I was about to drop my $20, but OpenSea didn’t accept credit cards. I would need to buy some Ether cryptocurrency to complete the transaction. OK! i am game With Ether in hand (or more accurately wallet) I went back to OpenSea and attempted to make a purchase. By the time I was ready, those first few drops seemed to have already sold out. The price had gone up. rise. Secondary sellers who may have seen the same Twitter threads I had seen were now trying to flip their OG NFTs. With grim resignation, I bought some more ether and tried again.
That’s when I discovered gas fees, a service fee charged by miners to verify transactions. Since I was cheap, I withdrew. My transaction never went through. Olive Gardens’ price was still rising. I tried again and this time paid the market price. Success! Katie would be so happy.
Except… have you ever tried to give someone an NFT? I had to pay more gas fees to make the transfer. All in all, what I originally thought would cost me $20 and later reassessed at maybe $75 as a joke purchase ended up setting me almost $300 back.
But hey, my friend Katie was now the owner of a kind of JPEG of a photo of an olive garden in a mall in Louisville, Kentucky on the Ethereum blockchain. What a great gift!
That’s it was a great gift until just over a week later when the real Olive Garden’s attorneys sent OpenSea a termination notice, and all of those unreliable Olive Gardens disappeared into the, uh, ether. phew
Like I said, money is weird now. And so this issue delves into how technology is shaping our financial future.
Whether it’s a biometrics-based universal cryptocurrency designed to power Web3, cities built by Bitcoin, digital currencies replacing cash, or how iBuying is changing the real estate market, technology is fundamentally changing the way and how we buy, spend and save. Even the way we play.
We hope you enjoy this issue and that it reveals something new about the present that will help you better understand and prepare for the future. Even if that’s just budgeting your gas fees up front.
Correction: A previous version of this story quoted a copyright notice, it was actually a trademark infringement notice.