Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have made it possible for artists and creators to monetise their artwork on the internet, without relying on art galleries and art shows. With the emergence of new NFT marketplaces, digital creators are able to sell all types of media, including songs, videos, images, GIFs, in the form of digital collectibles.
Cryptocurrency and NFTs both run on blockchain technology. But the major distinction among the two is that unlike crypto coins, NFTs are non-fungible meaning that every NFT has its own unique and distinct value. Two NFTs cannot be the same. Its uniqueness is what gives value to it.
In today’s column, we discuss how you can verify the authenticity of NFTs, and check whether your NFTs are indeed unique.
But, why is it necessary to verify NFTs? The simple reason is— uniqueness. Scammers are increasingly taking advantage of the open source nature of blockchain. As a result, NFT collectors could be left with counterfeit artwork.
Validating every transaction also means that every NFT that you buy or sell is authentic and is sent to the right person, and for the right amount of money. This means checking its authenticity, assessing its value, and then buying or selling it for the right price.
Authentication enables you to check who minted the NFT, when, and how many people owned it. So that you’re buying the real NFT, and not a knockoff version.
Thanks to blockchain technology, every digital asset is verifiable and consists of a transaction log that can assist in proving the record of ownership. Further, Blockchain offers the security for these NFTs as well, keeping every data safe and impossible to edit, modify or duplicate.
Methods to verify NFTs
There are several methods to verify the authenticity of NFTs. Here are some of the methods to verify an NFT you want to sell or buy.
NFT Metadata: The first one is rather a technical method to check the authenticity of an NFT. Users familiar with Blockchain can go to the smart contract of an NFT. Smart contracts are algorithms or a set of programs stored on blockchain, which executes when a condition is met.
These contracts have something called ‘Details’, where you can check for the NFTs metadata. Upon clicking on ‘Details’, you will find:
#The NFT name
#The blockchain name that hosts the NFT
#NFT’s Token ID
#The NFT’s metadata status either ‘centralized’ or “frozen”
#The NFT’s encoding standard such as ERC-721
Notably, NFT metadata cannot be edited or modified by anyone. After gaining access to token IDs, you will gain the ability to check for the owner address in the blockchain and marketplace’s archives. This way, you can check for any new transactions as well as any suspicious activity.
NFT verification service: NFT verification services can also help. There are several NFT verifications tools that will process the search for you, provided you use a service that is compatible with NFT’s coding standard.
These tools are very quick and offer the easiest way to verify an NFT ownership. They also flag any NFTs that are fake. However, these services are not completely foolproof. They cannot show you if a stolen work became an NFT.
Reverse check images: Using simple techniques, especially in case of artwork can help too. For every NFT artwork, you wish to buy— a Google reverse check can help you find out important information about a photo such as the number of variants of an image that have been flying on the internet, how long the image has existed, and even the first upload date.
Social media: The socials of a creator can tell alot about their work. It is also an easy way to know if someone is a scammer or they are indeed an artist. Check their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook as well as Reddit profile. You might find some relevant information. Also, don’t forget to read the comments section under their posts to see what people are saying about their work.
Browse through different NFT marketplaces: Before buying an NFT, check all the marketplaces where the NFT is being listed, and for what price. An artist can defraud people by selling the same artwork on different blockchains since they’ll each have distinct tags. Note, a legitimate creator will only choose one decentralised ledger.
For instance, if a creator uploads an NFT to OpenSea and then the same to Rarible, and since both mint on Ethereum blockchain, while it may ruin the creator’s reputation as an NFT artist, it could still be legit artwork. However, if the same creator decides to upload on a different marketplace which uses, say Polygon Blockchain, then chances are it is a hoax.
Cheap price: Follow the common saying: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Every artwork has a value defined to it.
If you think you’re getting something for a ridiculously cheap price, below its perceived prices, chances are it might be a scam as well.
All the aforementioned methods can help you determine whether an NFT is legit or a scam. Remember, these methods are still not foolproof, however, they can still save you a lot of trouble in the world of scams.
It is true that the NFT industry is still in its nascent stage—and there is a lot to accomplish yet. The NFT community should look into providing better ways to authenticate these. Despite all the tech available there are still loopholes that scammers could take advantage of, and sell plagiarised work for hundreds and thousands of dollars.
A promising project that aims to make NFTs viable financial assets would be the self-sovereign identity (SSI) standard. SSI applications enable the creator or artist to sign off that a digital or physical asset was created by them. Buyers can then verifiably check they are indeed purchasing an NFT that was created by the artist. As SSI goes mainstream, problems with identity crisis and originality might abate. However, this has a long way to go.