In recent years, the online world has seen incredible growth in the non-fungible token industry.
Also known as NFTs, the industry has become an extremely lucrative source of income for crypto investors all over the world.
NFTs worth staggering amounts of money, often in the millions, are traded via online marketplaces such as SuperRare and OpenSea all year round.
However, there seem to be some problems on the horizon in this costly industry. For almost two years now, NFT investors have seen some of their highest value NFTs disappear.
For obvious reasons, this is very concerning, especially for those that have invested big bucks.
The questions most people ask are, what happened? Was it an error? Was there an attack? Should I get out now?
These are all very relatable and fair questions that need answering. If they aren’t, could we potentially see many investors pulling their money out?
In today’s post, we’re going to look at why NFTs keep disappearing. We’ll also look at the potential solutions.
Let’s get started!
How Do NFTs Work?
Before we can truly understand why NFTs keep disappearing, we need to understand exactly how they work. NFTs can be almost anything. They usually range from short videos and jpegs to digital artwork.
The value of the NFT changes depending on how many people have an interest in it. When someone purchases an NFT, it isn’t a physical image or rights to an image they buy.
Instead, they are purchasing a digital code used to point the user in the direction of a media file located somewhere online.
When it comes to digital artworks, they aren’t registered or located on a blockchain.
When the NFT digital artwork is bought, the buyer receives a certificate or cryptographic signature or certificate that leads to where the image is hosted.
The actual item you buy could be found anywhere online. The NFT essentially serves as your own digital pass for internet access to the location where the file is stored.
The hope is that your NFT grabs the attention of others who then want to pay for the cryptographic signature. This is how the value rises.
How Do NFTs Disappear?
Now you know more about how NFTs work, let’s start looking at why they keep disappearing.
NFT marketplaces like Rarible, Nifty Gateway, OpenSea, and Foundation don’t store the NFT you decide to buy.
They simply display the file linked with the code on the blockchain. They are essentially more complex advertising platforms.
This link guides you to the NFT you’ve bought. If this media file is broken or deleted, you could quite easily lose access to your NFT.
It is believed that this is why some users find their NFTs disappearing. Experts believe that this occurs when a marketplace makes an error or even suppresses the media file.
Alongside the suppression of your NFT by the marketplace, your NFT could also be removed by the source. This is most likely to happen if the source violates the platform’s rules and regulations.
An example of this is copyright infringement. If this occurs, an NFT wouldn’t be displayed anywhere.
They could disappear if your NFT is issued in a standard that is unreadable too.
Finally, if the exchange that sells the NFT shuts down, all the files will be deleted.
What Happens If Your NFT Disappears?
If you consider yourself a keen investor in NFTs it is important to know what will happen if your NFT disappears.
While the whole situation is pretty awful, the one, and only saving grace is that realizing your NFTs have disappeared is quite easy.
Almost everyone who has seen their NFTs disappear has been greeted with the same message.
When they check their digital wallets, they are greeted with a message that says “This page has gone off-grid. We’ve got a 404 error and explored deep, but we couldn’t find the page you are looking for”.
Sadly, the actual reason for this message can be hard to identify.
You could have accidentally broken the terms and conditions, the NFT might not have been minted, or the reason behind the disappearance could be cryptic. Either way, getting your NFT back is difficult, if not impossible.
What’s The Solution?
So, how can the disappearance of NFTs be stopped?
Well, some NFT enthusiasts have come up with a few ideas that could prevent the disappearance of NFTs but nothing seems to have been put in place yet.
It is believed that InterPlanetary File System or IPFS could potentially solve the issue.
It is suggested that by using IPFS, multiple people can host one piece of content. This would see a huge decrease in the potential risk of NFTs disappearing in a decentralized system.
Instead of a source pointing to just one file or location, the IPFS will point to multiple copies of the file around the globe.
As a result, if an NFT disappears, it can easily be found via another source.
Some big hitters in the industry such as Beeple have already started using IPFS to mint their NFTs.
While there is no guarantee that this system could 100% guarantee that NFTs won’t go missing, it would seem that this is the next step the industry might take.
NFTs can disappear for a number of reasons. Whether it be the deleting of a file due to the breaking of terms of services or the shutting down of the exchange that sold the NFT, the disappearance of an NFT is an awful feeling.
In fact, if the problem isn’t solved, we could soon start to see some investors pulling their money out.
Thankfully, at the time of writing this post, the problem only affects a handful of users around the world and the NFT industry continues to boom.
Having said that, the issue still needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
With many NFT giants turning to IPFS for help, we wouldn’t be surprised if the problem is solved soon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!