Well, folks, its official -- non-fungible tokens (a.k.a NFTs) are the next big investment craze, dominating the worlds of tech and business as several celebrity "artists" like Grimes, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Kings of Leon race to peddle their artwork through the digital medium. Yet amid all the talk about what, exactly nonfungible tokens are (essentially a collectible digital trading card that cannot be used as a currency like bitcoin) and what, exactly they do (verifying that you're most definitely part of the 1% via blockchain), another question remains -- if NFTs are non-fungible, what exactly would a fungible token do?
Luckily for us, it seems publicly-traded human (more on that later) and avant-garde entrepreneur Mike Merrill has an answer to our burning inquiry -- a literal quarter, selling the coin as a crash-proof answer to the trend on what appears to be his website.
"Headlines abound with the promise of riches in the NFT boom, but after a boom comes a bust, or more gently, a 'market correction.'" The product page reads. "With the re-introduction of non-cryptographic tokens you can shield yourself from the wild swings of speculation and best of all avoid those high gas fees (be warned that gas prices are expected to continue to rise)."
After describing its immunity to a probable future NFT bust, Merrill then took a moment to explain the very specific differences between an NFT and an, erm, FT. "So what is a 'fungible token'?Well, unlike an NFT there is nothing especially unique about fungible tokens," the listing continues. "Each token holds a set amount of value that does not change. How can a token hold an even price? Well, it's by decree of the United States Government and is backed by a monopoly on legal violence. This special contract allows the government the right to decide the freedom of any citizen and also the value of any token they issue."
This description even noted the FT's novel analog qualities. "So this is pretty wild... even if you buy a 0.25 Unit Fungible Token for .55 ETH the actual value of the token itself remains at 0.25 USD. And, on top of that, this is all done off chain and with no smart contract." A quarter? without blockchain?! Technology has officially gone too far.
Despite its affordability and relatively steady value (inflation, folks!) there is one major drawback to purchasing these types of tokens -- FTs generally aren't very unique. "One token that has been minted by the government and backed by the threat of state violence," the page explained. "This token has no serial number and is 100% FUNGIBLE! Each token can only ever be worth 25% of the value of a USD Coin. It is marked by the date it was minted. Some tokens are part of limited edition drops and highlight one of the fifty states. Strangely, these special top tokens have no additional value," the description said, noting that "special edition tokens are shipped at random."
Before hopping on the NFT bandwagon, sort of, Merrill made headlines nearly a decade ago for his status as a publicly-traded human, meaning investors can buy a stake in his life and influence his decisions based on how much stock they own. "Thanks to his shareholders -- currently there are 160 -- Merrill is now a pescetarian and, involuntarily, a registered Republican; he has tattooed the words "Panic Inc" (the Apple software company where he works) on his left shoulder," Vice wrote of his erm, inventive side hustle back in 2012. "He even dodged a vasectomy by just one vote." Close call, buddy. Although it should be noted that the majority of his store, linked above, is exclusively for shareholders, it seems one can buy the novelty fungible token without investing in Merrill.
So how, exactly does this work? "By 'buying shares' in Mike Merrill you are in effect giving me money," Merrill explained on his website's about page. "In exchange, I am valuing your input on my choices based on how many of those shares you buy. As this mini-economy grows, my stock price will become a benchmark for my success; the higher the stock price, the more optimistic my shareholders are." As of March 8, the most recent data point available, a share of Merrill's life was worth $4.74, according to the chart on his site.
So folks, as the NFT boom rages on, think about your financial future -- would you rather drop roughly $600k to own a gif of Nyan cat or just 25 cents for a not-so-rare or one of a kind fungible token that barring extreme inflation, will likely stand a moderate-term test of time. Your money, your decisions!