27 May 2022

Cartamundi’s Marco Van Haaften on why NFTs are “a prerequisite for success”

Marco Van Haaften is Global Licensing irector at Cartamundi. He’s participating in a panel called ‘Everything you need to know about Web 3.0’ alongside Lex Scott from Banijay Brands and Beanstalk’s Dave Tovey at the next European edition of Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, taking place 21 June, at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Tell us, who are you and how does your business fit into the licensing eco-system?

My name is Marco Van Haaften and I serve as the Global Licensing Director at Cartamundi, which is the worldwide leader in “play” solutions. I lead the corporate licensing team, managing a broad portfolio of international license agreements across the globe, from sports to characters and movies, to entertainment and music.

Here at Cartamundi, we promote “play” through our extensive global portfolio of (playing) card brands, while continuing to invest in manufacturing and innovation to bring new ideas to life. Cartamundi fits in the licensing eco-system as a licensee and the top manufacturer and partner of leading toy companies around the world. Additionally, Cartamundi is an innovator within the licensing space as it continues to dabble in the metaverse with a variety of projects under its belt.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for the licensing industry right now?

The NFT industry really took off in 2021, making it a very young industry with a lot of unknowns. What we do know is that the speed of the industry is different from any other industry we have seen. We are confident in the NFT space but are also aware that it is an industry that is constantly innovating and changing, making it difficult to create long-term plans.

Additionally, there is somewhat of a fear and timidness that exists around NFTs, especially within the licensing industry. Although this fear seems to be shrinking as NFTs become more mainstream, if you have a strong legal team surrounding you, NFTs can be a beneficial way to engage customers and ultimately prove ownership of property via the blockchain. Don’t be afraid to engage in discussion and ask questions about NFTs. The more we as licensing professionals talk about and understand NFTs, the better we can integrate them within our brands and help the consumers understand the advantages of NFTs in terms of ownership of assets and property.

As for opportunities go, they are endless. When we launched our NFT trading card site Hro, we wanted to make the platform user friendly with a very low barrier-to-entry. Prior to Hro, the typical NFT transaction involved many steps that can be difficult for the typical consumer to understand. To achieve mass adoption, the consumer journey must be simple and easy to follow. We must rethink NFTs as a prerequisite for success versus a trend. I believe that once we make NFTs and blockchain technology accessible and understandable to everyone, this is where the industry will really take off.

What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in your business sector that impact brands and retailers?

I’m seeing a lot more impactful engagement with consumers by NFT platforms. This is something that we strive to do at Hro, and it is so important to make sure you are engaging with your customers individually. We truly engage with the Hro community on a personal level, and this is something that we have seen great success with. By treating your community as your peers, your consumers will gain trust with your brand.

I also think one trend that is important for retailers to engage with is the idea of ownership within the blockchain. For instance, if I lose my phone and the initial transaction is recorded on the blockchain, I have proof of ownership over this asset. I think this is an important aspect of NFTs that many retailers tend to miss. NFTs aren’t just digital art but proof of ownership via the blockchain. This is something that could be incredibly valuable to consumers as brands continue to integrate this technology into their platforms and products.

For retailers, what one element of Web 3.0 is a must?

Despite the obvious achievements on Web 2.0, Web 3.0 is an important tool for retailers to adopt to gain data and trust from consumers. Knowing that about 74% of internet users in the U.S. are more concerned with their online privacy than ever before, it is important for retailers to regain this trust with their consumers. With Web 3.0, individual freedom as well as consumer privacy will be increasingly important for consumers and retailers alike

By utilising Web 3.0 technology, retailers will have more access to decentralised consumer data that was given to them on the consumer’s terms. This will ultimately create a mutually beneficial relationship built upon trust for both the consumer and the retailer.

Why are you looking forward to speaking at B&LIS?

So that I can share the success Cartamundi has seen as a result of integrating new technologies with the trusted, age-old business models. Delegates will take away the importance of embracing the digital transformation and the benefits for their business.


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