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We are all going public: Privacy rules, tax shelters and the future history of art

Published 02/20/2022, 09:13 AM
Updated 02/20/2022, 11:00 AM

After a banner year of 2021 for individual object sales through nonfungible tokens (NFTs), 2022 is poised to be the year of MetaFi. A recap of Beeple, Christie’s, Visa (NYSE:V) and endless aping-in celebrities hardly feels necessary, except to point out that we seem to be standing on (or perhaps have already crossed over) a fundamental precipice. While the rocket-propelled ascent of NFT prices will not continue forever, numerous voices have predicted that a mature tech stack for discovering, vetting, valuing, trading and protecting collections of digital assets will soon emerge, without a crash.

But these optimistic takes may even be selling the area short. Namely, the premise of the “NFT-Fi” sector is to create value through liquidity, but it has remained an unstated assumption that this liquidity would be confined fundamentally to the world of crypto itself. While it is still early days, those boundaries may be eroding, and we may all need to open our meta-apertures even wider. In this regard, Switzerland stands out among numerous countries that have only started to pilot experiments with central bank-backed digital currencies (CBDCs). The confederacy of cantons, home to both Davos and Art Basel, is known for its rich history of innovation in both creative and financial assets, and its moves are worth tracking closely.

Michael Maizels, an art historian by training, is a technology researcher with Pilot44, a boutique innovation consulting firm in San Francisco, and is also affiliated with the metaLAB, a think tank and creative design studio at Harvard University. His new book on financial innovation in modern art history will be out from the University of Michigan in September.
Adam Au is an attorney and international data privacy expert based in Hong Kong. He is currently general counsel & company secretary of a public health company, and is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post on topics at the intersection of technology and international law. He holds an economics degree from Brown, a law degree from Oxford and an MBA from MIT Sloan.

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