What’s behind the hexagon-shaped profile pictures on Twitter?

Photo By Harshad Jadhav

A dive into NFTs and its applications.

By Harshad Jadhav

January 28, 2022

Twitter released a new feature of NFT (non-fungible tokens) profile pictures which will have a soft-hexagonal shape instead of a circular shape allowing users to show the digital items they purchased in NFT form, last Thursday.

Marking its support to NFTs, the social media giant released this feature to its iOS users subscribed to the Twitter Blu service. “A monthly subscription that gives our most loyal customers exclusive access to premium features and app customizations for a small fee,” states the Twitter Help Center website. This service is available for iOS, Android and web in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The subscription fee is $2.99 per month.

Reacting to this, one Twitter user said, “honored to be a part of this! (handshake emoji),” while, on the contrary, another user tweeted, “Hey Twitter! Instead of implementing NFT profile pics like a loser, can you add pronouns that appear beside our usernames?” Tweetians are reacting to this feature in various ways on Twitter. But it is crucial to understand the full potential of NFTs. Digital art is just one way of using them.

NFTs are a type of cryptographic tokens that can represent ownership of unique and digital goods such as arts or collectibles. In other words, these digital goods are unique and therefore cannot be interchanged. For instance, a $100 note can be exchanged for another one and it will make no difference, making it fungible. On the other hand, a painting or one-of-a-kind trading card is non-fungible. General properties for NFTs include uniqueness, provably scarce and indivisibility, i.e., they are distinguished, limited and cannot be split (not transferrable or sold as a fraction). These NFTs have distinct features that are limited in quantity which can be verified and cannot be split (cannot be transferred or bought as a fraction).

NFTs provide authenticity of the owner, security and are easily transferable. Their applications vary on a large scale, such as in online games like CryptoKitties, Gods Unchained and Decentraland. Marketplaces of digital arts also exist like Rarible, SuperRare and OpenSea. Unstoppable Domains and ENS: Ethereum Name Service are examples of NFT domain name services, where you can buy domains with .crypto and .eth extensions, respectively.

NFTs in Decentralized Finance or DeFi can unlock even more applications such as using the NFT art, digital land or tokenized real estate, where the token is tied to a physical asset as collateral to borrow money. They can also represent more complex financial products like insurance, bonds and options. Yinsure is one such example of the insurance sector.

NFTs have exploded to an astonishing $44.2 billion market in 2021, according to Chainalysis, a blockchain data company, and as per their latest report. NFTs are getting closer to the traditional art market of people buying and selling physical work, according to Insider. The sales of conventional arts and antiques reached $50 billion in 2020, a decline from the previous year, partly due to the global pandemic.

Not only Twitter but, according to a report, Meta’s social media companies, Facebook and Instagram, are planning to get into NFTs too. Furthermore, Reddit, an American social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website, is testing to set NFTs, owned by users, as their profile picture.

WazirX founder and CEO, Nischal Shetty, said in a tweet, “#NFT as a profile pic is going to be standard across all platforms. The sooner the better, as platforms will be able to attract the web3 crowd Flexed (biceps emoji),” replying to Twitter’s official announcement tweet of NFT profile picture.