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How NFTs can help shift us towards a sustainable, low-carbon future | Interview with Alun Evans, Co-Founder and CEO of Freeverse

How can NFTs positively influence society and the environment?

It’s a question that is increasingly being brought up. As we enter into this era of digital ownership and digital experiences, NFTs are increasingly used in public discourse but, have received fair criticism for their environmental impact.

Founded in Barcelona, Freeverse is on a mission to power the future of digital ownership. The startup offers a fresh look at NFTs, that are low-cost, appreciate in value, and have less environmental impact. Standing out for its ‘Living Asset’ technology, Freeverse is collaborating with The Balearic Islands Department of Tourism’s Strategic Tourism Agency and gaming agency Play the Game to raise awareness about conserving the endangered Posidonia oceanica meadows – the lung of the Mediterranean Sea.

We sat down with Dr Alun Evans, CEO and Co-Founder of Freeverse to learn more about the company, the power of collaborations, and how futuristic digital tech can support environmental protection.

Can you tell us about Freeverse? 

Our mission is to power the future of digital ownership. In order to make this happen, we leverage blockchain technology to create Living Assets – dynamic, mutable NFTs – that can evolve, scale, and appreciate in value according to how they are actually used. We allow brands and games to create Living Assets that can be bought and sold in both crypto and fiat currencies without paying gas fees and with less impact on the environment. 

This is something that, alongside our partners, we believe will be the next generation of NFTs, an advancement that can’t come soon enough given the (often rightly so) backlash against NFTs as we know them today. Living Assets™ provide brands and game developers powerful new ways to engage their customers or players. Whereas a traditional NFT is static (with its properties set permanently at the time of its creation), a dynamic NFT allows properties to change and evolve based on a user’s interactions with the digital asset. This allows for “User Generated Value” (UGV), where users can change and evolve their digital possessions, making them more (or less) useful to other users, and thus directly affecting their market value. Examples could be upgrading an in-game sword, or a loyalty program card by interacting with a brand on social media. 

What is the long-term plan?

We believe dynamic, mutable NFTs are the natural evolution of NFT technology. We have built a platform that can power the next generation of interacting and creating value with digital assets, and that can reach the mainstream user. 

Our goal is to help companies truly engage with their audiences, increase revenue, and improve lifetime value, be it through a video game, loyalty program, or any other digital campaign.

What are the benefits of NFTs? 

Most people think of NFTs as these immutable collectibles that people buy and sell almost as an investment. What we’re trying to do at Freeverse is move that discussion away from speculation and scarcity. We are actively developing dynamic, mutable NFTs — what we call Living Assets™ — which allow user interactions to affect the NFT’s properties and therefore affect its value. That moves NFTs away from the passive activity of purely collecting them to an active engagement with the underlying brand or offering. This can lead to greater user retention, as Living Assets™ owners are encouraged to return to the original creator of their assets to interact, share or even trade them upon increasing their value. There is a massive opportunity here for the games industry and brands in general. 

Our technology can be easily integrated with third-party apps and permits trading in regular currencies (dollars, euros, etc) without resorting to a cryptocurrency exchange, and we support a variety of projects and products. For example, we are working with CUPRA to power their metaverse, Metahype, with Living Assets™ in the form of a gamification system that automatically rewards users for engaging within the platform.

What is the environmental impact? 

Freeverse uses Layer-2 scaling technology deployed on the Polygon blockchain. Polygon itself is a scaling solution for Ethereum, and so has a considerably lower impact on the environment. Our Layer-2 scaling tech reduces that impact even further – as it allows the creation of extremely low cost, dynamic NFTs that consume more than one million times less energy than regular NFTs.

Freeverse recently announced a partnership with Play the Game for a marketing campaign for The Balearic Islands Dept of Tourism. Can you tell us about that?

We partnered with Barcelona-based web3 and gaming agency Play the Game to help The Balearic Islands Dept of Tourism raise awareness about conserving the endangered Posidonia Oceanica meadows – the lungs of the Mediterranean Sea. 

How did the campaign work?

The Balearic Islands Department of Tourism’s Strategic Tourism Agency’s (AETIB) campaign featured five “Poseidonic” NFT superheroes powered by our Living Assets™ Social Evolver, which allows them to “evolve” up to three times based on actions taken by participants (owners of the superheroes) on social media.

By performing certain actions on social media, participants could accumulate points that enabled their Poseidonic NFT superhero to evolve from its initial phase to its end state. These actions included following, liking, and retweeting the Balearic Islands Department of Tourism’s Twitter account, using the campaign hashtag, or uploading a video related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) about the need for sustainable tourist destination development. Participants became a part of the #SavePosidonia project and played an active role in raising awareness about the protection and conservation of the endangered plant. 

What is the benefit of public/private sector collaborations? 

Collaborations between the public and private sectors are a great way to combine strengths and bring innovative solutions to the wider society faster. The private sector can help bring an innovative, agile approach to public sector projects. By leveraging technology, the public sector can potentially reduce costs and optimise resource allocation as well. Meanwhile, the public sector can offer the private sector, or startups like ours, access to infrastructure, expertise, and networking opportunities that may be difficult to obtain otherwise. 

We see here a connection between futuristic digital tech and environmental protection. What’s the scope here? What is the long-term impact we can expect?

Shifting towards a sustainable, low-carbon future requires a forward-thinking reevaluation of existing infrastructure systems, and a key component to this successful transition is the adoption of innovative technologies. While blockchain technology has long been criticised for its impact on the environment, many chains have become more energy-efficient and can play an important role in developing a more sustainable future. For instance, blockchain technologies can help organisations improve the tracking of sustainability efforts and metrics. It can help hold organisations responsible for their sustainability claims and provide ways to verify and reward sustainable behaviour over time. 

Do you foresee similar partnerships in the future?

Absolutely. Living Assets™ technology is unlocking exciting new digital experiences, turning the passive experience of simply owning a digital collectible or NFT into an active and valuable brand and public sector engagement. We have also partnered with My Learning NFT to allow educational organisations to reward students with a dynamic certificate after completing a course. The dynamic certificate also encourages continuous learning by appreciating over time as a student completes new courses. We look forward to helping more brands use this technology to create exciting new campaigns and reward their followers and customers. 

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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