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NFTs and the Meme Culture in Nigeria

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NFTs and Nigeria
Image Credit: Kabiru Yusuf

Memes are one of the most prominent features of the internet age. One only needs few seconds of internet time to come across a bunch of memes these days. Some internet memes have attained fame in internet culture, having been used millions—if not billions—of times by internet users on various social media. This is not a surprise because memes are a way for people to express themselves creatively. 

Whether they are celebrities or random individuals, many memes have enjoyed virality in Nigeria.  An easy example is memes made out from clips of Osita Iheme “Pawpaw” a veteran Nollywood actor. The meme-famous actor has made the trend-list many times for his memes, and in 2019, American hip-hop artiste, 50 Cent, posted his memes on his Instagram page.

Unavoidably, human meme characters lack control of their use on the internet, and until recently; they were of no value to them. “Once it’s out there…there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Mr. Roth, father of the “disaster girl” girl meme in an interview. The question now is how memes can benefit from their meme-fame.

What Are NFTS?

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a type of digital crypto asset. NFTs enable individuals to acquire “digital estate” in digital artworks, music, videos, memes, etc. The idea of NFTs is for collectors to own original items—in the case of memes, the original meme image— for digital bragging rights. Also, artists and content creators now have the opportunity to monetize their works with NFTs.

On the business side, NFTs sell for fortunes. A digital collage by Mike Winkelmann (known as Beeple) sold at $69.3 million in March of 2021. The NFT meme market has also recorded great success in recent times. The “disaster girl” meme sold at $500,000 in May. “Bad luck Brian” and “Success kid” memes also auctioned for whooping sums.

NFTs In Nigeria

Nigerians have also hopped on the NFT trend and it seems to be gaining traction. Jason Osinachi, a Nigerian artist, recently sold two of his digital art pieces for $16,227 and $23,633. Popular Nigerian artiste, M.I Abaga, confirmed that his next album would be an NFT.

But the same attention has not been paid to memes in Nigeria, despite the rich meme culture in its internet space and the evident success of the NFT meme market in other parts of the world. 

Until now, there has not been a sale of NFT memes of Nigerian origin. Although notably, Chinedu Ikedieze “Aki”, a popular Nigerian actor, set the record as the first Nigerian actor to get his own NFTs for his memes in June 2021. Expectedly, pundits have made comments about the uncertainty of the future of the NFTs and the tendency for it to be yet another financial bubble like the dotcom bubble, but it observed that every novel blockchain technology before NFTs had to jump these hurdle of doubts. There are also legal considerations that come with NFTs that pertain to taxability of NFTs, ownership of the intellectual property, and copyright infringement, but Oluwapelumi Omoniyi notes that these are issues for which “the law has to be ready”.

Whatever the doubts may be, it is clear that memes are an important part of the internet culture of Nigerians. NFT sales of these memes will further cement the cultural importance of memes in Nigeria. NFT sales have helped “establish memes as a sophisticated art form and serious pieces of culture”, said Ben Lashes, a meme manager to some meme-famous individuals.

Thus, Nigerian meme owners making their move on the market now may yield big profits to them in the future and further immortalize the meme culture in Nigeria.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin.org gets hacked, scammers run BTC giveaway scam

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Earlier today, Bitcoin.org, the oldest cryptocurrency website registered by the founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, recently got hacked. Scammers ran a BTC giveaway scam with a promise to return double the amount users send to the named address. In the end, the scammers were reported to have collected $17,764 before the website was taken down. The website was inaccessible for a few hours after the incident, but normal service has been resumed.

To bring users’ attention to the hack, a pseudo-anonymous Twitter account with the name Cobra took to Twitter to reveal the news and claimed that the website may be offline for some days. He also clarified through his tweets that Bitcoin.org has never been hacked and that the breach must have been due to a lapse on the part of Cloudflare- the web provider that the website is hosted on.

“Bitcoin.org hasn’t been hacked, ever. We move to Cloudflare, and two months later we get hacked. Can you explain where you were routing my traffic too? Because my actual server didn’t get any traffic during the hack” he tweeted.

The scam on the website was perpetrated through a giveaway. Visitors on the website were greeted with a popup, asking them to send crypto to a Bitcoin wallet via a QR code and receive double the amount in return. The fake message showed that the Bitcoin Foundation was giving back to the community and that the giveaway will be limited to the first 10,000 people. This was made to draw more people into the scam.   According to an analysis on the scam address done by Reddit Sleuth, it was presumed that a chunk of the 0.4BTC came from the scammers themselves to add an element of credibility to the claim. At the time of writing this report, Bitcoin.org is once again, back to life.

How popular is the Bitcoin giveaway scam?

Bitcoin giveaway scam is quite popular among hackers as it allows them to make fast money without tampering with anyone’s wallet. In 2020, Twitter handles of top crypto celebrities, politicians and influencers were hacked to run Bitcoin giveaways. While the scammers were apprehended, the value of Bitcoin was not affected.

Today’s scam on Bitcoin.org did not affect the price of the coin either. Despite the Evergrande debt crisis and the fluctuations bedevilling the crypto market within the week, Bitcoin increased by 2.05% within the last 24 hours, thereby moving from $42,789 to $44,378.

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Crypto Assets

Crypto prices drop as global market fear increases

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Top cryptocurrency prices have fallen amidst a drop in stocks and fears over China’s Evergrande debt crisis. In the last 24hour, Bitcoin dropped from $47,772 to $42,630 shedding about 8.58%. this is the lowest in price since another bull run began on Sept 5 after the April crash.

El- Salvador’s President, Nayib Bukele sees the fall as an opportunity to invest more. Recall that the country adopted Bitcoin as a legal tender on September 7. Despite the adoption, the price of Bitcoin has fallen by almost 14% since then.

Other coins have experienced dramatic crashes within the last 24hours. Solana, a coin that has experienced 355% growth within the last 3 months fell from $162 to $130 shedding about 11.39% within the last 24hours. Solana’s fall may be categorized by the 17-hour outage which the founder, Anatoly Yakovenko said was caused by bots “flooding the networks”

Ethereum fell by 9.37% while Dogecoin and Axie Infinity fell by 11.22% and 14.14% respectively within the last 24hrs hours. While crypto experiences dark Monday, El-Salvador keeps investing more money in Bitcoin.

A look at the global market

The global market is experiencing fear due to the Evergrande debt crisis. A report published by the University of Michigan shows that consumer’s sentiment is beginning to decline. This trend alone may impact the crypto market as well.

On the other hand, the global market downturn must have been spurred by the Evergrande debt crisis. The company grew to be one of China’s biggest companies by borrowing more than $300bn. Last year, Beijing made rules to control the debt owed by big real estate developers. This led Evergrande to offer its properties at major discounts to raise more money to keep the business afloat. Right now, the company is struggling to meet the interest on payment of debts.

Why would it matter if Evergrande fails?

The collapse of the multi-million dollars company would affect the global market; including the crypto market. Many people bought properties from Evergrande and they expect to make gains. If Evergrande falls, crypto investors will be forced to withdraw more money to keep their business running without the means to invest more. When one business fails, the other gets affected indirectly. This also applies to other firms that do businesses with Evergrande.

The potential impact on China’s financial system is another effect of Evergrande’s fall. In his statement to BBC, Mattie Berkink, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), said that “the financial fallout would be far-reaching. Evergrande reportedly owes money to around 171 domestic banks 121 other financial firms” if the company fails, other lenders or businesses may be forced to lend less. Thereby leading to a credit crunch- a situation where companies struggle to borrow money.

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Bitcoin

El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption – What you need to know

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El Salvador made history (and headlines) after becoming the first nation to endorse and approve the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, as a legal tender. The move makes Bitcoin acceptable for transactions within the Central American country alongside the U.S dollar, which has been serving as the paper currency since 2001. This comes after the so-called “Bitcoin Law” came into force after passing legislation in June of 2021. El Salvador’s government announced that it had purchased 400 Bitcoin in 2 tranches of 200 each and plans to get more in the future.

The move to adopt Bitcoin has been justified by the government’s need to boost financial inclusion in the country. It is estimated that 70% of El Salvadorans do not have access to financial services and the government believes that Bitcoin can help close the gap. The Bank of America has outlined a few benefits that they believe will result from El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption. These include promotion of financial digitization, streamlining remittances as well as opening the country to digital currency miners. However, not all agree that the move is a step in the right direction.

Amongst the detractors of the scheme are the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, each having warned El Salvador about the risks of Bitcoin’s use as legal tender. The World Bank has been irked by what it described as “environmental and transparency shortcomings” with bitcoin, while the IMF cited “economic and legal concerns” in relation to the move.

Other than the push back from these international bodies, there has been some internal opposition to the adoption of Bitcoin. Citizens had held protests over Bitcoin’s adoption in August and about 67.9% of respondents in a poll said they disagreed with the government’s decision to adopt crypto. The results of the poll showed that 8 in 10 people had little confidence in the use of bitcoin as the currency.

In spite of the criticism, El Salvador’s government is moving forward and has reportedly installed 200 Bitcoin ATMs across the country. And in response to the World Bank’s environmental concerns, El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, has said the country plans to power mining activities using renewable energy from the country’s volcanoes. In order to incentivize the use of Bitcoin in the country, any citizen who signs up for the country’s “Chivo” wallet will get 30$ worth of bitcoin.

All in all, the adoption of a cryptocurrency by a sovereign nation is seen as a testing ground for many, as this is a use case Bitcoin has never experienced in its 12-year history. Countries such as Brazil and Panama seem to be watching the move to draw insights on whether to follow suit.

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