Lajethro Jenkins talks with VP of Panini, Jason Howarth, to discuss Non-fungible tokens, blockchain technology and the rising popularity of digital collectibles.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: What's up? I'm Lajethrow Jenkins. I'm here talking to Jason Howard, the VP of Panini America. How are you doing, man?
JASON HOWARD: Hey, man. How are you?
LAJETHRO JENKINS: Thanks for talking to us. I'm extremely excited about this. I have very, very basic knowledge. So before we get into [INAUDIBLE] America and what you do, we need some foundational information on all this-- so like blockchain, NFTs, ethereum. What the hell is going on?
JASON HOWARD: For sure, so I mean, ultimately, NFT is just about having a token assigned to a digital asset so that you can track ownership. So that is a baseline. That's what that's about. That's the value.
And blockchain obviously gives you the ability to maintain that ledger of that digital asset over time. So from that perspective, that's the basic block of blockchain and NFT. They go hand in hand.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: So non-fundgeable. That means that it cannot be duplicated, correct? So--
JASON HOWARD: Correct.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: So if you have access to this, it's not like a baseball card where there's 20 of them out there. You own this, correct?
JASON HOWARD: Well, so they could have variations of that. So obviously they have base versions that could be available to 3,000 or whatever they deem the number is. But you would have one of those 3,000, much like the physical trading card side of things. For about three years now, we really kind of dug in on blockchain, trying to get an understanding of what's the best way to utilize blockchain and NFT in the trading card category.
And so we looked at a whole bunch of different things. We looked at a whole bunch of different platforms. We ultimately decided at the time that collectors and the collecting community still had a lot of education and learning to do as it related to blockchain and the NFT.
And instead of being sold into cryptocurrency, we would sell that for US dollars because collectors understand the value of cards usually in US dollars. So they can automatically get an idea of like, OK, hey, this is what a physical card would be worth.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: So you can still use blockchain and exchange US dollars? You don't have to use a cryptocurrency?
JASON HOWARD: For Panini, yes, that's correct.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: OK, so we've heard a lot about NBA Top Shot. I don't think people quite get that yet either. But the name is familiar. What is Panini's relation to that? Is it like upper deck and flier? Or is it just a totally different thing? You know what I mean?
JASON HOWARD: With NBA Top Shot out on the market now, more consumers are getting larger awareness of what this all means. They're starting to understand the idea of a smart wallet and what that means, how to go about purchasing currency. And we're not the ones having to be out there on the island educating everyone to hey, here, this is what you need to do.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: What were the insights you guys had to see this coming? And is there a bubble or so? I mean, are you afraid of that?
JASON HOWARD: We're not because I think again, we looked at blockchain. And NFT is, like I said, 2 and 1/2 years ago. It's another way to collect and consume it. We can see who owns what. And if you're a collector, and you want to buy that card that has the NFT blockchain asset tied to it, you know exactly who you need to go to find it.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: It seems like a lot of people are jumping into this that maybe weren't into you collecting cards or these type of things. Do you think this will expand it? And do you think this will replace actual physical cards at some point?
JASON HOWARD: Two answers to that question. Yes, definitely will expand it. We've seen phenomenal growth in the trading card category over the last 18 to 24 months. Physical is here to stay.
The global marketplace offer for physical trading cards is extended incrementally. It's not an either or scenario at all. It's just another scenario.
LAJETHRO JENKINS: I appreciate you, Jason. I feel like I know so much more in what this 10, 15 minute conversation. I've read a few things prior. And it never really connected like that.
But I appreciate you. I mean, I think people that watch this will feel so much more comfortable now tapping in, participating with Panini and other things as well. So I appreciate you, man.
JASON HOWARD: No, absolutely. Happy to help. Love it.