Blockchain, NFTs and the future of luxury retail

Blockchain expert Max Kantelia shares his vision for virtual luxury retail and looks at the role blockchain and NFTs can play in preventing wine fraud

An element of wine fraud has always existed within in the wine industry. It’s not just the well-known and high-profile cases, such as Rudy Kurniawan, but it also exists at all levels especially given the significant increase in online sales during the pandemic.

Blockchain technology now offers a better solution than has ever existed before. Since the advent and incredible rise in usage of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), it has mainly been visible in the art world - notably with the sale of the first purely digital artwork at Christies in March for $69,346,250.

My belief is that while some of this may be a fad within the luxury goods market, there is also an excellent use case. The solution an NFT provides is the production of a digital certificate of ownership, which could also include photos or labels, and creates a digital item that provides complete proof of ownership. While this solution is good, it is also essential that we can also verify the physical product in a bid to connect the two. The journey towards ensuring both the physical provenance and digital ownership will lead to reduction in any illicit trade.

In my view, the emergence of this approach equates to being as important as the creation of the internet - and the potential of what it can become is very powerful.

We are increasingly living in a digital world so not only does this technology seek to protect wine and spirits but also opens up wine buying to new audiences and new channels to market. Millennials are more likely to become owners of NFTs, so it will connect with new consumers who are interested in wine and digital art.

I am currently working with the Zilliqa ecosystem to create and grow a metaverse for the rapidly growing NFT space, that is focused on creating digital products for luxury brands and enterprise clients who are seeking to develop new channels for hybrid digital and physical products. This digital representation of a luxury shopping mall provides luxury brands with the opportunity to create NFTs, which are sold alongside the physical item. We see a future where this is a step beyond online shopping, as you wander around a digital virtual reality store clicking on items for more information.

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