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The Economist has announced that it is auctioning its 18 September cover on decentralised finance (DeFi) as a non-fungible token (NFT), to raise money for its independent charity The Economist Education Foundation.
The NFT, a unique, one-of-a-kind crypto asset, was created using Foundation, an NFT platform for digital artwork.
The cover, titled “Down the rabbit hole: The promise and perils or decentralised finance”, will be auctioned from 5pm on 25 October, and provisionally ends after 24 hours. It is open for anyone to bid.
It features the character Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” peering into the world of decentralised finance. All proceeds of the initial sale, minus any fees, transaction costs and taxes, will be donated to its charity TEEF, it said, which empowers young people to join discussions about the news.
NFTs enable collectors to authenticate, own and trade original authenticated versions of special digital goods using blockchain technology. They can be anything digital from drawings and paintings to music, but they can also be applied to a physical item such as coins or a stamp.
In economics, a fungible asset is something with units that can be readily interchanged, like money. You are able to swap a £10 note for two £5 notes and it will have the same value.
However, if something is non-fungible, it has unique properties so it cannot be interchanged with something else.
When an NFT is bought, the person purchasing receives a certificate secured in blockchain technology, which makes them the owner of that specific digital asset. Specifically, NFTs are typically held on the Ethereum (ETH-USD) blockchain, but other blockchains support them too.
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This cannot be replicated or substituted, and it can only have one official owner at any given time. NFTs are transparent and no one is able to modify the record of ownership or copy/paste a new NFT into existence.
Due to this unique quality the NFT market has become popular over recent years, drawing in a number of wealthy consumers since their creation in around 2014.
Alice Fulwood, finance correspondent for The Economist said: “The Economist regularly writes about new technologies and their potential to change the world. We described the potential for decentralised technology in our cover story of September 18th.
“By selling our ‘Down the rabbit hole’ cover as an NFT we are now, in our own small way, journeying down the rabbit hole ourselves, in a fun experiment that will hopefully also raise money for a worthwhile cause.”
The artwork for the cover image was commissioned from Justin Metz, a freelance visual artist based in Britain, in conjunction with Graeme James,The Economist's Cover Designer.
Metz regularly creates artwork that features on the cover of The Economist, as well as a range of other publications. The image is based on the original illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland drawn by Sir John Tenniel in 1865.