Never bite the hand that feeds unless…

It was a news story that went under the radar in many parts of the word, but on Monday it was reported that a 55 second YouTube video had been sold $760,999. Whilst the video is an opportunist, amateur production, the amount it has been sold for is almost Hollywood value. I am sure many of us will have seen the video in question, simply known as Charlie bit my finger but perhaps we may not in the future, depending on the motivations of the new owner.

The sale came after the video was listed on the website with the simple explanation of “Bid to own the soon-to-be-deleted YouTube phenomenon, Charlie Bit My Finger, leaving you as the sole owner of this lovable piece of internet history”. The auction ran for just over 24 hours, with the opening bid being $99,999, with 11 active bidders then driving the price up to $760,999, the winning bid by “3fmusic”. The video is still available to watch on YouTube, with the message “Waiting on NFT decision”. What happens next is a mystery.

The video was posted 14 years ago and has since racked up nearly 885 million views – it is a huge investment in a relatively new way of owning digital media. Whilst there could be opportunities to monetise it in some way to get a return on investment through advertising on digital platforms such as YouTube, it would take some time to recover that on a video, which whilst is a piece of Internet history, is over 14 years old. Of course, this could be a shrewd investment, based on the fact there is only one authentic copy of the video which could appreciate in value over time.

On the other hand there is almost certainly copies/downloads of the video elsewhere on the Internet or on peoples digital devices. There are numerous programmes that allow users to download YouTube videos – NFT prices/values are driven in part by scarcity of the digital media, so whilst there will be one owner of the original, others will be able to still watch the same video on other platforms. That is a form of digital piracy but it becomes incredibly hard to constantly monitor the internet for websites that may be hosting the file.

The market of and for NFTs continues to evolve. There have been some interesting developments within the music industry of artists looking to release their material as NFTs, with digital archives of who owns the music being recorded within a specific blockchain, but this particular purchase could be a compelling event for the sale of digital media. Content creators could potentially sell their work as single, authenticated items rather than syndicate content.

Now, where did I put those videos I sent to You’ve Been Framed twenty years ago?

Building the future one block at a time

Over the last few weeks I’ve taken online classes to try to understand the concept of Blockchain and how it can be used by organisations to create new business models and applications. My interest was peaked by the whole NFT craze within the NBA world (“Top Shots”) and how scarcity and authenticity were managed through a blockchain application.

I have to say I was one of those who scratched my head to understand not just what blockchain technology was, but what the value was for organisations to create business models and applications using the blockchain. The course, delivered by the University of California, Berkeley, helped me fill in some of the blanks I had in my knowledge as well as giving me an understanding as to why organisations are looking at ways to implement blockchain-based solutions to help increase their protection, and ultimately, their customers, protection against fraud and cyber security issues.

It was quite coincidental that during the final parts of my studies there was an interesting new use case in the technology press that ticked a lot of the boxes about brand and risk protection, two usage cases of interest for me.

The United Arab Emirates has launched a new blockchain-based platform called UAE Trade Connect, that at its heart will prevent a number of fraud-based activities in the financial world, including money laundering, bribery and the effects/impact of Business Email Continuity scams (BECs).

The blockchain platform has been developed by Etisalat, the biggest name in the telecoms world in the United Arab Emirates along with a number of major banks and at its heart will ensure that all transactions between the banks are stored in a secure, audited and verified way on the distributed ledger-based blockchain. The advantage of using blockchain technology for the network is that it provides that unequivocal, independent verification of each transaction whilst retaining the sensitive information of each party.

Zulqarnain Javaid, CEO, UAE Trade Connect said, “The announcement is a milestone moment in the financial sector in UAE. Technological advancements are presenting innovative solutions to historic problems and enabling the sector to power forward. The solution is aligned with the UAE government’s vision to bring futuristic technologies like blockchain and will be yet another enabler for economic growth.”

In terms of how it works, each of the seven banks has their own blockchain node within the Etisalat cloud. The banks share a transaction (invoices, funds transfers or settlements) using a fingerprint (called a hash lock) of the data – which means they can’t see the client or the transaction details from another bank.

From a point of view of ensuring complete transparency and auditability, the blockchain solution ticks all the boxes. There are some limitations with blockchain technology within the finance world, such as transaction speed. Due to blockchain being a distributed system, its transaction processing power depends on the computational power of the machines on the network. In comparison to Visa’s 1,700 transactions per second, blockchain can process around 4.6 transactions per second on average. Not too much of an issue if the transactions are settlement payments but if they are for financial market transactions where milliseconds matter, it could be a concern.

In a few years time I am sure blockchain-based solutions will be all around us and they will be considered an integral part of how the technically interact with each other, organisations and the digital world around us. But today, solutions like UAE Trade Connect are relatively unique in terms of brand and risk protection but certainly one that other industries will be looking at closely.