The Philippine freelancing community is one of the largest populations in Asia at 1.5M and the fastest growing globally at 208% YOY1. As the economy continues to develop, the Philippine workforce is becoming more creative in looking for revenue-generating opportunities, quickly adopting the technology world provides. One opportunity being currently explored are blockchain technologies, specifically innovations such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
As global NFT trading volume grew from 250M USD to 23B USD from 2020 to 2021, Filipinos have been riding the trend, with about 32% of Filipino internet users claim to own and trade NFT’s. As the Philippines quickly participates in this growing market, the Filipino freelancing market has been gradually affected by this shift, especially the following players: (1) designers and creators, (2) retail investors, (3) and game developers. For designers and creators, NFTs have decentralized artwork commercialization. For game developers, NFTs introduced better monetization through NFTs and in-game assets. Consequently, this affects retail investors by pushing the boundaries of financial return for in-game assets.
Decentralized artwork commercialization for designers and creators
Amongst crypto and blockchain enthusiasts, NFT artworks have evolved to become status symbols similar to real-world luxuries, comparable to designer bags and sportscars. On the other hand, among designers and creators, the opportunity to create NFTs have become very accessible. This increase in market value and accessibility has provided opportunities to creators that were only exclusive to brands or art organizations in the past.
According to Stephen Constiniano, founder of COF, a Filipino private investing vehicle for blockchain and web3, the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars was once only accessible to the well-funded and the well-connected; now, the highly talented and creative designers are also provided that opportunity.
Beeple, a digital artist, was able to increase the value of his work from US$100 art to US$69M NFTs. These digital artists can hold prestige comparable to those of modern-day painters and sculptors.
Promising investment mechanism for retail investors
NFT’s, through PTE games, have shown very promising financial return for their in-game assets for both casual and serious gamers as long as they put their time in playing the game. This is evident in certain communities in the Philippines who relied on these PTE games as their primary source of livelihood. It was famously reported that in the city of Cabanatuan, a community known for its rural agricultural activities and micro-transportation, hundreds have experienced their livelihood disrupted by the lockdown and have redirected their means to earning through PTE.
Investors have been creative with the monetization of PTE games mechanism by introducing the manager-scholar relationship; wherein the managers are the investors who buy the assets and the scholars are the casual gamers who would like to put in the time and play the games. Ian Sanchez, founder and CEO of Quest Gamers DAO, a Philippines-based Launchpad for NFT and PTE projects, further expounds that this introduces a shift in the norms of labor. Ian was previously the COO of FoodPanda Philippines and introduced the freelancing concept in the Philippines through their riders. He saw the pitfalls of a uniform set-up for their riders which he believes that the manager-scholar relationship disrupts. Managers and scholars enter into the engagement no longer as employer nor employees but as true partners; wherein ownership of all aspects of the business, such as assets, risk, and potential profit, is shared between the parties. This shared ownership changes the mindset and the lives of those in the manager-scholar relationship.
There have been notable organizations which have capitalized on the manager-scholar mechanism, growing their scholar base to thousands. There are various monetization plans which can possibly affect the presence of these large-scale organizations, such as better revenue schemes from PTE game developers, private sale inclusions, and token and asset airdrops. As a launchpad and small manager enabler, Quest Gamers DAO wishes to democratize access to these opportunities. With the Philippines being a global center for in-demand talent in the NFT and PTE space and early adoption of this new technology, Ian thinks Philippines will become the hotbed of web3 innovation which will change more Filipino's lives by meaningfully plugging in web3 whether thru PTE games, web3 jobs, investment, co-founding, building in this space.
Monetization of NFTs and in-game assets from game developers
Renz Chong, founder and CEO of BreederDAO, an a16z-backed Filipino startup, believes that monetization within games has already been there since the introduction of in-game purchases for premium content.
However, with NFTs, developers can further innovate ecosystems to set the rules of their own worlds and communally improve this over time, giving his own company as example.BreederDAO provides a mechanism for NFT creation through breeding and crafting. This is done by combining traits, materials, and skills of a player’s in-game assets to create better versions to increase competitiveness of their in-game assets. Their platform can basically cut the time to generate new assets by at least 50% and improves efficiency of asset production by 10-20%.
He continues to mention that these NFTs and games are borne out of the power and the belief of a community not limited by geopolitical borders and personal background. Both game development houses and freelancers have access to a global interest in funding, user reach, distribution and marketing, which can be exemplified by one of their recent activities of investing into a 26M USD round for Crypto Unicorns of Laguna Games. As this ecosystem grows and new ecosystems are being created, the space is readily open for new games to prosper, further incentivizing game developers to create new-generation games, assets, and creative content.
The future of NFT’s
Overall, these freelancers have been riding this wave according to Paolo Domingo, co-founder of Online Filipino Freelancers, a non-profit organization of 300,000 Filipino online freelancers spread across about 10 countries. Before 2020, he can attest that his community are aware of blockchain but close to none have a good understanding of NFTs. In a couple years since then, he shared that about 20% of his community are actively trading or creating NFTs. He even predicts that this number can practically triple within the next 3-5 years.
Currently, NFTs are still far from being mainstream. It is said that about 48.7% of adults in the Philippines still don’t know about NFTs. Stephen further notes that NFTs have yet to reach adoption into industries where NFTs can easily adapt into: asset ownership verification, fraud detection, credential verification, and the like. Paolo also sees that improvements in development platforms will naturally come in the future to support the growth in these in-demand skills in web3. In the same way software development IDE’s were created for computer programming, new development platforms will be created to further lessen the learning curve and appeal to more freelance talent into this space.
Renz finally says that “this industry, technology is still in its infancy, and it’s starting to walk”, starting with the adoption of NFTs and PTE games. We enter into a new age where individuals all over the world are provided a space to do whatever you want, be whoever you want, and you can use your creative outlets to deliver value. Whether you are a skilled designer who wants to have better control of your time, a computer programmer with a creative vision, or a casual investor who wants to earn on the next biggest thing, you get that option because of web3 and NFTs.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: ABE LOZADA
Abe Lozada is a Ventures and Investor Relationships Manager at Launchgarage.
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