An NFT Bubble Is Taking Over the Gig Economy


Jose Fernando Rico Mercado, 34, who co-owns three daycare facilities in Mexico, has always been a side gig, including designing notebooks for sale on demand on Amazon. During the pandemic, his monthly income dropped from a peak of $ 17,000 to almost zero. He joined Fiverr and in mid-2021 set up a team of illustrators to handle orders for the new NFT collection, working full-time. Since then, he has earned $ 268,000 from NFT collectors.

The amount of money these freelancers earn looks astronomical until they are put into full context. According to blockchain research firm Chainalysis, the 2021 NFT market was worth $ 44 billion. At the end of this year, the average value per NFT transaction was around $ 1,000. According to Chainalysis data, three-quarters of people selling products on Fiverr outnumber those offering freelancers to design the entire collection.

“There is a bigger problem with the overall structure of how these economies are built,” says Catherine Flick, a computing and social responsibility scholar at De Montfort University. “We need someone working at the bottom to create these 15,000 works of art.”

The injustices of the NFT world in the distribution of wealth can best be seen through its signature collection, the Bored Ape Yacht Club. The 10,000 apes are loved by major celebrities and those who “participate” in the collection early on, and are worth $ 2.5 billion based on current minimum rates. Currently, you can’t buy a boring ape for less than $ 250,000. Seneca, an Asian-American pseudonym artist who was commissioned to design an ape in 2021, has stated that the amount paid for her work has been “absolutely not ideal” since then.

Andres Guadamuz, an intellectual property law scholar at the University of Sussex, said: “In some cases, the artist is at the forefront of the project, but in most cases art is irrelevant and its value lies in the white papers and roadmap.”

Flick likens the NFT sector to a “colonialist project.” In this project, the people at the top of the chain have the capital and wealth to determine the rules and the people below them to execute the orders. “The entire system was supposed to be decentralized to free the economy from these centralized institutions like banks, but what’s really happening now is a new set with almost the same functionality. Is to create an institution for, “says Flick. “They gate-keep and utilize people’s labor.”

Seneca’s idea that the artwork will be used when it is transformed into a top-selling NFT is shared by others in the community. Providing illustrators to reduce the profits they earn from their clients, Tavis is working on its own NFT collection to reduce and increase the profits of its gig platform clients. “We know that we currently only create a certain amount for each collection, but if we create our own collections, we get much more from it,” he says.

As soon as gig economy workers rush to serve the rapidly expanding NFT space, if the NFT bubble is about to burst, they are forced to adapt to the next big thing: May be done. If that happens, the prognosis is not good. “I think they’re probably a little screwed in,” says Flick.

Rico Mercado does not believe that the heyday of NFTs will last long, but is preparing to move to the Metaverse. “Half of the messages I receive every day are related to 3D,” he says. Both are very important to the Metaverse. “Now everyone needs 3D.”

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