When Jackson Aw was introduced to blockchain technology in 2018, he “didn’t get it at all.”
“Can someone make it even easier for me? For example, can you just tell me what I can get as a consumer?”
It was four years ago. Today, Aw, seems to have the answer to this question.
The 32-year-old Singaporean, who runs Mighty Jaxx – a multimillion-dollar toy company that produces collectibles and lifestyle products – has integrated blockchain into its products.
A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records every transaction made. Nor can it be altered or modified retroactively.
CNBC Make It finds out why it “makes sense” for the collectibles empire to leverage blockchain capabilities and bet on the metaverse.
Mighty Jaxx, which was founded in 2012, has partnered with some of the biggest global brands and visual artistsproducing on-trend collectibles that incorporate pop culture and design.
Aw said the company has since sold millions of collectible toys to people in more than 80 countries.
Mighty Jaxx’s limited-edition collectibles can fetch up to $1,200 on its website, but in the secondary market they can fetch “five to ten times” more than their original value, Aw said.
But there is a problem.
“When you want to sell the product, the number one question everywhere is ‘Is it genuine?'”
Aw added, “For collectibles, [sellers] do is they take pictures of the figurine and post it on Facebook groups, asking people to do an authenticity check.”
However, Aw was not satisfied with this method of authentication.
“Who is he talking about? Where is he from? So we thought, okay, this is what we need.”
Mighty Jaxx designed a near-field communication chip and built one into every toy. NFC technology enables short-range wireless communication between two devices.
“With our app you can [scan the chip]register your ownership of the item [to show] it’s a genuine Mighty Jaxx product,” Aw said.
Powered by blockchain, the platform issues and validates unique, tamper-proof certificates for each product. It also provides a digital fingerprint when ownership of an item changes.
“If Jay Chou or JJ Lin owned this figure before you, it’s definitely a lot more valuable than me,” Aw jokes. Jay Chou and JJ Lin are popular Mandarin pop singers.
Providing trusted authentication through blockchain technology is just “the beginning” for Mighty Jaxx.
A “phygital” advantage
With the market for non-fungible tokens seeing explosive growth in 2021, Aw said that was when there was “a culture shift as we knew it.”
“[Being] artists and creators in general… has always been more of a service job. But now it has changed. Now content and intellectual property are key, because without any of that [visual] representation, this technology does nothing,” Aw explained.
“Nothing speaks louder than visual form.”
NFTs are crypto-based digital assets that also function as collectibles – something Mighty Jaxx is no stranger to.
Therefore, it “makes sense” for Aw to venture into space, giving fans exclusive digital experiences with physical collectibles.
“When you buy our NFTs, you have access and the ability to buy the physical manifestation of it in that design. So only that group of people could buy that figure,” Aw said.
“Because they are the only ones who can do this and they can combine the two asset classes, it generates even more value for them.”
Aw believes this is Mighty Jaxx’s “phygital” advantage over its competition – being able to offer both digital and physical assets.
“The fact that we create digital assets before we produce the physical toys…means we can get to market faster too,” he added.
“I can’t think of, you know, 10 other companies doing this around the world, just because the work that goes into creating a material or a [physical] to collect is naturally just a steeper learning curve.”
In 2021, Mighty Jaxx launched their first NFT trading card collection, featuring cats that look like Chinese food, dim sum.
“We threw 6,000 units, in…two seconds, they just ran out,” Aw said.
Mighty Jaxx got his big break with DC Comics by scoring a licensing partnership in 2015, allowing it to “makeover” creative intellectual property.
Since then, he’s partnered with big-name brands to reach fandoms around the world, from Adidas, Hasbro and Nickelodeon, to Formula 1, Sesame Street and Netflix.
Aw says “there’s still a lot of work to do,” with plans to expand his IP collaborations into the metaverse as well.
The Metaverse is a collection of virtual worlds where people live, work, and play.