There’s a constant restructuring and reforming of communities on the Internet. Popular interests come and go. Social platforms come and go. But the human desire to gather around a shared interest always remains. This is why I believe Access Tokens are among the best NFT use cases we have today.
Access NFTs represent your key to accessing a community or experience. That access could be to a chat app like Discord or Telegram, it could be a web game like the Royal Society of Players, or they can even be communities in the physical world.
But how exactly does an NFT grant you access to a gated community? Can these passes be forged? And what is the future of Access NFTs?
How Access Tokens Work
When Q and I decided to get back into digital art earlier this year and ultimately build NFT QT – a destination for anyone to learn about NFTs – I knew it would be imperative for me to have direct communication with other NFT experts. Essentially more sources of knowledge who could lend insights to our platform.
Most “NFT talk” was happening on Twitter or Clubhouse, where conversations are free. But it seemed like a shouting match to me.
So when I saw the announcement of MetaverseHQ – an online community for people interested in NFTs – I jumped on it. One, it was reassuring that it was started by someone notable in NFTs: ColeThereum. Two, I liked that it was capped to 1,500 members (only those who owned an MVHQ NFT).
Now, I had never directly spent $300 (0.12 ETH) to join a club. But I figured it would be worthwhile and a cool experience nonetheless. (Update: it’s more than paid for the cost.)
Mostly, I was curious how an NFT could actually be your ticket into an online community. How could they police this? How did an Access NFT work logistically?
After purchasing the MVHQ NFT, I followed the link on their Twitter to join the Discord chat group – which is where the actual Metaverse Headquarters would be. The first thing I was prompted to do after accepting the invite, was to verify that I, in fact, held an MVHQ NFT.
Verifying my Access NFT was super simple. I went to a channel in their Discord called “verify”. Once in that channel, I was prompted by a bot called Collab.Land to connect my wallet. I clicked a couple of buttons, Collab.Land checked my wallet, and in seconds I was given access to the entire MVHQ Discord group.
Instantly, dozens of different channels with thousands of messages populated that Discord community. Whether I wanted to chat about Axie Infinity, Top Shot, generative art, collectibles, new NFT releases, etc., there was a channel for each topic. But this is all beside the point.
Collab.Land (and other services like it) is the secret sauce in the Access Token equation. If Access NFTs are like tickets to get into a sporting event, then Collab.Land would be security at the gate checking tickets.
Currently, the primary place that Access NFTs give access to is Discord groups. And Collab.Land makes it simple for creators to specify exactly which NFT acts as your pass into that Discord group.
But other tools are making Access NFTs more encompassing.
The Future of Unlock Protocol
There are dozens, if not hundreds of different types of “gated” experiences on the Internet. We already discussed gated communities. But there is also gated content (articles and courses), gated products (software), and gated experiences (meeting a celebrity and professional coaching).
Unlock Protocol has created an Ethereum-based protocol that allows creators to easily gate certain benefits or experiences on the Internet through NFTs. Essentially allowing creators to create Access Tokens that fit into their existing business model.
- CroissantETH is using Unlock to create secret blog pages on their website that only their holders can see.
- Dinner DAO is using Unlock to create a professional group dinner series where the Dinner DAO NFT holders can vote and plan on group dinners and then meetup in real-life.
- Poolsuite is using Unlock to upgrade their current music streaming site to offer more exclusive music streams and chat groups.
As the emerging markets cliché goes, Unlock Protocol is “laying the pipes”. Their product makes it easier for NFTs to provide more than collectible value by turning them into keys that unlock any number of Internet experiences.
They’re empowering creators to adopt NFTs and use them to engage with their fans by making it easy on the creator. And I believe we’re going to hear a lot more from this (recently $4m funded) company.
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