Shipwreck artifacts become real use case for non-fungible tokens

February 11, 2019 // By Rich Pell
Shipwreck artifacts become real use case for non-fungible tokens
Marine archaeology technology startup PO8 (Grand Bahama, Bahamas) has announced that it is using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) - a special type of non-interchangeable cryptographic token that represents something unique - to catalog recovered shipwreck artifacts on the blockchain.

The company uses blockchain technology to excavate underutilized sunken treasures and artifacts from shipwreck sites in The Bahamas - a market sized at an estimated $100 billion. By using NFTs, says the company, it is restoring trust to the marine salvage industry, an industry known for bad actors pillaging shipwreck sites or defrauding investors, and resulting in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas having held a moratorium over its territorial waters preventing underwater expeditions for the last 18 years.

"Through NFTs we are setting a new standard for artifact recovery," says Matthew Arnett, CEO of PO8. "NFTs will be that necessary bridge between the archaeology community and the commercial side. This not only allows us to recover artifacts for preservation purposes, but it also lets us embrace the economic side of it in a responsible way."

NFTs, says the company, make it possible for the physical artifacts to remain in the possession of the PO8 Museum Foundation ensuring preservation and access to recovered artifacts via exhibitions and educational programs, while the ownership can be sold in the form of an NFT to collectors and investors worldwide. The end result is a new asset class and store of value for the owners, and new sources of revenues for The Bahamas.

For example, if a user purchases Artifact X from PO8 for $25,000, Artifact X will continue to remain under the custody of PO8 to be used for educational programs or loaned to museums, while the user holds the digital token in their possession confirming they are the rightful owner of Artifact X, with a stored value of $25,000. The user can now store their token in their crypto wallet or upload to the PO8 NFT marketplace to sell their position in Artifact X.

The company says NFTs offer several benefits:

  • Provenance - Establishes provenance via smart contracts allowing for tracking and verification of ownership in artifacts and bringing back trust and transparency for PO8's partners, as in the case with the Government of The Bahamas after an 18-year moratorium.
  • Stored value - Creates a stored value for artifacts through non-fungible tokens or NFTs (ERC-1155 standard) living on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Custodial security layer - Physical artifacts remain with PO8 or approved custodians such as museums, universities, and traveling exhibitions rather than taken away and hidden in private collections.
  • Bridge to liquidity - With a first-of-its-kind curated digital commodity marketplace, investors can leverage their artifact backed tokens at any given time. The PO8 marketplace serves as an immediate bridge to liquidity allowing investors to buy or sell their artifact NFTs worldwide.

The company received its salvaging license from the Bahamian government in late 2017. In addition to artifact recovery, PO8's plans include a multi-million dollar museum and interactive marine park, IP leasing of data collected via ROV-conducted exploratory missions, and an NFT collectible game called Skully's.

PO8

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