“Insider trading happens daily. But it’s easy to detect on blockchains!”

  • Bruno Škvorc (pronounced sh-quarz) is the founder of RMRK (pronounced remark).
  • Previously an ETH2.0 developer and a member of the Web3 foundation, his team developed extensible NFTs on Kusama.
  • Crowdfunded and now with groundbreaking version 2.0, RMRK is just getting started.

From CryptoKitties to reinventing NFTs

Located in Croatia, Bruno authors an informative newsletter on NFTs and Web3 that you can subscribe to here. His crowdcasts about RMRK received widespread attention and illustrate its potential in an easy-to-understand fashion. You can see the September 2021 version here. Starting as a solo founder and developer, in September 2020, he and his team delivered RMRK spec 1.0 and 2.0, built an NFT marketplace at Singular and launched a flagship project with Kanaria. Mr. Škvorc took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Numbrs about his enterprise, all things NFT, blockchain and the metaverse.

Interview

Question 1: Let’s dive in at the deep end: On 6 August you tweeted: ‘Collectibles and tickets are obvious, sure, but if you take NFTs a little bit further than movies and images, you end up with a wonderfully composable world of NFT legos. It becomes obvious that you can kick a LOT of middlemen out of your life. For example a utility bill can be an NFT. Paying it can be an NFT itself, which is sent into the utility bill as proof of payment. This is possible with RMRK’s nested NFTs.’ Is this the tokenization of everything?

Answer 1: Tokenization is just a word that gets thrown around here. NFTs represent custom data sets with cryptographical proof. So, yes, NFTs can represent a lot of different things. Using general-purpose blockchains like Kusama or Ethereum has the advantage of using a proven, transparent technology stack.

Question 2: So what needs to happen technically to enable that? And what about on a societal level?

Answer 2: For a lot of use cases, you still need government support. If you want to transfer ownership of a house via an NFT, you still need a notary that will accept that proof and transfer that information into the government's ledger. We found a notary for a test case once. But the actual transfer of a title doesn’t take place on a blockchain yet.

So the big challenge is not technical. There are UX challenges, where it’s still hard for new users to interact with blockchains, and there are massive educational challenges. Especially the latter will take many more years to develop. The technical challenges will be solved much quicker.

Numbrs: Basically the government agencies would have to say: Please send a fax or an NFT.

BŠ: Haha, yes...

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Insider trading happens daily. But it’s easy to detect on blockchains!

Answer 3: I was very involved in the whole CryptoKitties movement. Really into the whole thing. But then that died and I drifted away from NFTs. I was a developer working on ETH2.0 and then became a member of the Web3 foundation, working on Kusama and Polkadot.

I noticed a resurgence of the NFT mania in the second half of 2020, around July to August, and realised that nothing had really changed since CryptoKitties. I was really bored out of my mind with the projects I saw. There was a distinct lack of imagination.

Kusama was always very art-focused, and it felt very natural to have NFTs there. So I thought about how NFTs could be built on a chain that didn’t have smart contracts. I started working on the RMRK spec alone and in September 2020 I had the first version. At first it was just me, and in January 2021 we formed a team of four. By now we are seven and we’ll add three more members in October, bringing the team size to ten.

At the start of 2021, we sold Kanaria eggs as a fundraise. We didn’t have a token at first and only introduced it (the RMRK token) later, during the sale. 100% of the tokens go to egg holders. Since we sold 89% of the eggs, 11% are left. We’ll put 5% on exchanges for liquidity and will keep the other half for the team.

Question 4: RMRK offers extensible NFTs. The functionality can be expanded later on. With ERC721 or ERC1155 that’s not possible. How does RMRK do that? Is it an advantage not to have smart contracts?

Answer 4: In a way, yes. The spec of RMRK offers the possibility of extending functionality at any point in time. This will extend the life of NFTs big time. Singular (RMRKs marketplace) will be able to display all the features by working through the roles associated with an NFT. But for some use cases the UI will still be better on custom-built front ends.

For instance we’re building a podcast-attribution NFT platform. You will be able to publish podcasts as an NFT and then mint sound bites or snippets from the podcast as offspring NFTs. That will protect against deep fakes. Now the mining of slices will not display as nicely on Singular as it will on the custom UI. This will be better on the website of the project.

Question 5: Can you provide some alpha for investors? What should one watch out for? What comes after 10k PFP JPEGs? Actual art?

Answer 5: (laughs). Actual art? Probably not. Ethereum is going to be stuck in 10k land for a while. Interactions with NFTs are just too costly at current gas prices. On a macro level, the most advanced software in the world are video games. That’s just a fact. And they’ll take up NFTs, big time. One great project here is Andre Cronje’s Rarity, built on Fantom. They develop like crazy and it's going pretty well.

Question 6: Like we saw with Axie Infinity’s astounding success. But if a game world the size of World of Warcraft would interact with NFTs on Kusama, wouldn’t the gas fees skyrocket there too?

Answer 6: Yes, but that depends 100% on the implementation. It will never make sense to save a game’s state on a blockchain. Too many transactions and too slow. Imagine waiting for 2 blocks until your character moves in the game, because you need two confirmations first.

No one would play that game. So blockchains are good to save occasional snapshots that can be referenced.

RMRK allows interaction between NFTs, and between users and NFTs, so there are more possibilities for collaboration and you can extend the life cycle of NFTs later on very organically.

Question 7: Talking about blockchains in general: September (2021) saw a 17-hour Solana outage, an Arbitrum outage, and an OpenSea employee front-running the site’s clients… Does the crypto industry need to grow up?

Answer 7: What we actually saw is how easy these things are to detect on blockchains. Front-running and insider trading happen every day in the financial world, and usually no one notices. You can’t detect it. AWS, powering 70% of the internet, also goes down for hours occasionally. But with crypto, this is easy to detect and causes massive outrage. I mean, come on, nothing here is special. It’s actually much more transparent. That’s an advantage. I don’t think it needs to grow up. Adoption is the key. We need more widespread adoption.

Question 8: What’s your favorite blockchain and why Kusama?

Answer 8: (chuckles) Kusama is fun, it’s connecting multiple chains. Everything deployed on KSM can be deployed on any other chain connecting to it. That’s what makes me really excited about RMRKs future.

Ethereum is certainly the most decentralised of all the blockchains. For me it’s Ethereum and Kusama.

Question 9: A fantasy question last. What would Planet RMRK look like?

Answer 9: That’s a good question and we’re going to release our plans for the metaverse soon. That’s going to be very exciting. RMRK NFTs are all compatible with each other and users are going to build amazing things together.

Numbrs: You demonstrated a virtual billboard in the metaverse that could be rented out displaying NFTs of brands as a simple example. Mind blowing. Thank you for your time.

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