurrencies for the first time. Even more importantly, the emergence of Voltz signals that utility NFTs are ready to take over many of the role played by traditional financial markets.
Upcoming NFTs with utility you shouldn’t snooze on
We covered some of the coolest NFTs with the best utility kicking around right now. But what about upcoming NFTs with utility? Here are five tokens you should keep an eye on.
Love exclusivity and music? Then you’ll love Cocky. It’s a lifestyle club. Owning a token gives you access to exclusive digital and real-world music events. The location of the first event is going to be revealed over the next couple of months.
This project from Yuga Labs is one of the most exciting utility NFTs in development at the moment. The token Otherdeed will allow you to join prototype builds, experience demos, and help direct the levels and design that gamers will enjoy for years to come.
Really love horse racing? Then Silks is the NFT to keep an eye on. Each thoroughbred US horse running real races will get a digital tokenized twin you can buy. Every time the real-world equivalent wins a race, you’ll win prizes. And that’s just the start — you can create a horse farm, pool winnings, and more.
4. Fitness Fiends
This token will give real-world access to the Fitness Fiends gym in London so your physical self can work out alongside your virtual self. And so non-Londoner members don’t feel left out, you’ll also get a discount on the Fitness Fiends store, access to launch events and parties, exclusive discounts with partner brands, and access to MetaVerse fitness classes and hangout spots.
5. Real Estate Investment Club
This metaverse-focused project will use the Unreal Engine to build a shared, community-only metacity. Ownership doesn’t just give you entry to that little corner of the Metaverse — you also get access to exclusive IRL events to learn more about investing, merch, and voting rights over the future of the club. (And seeing that some of the artists involved have worked on Rockstar games including GTA5 and RDR, the look of the NFTs should be phenomenal.)
A word about soulbound tokens and what they mean for the future of the NFT space
We can’t talk about NFTs without at least mentioning soulbound tokens. So, what are they?
Normal NFTs can be bought and sold on digital exchanges. The mania-like increase in NFT value and the sale of digital art for millions of dollars was spurred through exchanges like that. However, unlike traditional NFTs, a soulbound token cannot be bought, sold, or transferred. It’s tied to you — forever.
These tokens were proposed by Vitalik Buterin — the creator of Ethereum — as a solution to the growing NFT speculation problem. Soulbound token uses are still being explored. Proposals include using them as digital ID cards, a way to verify job histories, and even as an identity verification method. One thing is for certain: the combination of soulbound tokens with utility will be fascinating to watch.
Utility NFTs and you: what happens next?
When done right, NFTs don’t just give you access to a unique digital file. They give you exclusive perks like community membership, discounts, and access to one-off events most people can only dream of.
But while NFTs are exciting for consumers, they’re even more exciting for entrepreneurs and developers. You can use them to create an unmatched experience. So if you’re a web3 developer looking to add utility to your NFTs, our multi-level access auth solution can help. Seriously. You can be up and running in under 15 mins. Curious? Get SlashAuth now.