UNICO, digital collectables on the Ethereum blockchain

Ecrit par| Innovation Time Lausanne

During the Blockchain Summit, many start-ups presented their project before the start of the competition won by Hugo Moreau and Paul Nicolet, two EPFL students, which earned them 100’000$. This event was a clear success as all booths were very popular, sometimes forcing us to wait for some time before being able to talk to project supervisors. However, we managed to interview Claudio Parrinello, CEO of UNICO.

If you are interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency related technologies but you don’t understand the basics, you can read refer to this introductory article.

Promoting rareness

Claudio Parrinello’s pitch during the Blockchain Summit à Zug

UNICO’s goal is to introduce authenticity and rareness in the digital world using limited editions. Claudio offered us more explanation on this concept: “Imagine you have a statue and want to use it to create a 3D model; we can limit its print to a 100 copies using the blockchain technology. To do that, we issue a fixed number licenses –containing special serial numbers– so that only the people who bought one can visualize your model on their computers”. In other words, they create a digital copy of an object and only distribute a limited number of copies.

The blockchain technology ensures these copies cannot be forged. “This gives a notion of property, exclusivity and durability”. This way, it is possible to prove the property of this object using smart-contracts and allow its safe trade. Claudio describes smart-contracts as “software allowing the execution of a contract without any human intervention, thus preventing any litigation as it is written without any ambiguity. This also prevents any manipulation or counterfeiting as it is directly deployed on the blockchain”. Thanks to its implementation of collection mechanisms –authenticity, property and rareness–, UNICO is partnered with companies in the fields of art, music and sports.

Promoting time

Is not so simple. As Claudio explained through a simple example, there is a second advantage offered by UNICO.  “In the world of stamp collectors, the value of a piece sometimes depends on the mark indicating the stamp was bought on a special day”. UNICO used this principle and transposed it to the digital world. “Suppose you are a big fan of Eminem. We can safely assume that you went to one of his concerts and filmed it. We can use a ‘digital stamp’ to prove you were really there at the mentioned date. This can be useful to increase the value of your collectable”. When the user downloads the app, he can see his collection, visualize the market or buy new collectables or trade objects. “The idea is to apply all of the collecting notions from the real world to the digital one, and I think we managed to do just that”.

How to buy

Claudio told us that the platform will soon accept payments in Ethereum, a cryptocurrency, along with payments using their own token. The latter will be issued during the upcoming ICO scheduled to take place in March 2018. This is possible because UNICO has already completed a preliminary round of funding –a Seed Crowdsale– on November, 30th. “You won’t have to buy our tokens to access our app, but owning them will make you a VIP collector giving you access –among other things– to presales”.

The decentralized technology of blockchain, a key factor of the project

As explained before, the blockchain is a key factor of the project because it is forgery-free. Another element inciting the start-up to use blockchain is its durability. “Decentralizing all the elements of a collectable object ensures its durability. Even though some companies mention their digital collectables, these are stored in centralized servers meaning that the bankruptcy of the company signs the end of the collection. Unlike these, our collectables can outlive the company”.

Michael Jackson on the blockchain!

 UNICO signed an agreement with a US-based art collector to publish his limited edition Michael Jackson piece as the first digital collectible artwork certified by the Ethereum blockchain. It is a high-definition picture of a 127 x 102 cm silkscreen painting called “The Book” drawn by Brett-Livingstone Strong, an Australian artist, in 1990. It is considered as the only portrait of Michael Jackson for which he posed.

The original portrait was sold in 1990 for a staggering 2’100’000$. Only a limited collection of numbered silkscreens co-signed by Jackson and Strong exists. UNICO will allow collectors to acquire one –or more– licenses to visualize the picture. These licenses are also a good long-run investment as they can be traded with other collectors once they have been bought.


Translated from French to English by Othman BENCHEKROUN

Last modified: 31 août 2020

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