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Courtyard: Bringing Billions of Dollars of Physical Collectibles On-Chain

Emanuel Coen

2 months ago ·

6 min read

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Driven by a San Francisco based team of six people who used to work at YouTube, Apple & Google, Courtyard has set sail to conquer the open Web3 seas with the mission to offer physical collectibles on the blockchain.

Wait, physical collectibles on the digital blockchain? Aren’t we going full circle here? It might look so at first glance but NFT’s were never only about static digital pictures of Bored Ape’s and Punks. As we have written before NFT’s are simply a data structure allowing to record ownership on the most secure, globally available and programmable ledger in the world. Of course NFT’s were going to find their way into music, filmmaking, photography, writing, collectibles and every other sector of the creator and ownership economy.

Courtyard for its part has set its eyes on the billions of dollars people spend on physical collectibles every year. It has built an infrastructure to securely tokenize physical collectibles like cards, sneakers, watches and more into NFTs. The NFT acts as a digital 3D model of the underlying physical object that is safely stored by Courtyard’s partner Brink's, a world leader in secure transportation and storage of valuable assets.

As NFT’s these collectibles become instantly tradeable on-chain 24-7 around the globe. And it unleashes a ton of use cases. Other developers can come and integrate these collectibles in Metaverses and gaming experiences, DeFi protocols can issue loans against high-value pokemon or magic cards and young teenagers can make their dream come true and buy a fraction of Rolex NFT via a protocol like Fractional. The bottom line is that a physical collectible receives new superpowers once it is turned into a digital NFT.

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How does Courtyard work?

When you mint a Courtyard NFT or buy one on OpeSea you receive an NFT that essentially represents ownership over the physical collectible and gives you the right to redeem it at any time by burning your NFT. As a holder of a Courtyard NFT you have several options.

  • Trade their physically backed NFT’s on any Polygon compatible marketplace (e.g Opense)

  • Burn their NFT on Courtyard’s platform to redeem the underlying asset. Pending KYC, Courtyard ships corresponding collectibles globally

  • Display their valued collection in the Metaverse as NFTs and connect with other collectors

If you want to redeem your NFT for the underlying physical collectible you’ll need to burn it through Courtyard’s redemption page and the item will be shipped to a location near you (150 countries as of now). For this purpose, Courtyard has partnered with Brink’s, a world leader in secure transportation and storage of valuable assets with locations in over 150 countries.

This means Courtyard can truly serve the globalized Web3 customer base and guarantee that valuable collectibles are handled with utmost care. How long the shipment process takes after a user initiates the redemption remains unclear at this point as the redemption phase is to start next week.

One big concern for users of course is authenticity. How can you trust Courtyard that the physical collectibles are authentic and in good condition? In its documentation Courtyard claims it only sources the item from established dealers in the industry that have operated for many years in the field.

For their first drop, a batch of 800 Pokemon cards, it relied on the famous Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) Association grading system. All cards have a bar code that allows users to verify authenticity against PSA’s database.

Back to School Drop

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The Back To School Genesis Drop is Courtyard’s first NFT collection and also the first of its kind. According to their own website, Courtyard has chosen trading cards for their first drop in order to best manage storage and handling of the collectibles.

The collection features 800 unique NFTs modeled after real Pokemon cards that are physically stored by Brink’s in a secure location. All 800 cards are authenticated by Professional Sports Authenticator, PSA for short, a major authenticator of sports and trading cards. PSA classifies Pokemon cards according to different traits like condition (unsealed being the most valuable of course), year of publication, rarity, special edition, and so on. This means that the rarity traits of this NFT collection are derived from real life traits.

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Each NFT of the Courtyard Genesis Collection is “sealed” at mint to reproduce “the excitement of tearing open the pack to reveal the precious cards inside”. The reveal will happen a few days after the mint. Until then the sealed cards can be traded freely on OpenSea (trading at 0.4 $ETH right now or 2x mint price).

To guarantee fairness the token metadata of each unrevealed Courtyard NFT contains a hash of the metadata for the card inside. When the token is revealed, you’ll be able to hash the now-visible metadata and verify that it matches the hash in its unrevealed state. Moreover, to ensure the token each minter gets is randomly assigned, Courtyard uses Chainlink, the most widely used randomness oracle. This way you can be sure that you really received the card you were supposed to receive and the reveal mechanism wasn’t tampered with.

Which One to Catch?

Here are the stats:

  • Mint Date: March 14th 2022

  • Type: ERC721 NFT

  • Price at mint: 0.2 WETH (ETH on Polygon)

  • Chain: Polygon

  • Total: 800

  • Pokemon Editions: Mostly Base Set Unlimited & 1st Edition

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On their Instagram Courtyard teases with some high ranking Pokemon cards that are part of the Genesis drop. Ranging from the 1st Edition Holo Zapdos currently ranked at around $500 to a Base Set Holo Charizard at around $30K. With the mint price at 0.2 ETH the whole collection brought in 160 ETH in sales. According to Courtyard’s website the team has chosen the mint price based on the average value which implies they spent around $500k to acquire the 800 cards. It also means the reveal process will be like a lottery, some people will receive a card that will be worth a lot more than the 0.2 $ETH they spent and some will receive a pokemon card worth a bit less than what they spent. However, it will be interesting to see how the market prices these NFTs. Maybe they will trade at a premium compared to their “fair market value” in the physical world. Just like with physical unsealed Pokemon cards you never know what you’ll get, and that’s all the thrill. You can browse current offers here.

And here’s the list of high value cards featured on the official Courtyard Instagram (7/800):

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These seven cards have an approximate fair market value of around $280K (according to PSA). This means that the remaining 793 cards are left with around $120K in total value or an average per card cof 150$. This average is only derived by the total value of the 7 cards, of course the real number most likely differs as we only know the approximate value 0.88% of all cards.

Don’t treat any of this as financial advice but merely an idea on how to calculate chances. It doesn't take in a lot of other important factors like potential price increase or depreciation over time or the actual rarity of the featured cards. At time of writing the unsealed Genesis NFTs are trading at a floor price of 0.4 ETH and only around 50 items are listed for sale.

Emanuel Coen

2 months ago ·

6 min read


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