When Jackson Aw was introduced to blockchain technology in 2018, “he didn’t get it at all.”
“Can someone break it down further for me? For example, can you tell me what I can get as a consumer?”
That was four years ago. Today, Aw seems to have the answer to that question.
The 32-year-old Singaporean who runs Mighty Jaxx — a multi-million dollar toy company that makes collectibles and lifestyle products — has integrated blockchain into his products.
A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records every transaction that has taken place. It also cannot be manipulated or subsequently changed.
CNBC Make It finds out why leveraging blockchain capabilities and betting on the metaverse makes “sense” for the collecting empire.
Founded in 2012, Mighty Jaxx collaborates with some of the biggest global brands and visual artists to produce on-trend collectibles that integrate pop culture and design.
Aw said the company has since sold millions of toy collectibles to people in more than 80 countries.
Mighty Jaxx’s limited-edition collectibles can go for as much as $1,200 on its website, but they can fetch “five to 10 times” their original value on the secondary market, Aw said.
But there is a problem.
“If you want to sell the product, the number one question everywhere is, ‘Is it authentic?'”
Aw added: “For collectibles huh [sellers] do is they take pictures of the character and post them on Facebook groups to ask people to do an authenticity check.”
However, Aw was not satisfied with this authentication method.
“Whose word is it on? Where is the origin of this? So we thought, okay, that’s what we need.”
Mighty Jaxx designed a near-field communications chip and embedded one in each toy. NFC technology enables wireless communication over short distances between two devices.
“It is possible with our app [scan the chip]register your ownership of the item [to show] it’s an authentic Mighty Jaxx product,” said Aw.
Powered by blockchain, the platform issues and validates unique, tamper-proof certificates for each product. It also provides a digital footprint when ownership of an item changes.
“If Jay Chou or JJ Lin owned this character before you did, that’s definitely more valuable than me owning it,” jokes Aw. Jay Chou and JJ Lin are popular Mandarin pop singers.
Providing reliable authentication through blockchain technology is just “the beginning” for Mighty Jaxx.
A ‘phygital’ edge
As the non-fungible token market witnessed explosive growth in 2021, Aw said that was when there was “a culture shift as we’ve known it.”
“[Being] Artists and creators in general… has always been more of a service-oriented work. But now it worked. Now content and intellectual property are key, because without all of that [visual] Representation, this technology doesn’t do anything,” Aw explained.
“Nothing speaks louder than visual form.”
NFTs are crypto-based digital assets that also work like collectibles – something Mighty Jaxx is no stranger to.
So it “makes sense” that Aw would venture into space by offering fans exclusive digital experiences with physical collectibles.
“When you purchase our NFTs you get access and the opportunity to purchase the physical manifestation of it in this design. Only this group of people can buy this character,” said Aw.
“Because only they could do it and they can combine both asset classes together, it generates even more value for them.”
Aw believes this is Mighty Jaxx’s “phygital” advantage over its peers — being able to offer both digital and physical assets.
“The fact that we create digital assets before we produce the physical toy…means we can get to market faster, too,” he added.
“I can’t imagine 10 other companies doing that around the world simply because the work that goes into developing a piece of hardware or a [physical] Collectible, it’s just a steeper learning curve of course.”
In 2021, Mighty Jaxx launched its first collection of NFT trading cards, featuring cats that look like Chinese cuisine dim sum.
“We launched 6,000 units, within … two seconds they just sold out,” Aw said.
Mighty Jaxx made his big break with DC Comics by entering into a licensing partnership in 2015 that allowed him to redesign the creative intellectual property.
Since then it has partnered with renowned brands to reach fans around the world, from Adidas, Hasbro and Nickelodeon to Formula 1, Sesame Street and Netflix.
Aw says “there’s still work to be done” and plans to expand its IP collaborations to the Metaverse as well.
The Metaverse is a series of virtual worlds where people live, work, and play.