Speculative NFTs are out, making room for the new wave of utility-based digital collectibles

By Anastasia Samaras

The once-booming world of speculative NFTs, which saw celebrities and artists flocking to the digital realm followed by eager buyers hoping to make it big, is now facing a harsh reality: the vast majority of these NFTs have been declared virtually worthless by a dappGambl report.

This doesn’t come as a shock to the Upstream team. Ever since our NFT marketplace launched, our methodology has always rejected this volatile craze fueling the initial wave of NFTs.

Instead, we believe in the value the technology offers. Digital ownership in an increasingly digital world offers the ability to create shared, exclusive experiences within communities and subcommunities, timestamp key events and moments in an immutable way, and even break new ground in Metaverses down the line.

Upstream’s unique digital collectible integrations have remained at the forefront of innovation with its unwavering commitment to fan engagement and utility-based NFTs.

The rise and fall of speculative NFTs

Speculative NFTs were hailed as the newest tech sensation, drawing in high-profile names and buyers. Everywhere you turned there were headlines of overnight success stories, digital art being sold for millions, and Twitter/X profile pictures being changed to NFT avatars. To be fair, it was arguably the greatest instance of blockchain technology becoming mainstream and expanding outside the general crypto bubble.

This initial rise in speculative NFT interest died down. Factors like market oversaturation, environmental concerns, the crypto winter, and speculative risks have contributed to the decrease initial in popularity.

Now, a recent report from dappGambl, reviewing NFT Scan and CoinMarketCap, shows that a staggering 95% of NFT collections, or 69,795 out of 73,257, have a market cap of 0 Ether.

What now?

So are NFTs dead?

Looking at its use case as a speculative investment vehicles, yes. Looking at its use case as a form of fan engagement and utility, absolutely not.

In contrast to the speculative frenzy, Upstream has always advocated for NFTs as a means of fan engagement rather than a speculative ride. NFTs act as merchandise or collectibles with an immutable record of ownership. This opens the door to many creative campaigns for brands, personal brands, sports teams, or other type of organizations.

NFTs introduce scarcity, turning regular rewards, events, and historical memorabilia into sought-after collectibles. NFTs on Upstream also come with a user-friendly trading app to unlock new interactions and conversations between fans or consumers. Digital collectibles also introduce gamification where there may not have been. Picture a time-sensitive drop of digital collectible vouchers at an event that drives users to purchase a physical item, then keep the collectible as a keepsake. Picture a non-transferable proof of membership card to hold in a digital wallet with a few exclusive offers on top of their existing membership. The possibilities are endless.

Upstream’s unique NFT integrations foster the ability to generate utility-based NFTs to create immersive Web3 experiences, fostering deeper connections between brands, celebrities, and their fans. These NFT campaigns extend beyond the virtual realm, offering tangible elements such as exclusive items and experiences. This approach brings authenticity and real-world value to NFTs, ensuring that they serve a genuine purpose.

Here’s what’s coming?

Out with the old in with the new; here’s how some forward-thinking companies are embracing the potential of NFTs in new and exciting ways. Here are just a few recent ones.

  • American Express has introduced Member Collectibles, allowing Card Members to commemorate cherished events and experiences with free digital collectibles. This program offers a fresh way for members and potential new customers to engage with American Express, where collecting these unique digital mementos unlocks exclusive Amex Offers.
  • Lufthansa Innovation Hub and Miles & More are taking air travel to a new level of excitement with the introduction of the Uptrip app. This innovative program allows passengers of Lufthansa Group Airlines to transform their boarding passes into NFT trading cards, creating an engaging and thrilling collecting experience. Uptrip not only integrates cutting-edge Web3 technologies into the loyalty program but also incorporates elements of gamification and entertainment, making the card collection process genuinely exhilarating.
  • Diesel teamed up with Hape to create a collection of NFTs that promises fashion and Web3 enthusiasts a blend of digital, physical, and real-world utility. Among the exclusive offerings is a limited edition of the iconic 1DR POD crossbody bag. Beyond the tangible benefits, buyers gain access to a world of exclusive events and community perks, adding a social dimension to this unique NFT experience.

From digital mementos and loyalty programs to unique NFT collections, these companies are demonstrating the versatility and real-world utility of NFTs.


As pioneers in blockchain-powered and NFT trading, Upstream’s mission is to unlock the full potential of NFTs for everyone. Our user-friendly trading app simplifies the entire process, allowing users to create, purchase, and trade NFTs effortlessly.

While the speculative NFT market faces uncertainty, Upstream remains a beacon of stability with its focus on utility-based NFTs and genuine fan engagement. As the NFT landscape continues to evolve, Upstream stands ready to empower users and redefine the future of digital assets.

Curious brands can reach Upstream at hello@upstream.exchange. Visit upstream.exchange to learn more.


This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell securities or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation is not permitted.

NFTs have no royalties, equity ownership, or dividends. NFTs are for utility, collection, redemption, or display purposes only. Anyone may buy and sell NFTs on Upstream.

* U.S. or Canadian-based citizens or permanent residents may only deposit, buy, or sell securities on Upstream after being introduced by a licensed broker-dealer. A list of licensed broker-dealers can be found on the Upstream Support Center. Note that U.S. or Canadian-based investors include those U.S. or Canadian citizens who may be domiciled overseas. All orders for sale are non-solicited by Upstream and a user’s decision to trade securities must be based on their own investment judgement. Anyone may buy and sell NFTs on Upstream.

Upstream is a MERJ Exchange market. MERJ Exchange is a licensed Securities Exchange, an affiliate of the World Federation of Exchanges, a National Numbering Agency and member of ANNA. MERJ is regulated in the Seychelles by the Financial Services Authority Seychelles, https://fsaseychelles.sc/ an associate member of the International Association of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). MERJ supports global issuers of traditional and digital securities through the entire asset life cycle from issuance to trading, clearing, settlement, and registry. It operates a fair and transparent marketplace in line with international best practices and principles of operations of financial markets. Upstream does not endorse or recommend any public or private securities bought or sold on its app. Upstream does not offer investment advice or recommendations of any kind. All services offered by Upstream are intended for self-directed clients who make their own investment decisions without aid or assistance from Upstream. All customers are subject to the rules and regulations of their jurisdiction. By accessing the site or app, you agreed to be bound by its terms of use and privacy policy. Company and security listings on Upstream are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with speculative investments, often in early and development stage companies. There can be no assurance the valuation of any particular company’s securities is accurate or in agreement with the market or industry comparative valuations. Investors must be able to afford market volatility and afford the loss of their investment. Companies listed on Upstream are subject to significant ongoing corporate obligations including, but not limited to disclosure, filings, and notification requirements, as well as compliance with applicable quantitative and qualitative listing standards.

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