Art media

Kasuku: Firm bets on NFTs to disrupt the art economy

Photos from one of the Kasuku NFT market galleries [File]

For Mowgli Dodhia, the caged parrot symbolizes the potential that African artists can unlock in the non-fungible token (NFT) trade.

“The bird is very beautiful but in a cage,” he says. “So how do you break the cage? »

Mr. Mowgli is the Founder and Managing Director of Kasuku, a platform that provides artists and musicians with a marketplace to sell their wares to a global audience via NFTs. NFTs are digital assets that can be bought, sold, or traded based on the value of the file they reference.

Assets can be in various media forms including images, songs, tweets or videos whose unique ownership is recorded on the blockchain and guaranteed by an NFT certificate. The recovery of NFTs dates back to 2014, but it was only after the Covid-19 pandemic that the trend became mainstream.

Millions of artists confined to their homes and deprived of income from live events have turned to the digital market to reach consumers. NFT trade has increased over the past year and the global market is worth billions of shillings.

Late last year, Kenyan marathon champion Kipchoge Keino auctioned off two videos of his career highlights for 4 million shillings in the first major NFT sale by a Kenyan.

According to Mowgli, technology adoption is still nascent in the region, and artists and musicians have a lot to gain from following suit today.

“On this side of the world, we always find ourselves catching up with new technologies,” he says.

“Coming artists find they have thousands of others to compete against in the global marketplace and the use of NFTs can level the playing field.”

Kasuku offers musicians and artists the opportunity to participate in the NFT market at low entry points.

One of the biggest challenges is the associated fees. Manufacturing NFTs can cost between $60 (Sh6,900) and $400 (Sh46,000) on major platforms, depending on the prescribed “gas” and “minting” fees.

Mowgli Dodhia, CEO of Kasuku NFT [File]

This is out of reach for many creatives and is one of the pain points that Mowgli’s Kasuku platform seeks to address with the usability of technology.

“The first thing we will do differently is affordability,” says Mowgli.

“It’s going to be extremely affordable and we’ll have a fully integrated wallet so it’s no different than logging in to Facebook, for example.”

Kasuku also promises to give its users the benefit of making their work more accessible to potential consumers.

“The platform will give artists the ability to geo-stamp their work,” says Mowgli.

“At this time, you cannot filter art purchases by country on existing NFT marketplaces,” he adds.

Artists will also have the opportunity to advertise on the platform where advertising slots of up to one hour per day will be sold to artists who wish to be featured on Kasuku’s homepage. Mowgli also said the platform addresses systemic challenges in the music and arts industry that are responsible for shrinking creators’ margins and driving up the retail cost of products.

“There are many barriers in the music industry, for example, that undermine musicians’ ability to earn well from their work, such as gatekeeping, corruption, and piracy,” he explains. .

“NFTs are the perfect solution to these challenges, and as Kasuku, we will only charge 2.5% commission, while artists will get 97.5% of the money,” Mowgli said.

The platform also offers art industry intermediaries, such as gallery owners, the ability to own digital stores on Kasuku and lists inventory where users can take virtual tours and make purchases. Kasuku recently held a contest on social media to establish a waiting list where more than 3,000 artists from 40 countries signed up.

A total of 100 artists have been selected to receive free mints for the first NFT exchanges on the platform which are expected to begin next month.

“For us, it enhances what blockchain is; transparency, immutability,” says Mowgli.

“We also don’t want to create a market exclusively for Kenya because it’s not very useful. It’s about proving that here in Kenya, we can push the boundaries of technology. We did it with M-Pesa, but since then we’ve been slacking off.