Boson Protocol and the Future of eCommerce

boson mobile
Boson Protocol

“Imagine replacing Amazon and Ali Baba and all of those intermediaries with one network—like the S.W.I.F.T. network— for commerce,” Justin Banon, co-founder of Boson Protocol, tells me early in our conversation about about the platform—which is essentially demonstrating the next evolution of NFT smart contract technology. Rather than only using the tech to record the exchange of digital assets, Banon and Boson are revealing how the tech can be tied to physical assets as well; theoretically (and in practice), a contract can be programmed in an almost limitless way, thus the concept of using the contracts to document ownership of something both physical and digital at once seems like a natural next step.

I spoke to Justin hot off Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland, a series of shows and event that could not have come to fruition if it wasn’t for the contributions of Boson. Boson’s tech was key in setting up stores within their Boson Portal, which allowed users to buy assets that came with a digital wearable and the potential of a physical item. For example, the Tommy Hilfiger store allowed users to buy a piece of Tommy garb that came in both formats.

Tommy Hilfiger at Boson Portal
Boson Protocol

The Boson Protocol

Justin founded Boson back in 2019, during a crypto winter that Banon describes as plagued by skepticism. “A lot of people were like, this thing isn’t gonna happen,” he tells me. Fast forward to 2022 when his tech is being used to onboard names like Tommy Hilfiger into the space: “I feel like I’m hallucinating that suddenly everyone wants to build in web3.” Since 2019, the NFT marketplace has certainly seen some peaks and valleys. “There’s good and there’s bad, so when it’s good, it’s vindicating and it’s fun,” he describes the current moment.

The Possibilities of the Future

The reason why the technology is so exciting is because of how malleable and programmable the contracts can become. For example, you could—down the line—limit sales of a certain physical item to only those who possess a certain NFT in their wallet. The inverse is also possible. “All this token gating and programmability is native to the protocol,” Justin explains. Right now, they are using V1 of the Boson Protocol, but V2 is expected to launch some time this summer.

“All of this sort of programmability that we find with NFTs is coming to commerce,” Justin elaborates. Right now, in the NFT landscape, we’re accustomed to token-gated drops. But that same notion could be extrapolated to commerce writ large as a transition towards smart contracts unfolds. Justin envisions a future in which all luxury retail—and retail generally, for that matter—can incorporate a dual-asset system. “You’re going to feel short changed when you buy a $5000 handbag without the NFT,” he says, going on to imagine a future in which our purchases toe the line between physical and digital, existing as wearables in the metaverse (or simply as digital assets) and a physical item.

The dawning of the phygital asset is upon us. 

He poses a hypothetical: “Imagine you go to a designer store, and there’s a physical item there that you can’t buy. You have to do something in the metaverse, then you activate a bundle NFT that unlocks a digital wearable, experiences and the physical item.” And with an explosive interest in the space coming from the traditional fashion world in recent months, this hypothetical seems not too distant.

“Big brands want to get into this because they know it’s the future,” Justin explains, adding: “It’s become a hygiene factor. Brands have to do it.” They have a few projects in the works with some brands—which can’t be disclosed now—but the success of Metaverse Fashion Week is a pseudo-guinea pig of the future world of fashion and commerce blurring the lines between real and digital. 

This summer is going to be the summer of phygitals.

- Justin Banon, Co-Founder of Boson Protocol

Using the technology to document ownership of PFP jpegs has made up the majority of the conversation around NFTs throughout 2021 and 2022. But Boson Protocol—and numerous other innovations—are demonstrating the limitless potential of the contracts.

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