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How Crypto & NFTs Are Invading Building Materials & Why It Matters to Manufacturers

Blockchain and NFTs are trending topics online, but what do those concepts mean for the building materials industry? Zach and Beth talk with this week’s guest, Tim Seims, about how manufacturers, builders and everyone else in the building products space might be impacted by cryptocurrency.

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Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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More About This Episode

Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

If you don't know what cryptocurrency is all about, don’t fret. We break down some of the basic ideas around blockchain, NFTs and other crypto concepts on the show and talk about why they should matter to manufacturers.

How Bitcoin Impacts Building Materials

Cryptocurrency isn’t just for startup groups anymore. You can now pay for your mortgage with Bitcoin (a type of cryptocurrency) or use it as a down payment for a house. And according to Money.com, “Thanks to crypto's meteoric growth, the portion of first-time homebuyers using gains from trading digital currencies to fund down payment savings is rising,” says Sarah Hanssen.

Industry expert Tim Seims has been a part of the cryptocurrency conversation for a few years now, but he’s been in building materials for a few decades. He specializes in the prefabrication space, but also thinks a lot about the future of real estate and the building materials industry. We were thrilled to get his take on things after following what he’s been tweeting and posting about the topic online for a while now.

“So, I just used my Coinbase wallet and paid for my breakfast at the little cafe. That was really interesting. And then, of course, a lot of people have seen the Super Bowl ad with Matt Damon for crypto,” says Tim. “So, there's a lot more awareness [around cryptocurrency], but I think with more awareness come even more questions.”

Many of Tim’s clients have been bringing those questions to him, wondering how they might make a digital representation of their product. A digital version would offer a few benefits to the brands and their customers “so that they can track, basically and transfer knowledge about the chain of custody of their product from the forest by the trucking company, to the mill,” explains Tim. “And so they could see the chain of custody from when something is grown and harvested or mined and all the way until it becomes a building material installed in a building.”

What he’s describing is blockchain, and while many people consider the building industry slow to adapt to change, “different brands and builders and forestry management [are] actually doing a lot with exploration in this field,” says Tim.

Why Brands Should Jump Into the Crypto Conversation

But how will manufacturers, dealers or other professionals use cryptocurrency, let alone jump in a conversation that uses a lot of strange jargon?

“If you're talking about forestry, for example, you can track where a particular tree was even harvested or forested, where it was milled, how it got transported, all of that,” explains Zach. “And the benefit is to — let's say, even to the end homeowner or consumer, or even architecture, whoever might be — there's a level of reassurance that like, ‘Hey, what they're promising in their marketing is actually true,’” says Zach.

We’ve talked before on the podcast about why homeowners or architects might care about product certifications, and verifying building materials through blockchain offers those solutions.

There are plenty of players in construction who are going to encounter this digital landscape sooner rather than later. “There's a big demand by their investors in the fund or in the company or public investors in the stock market for, ‘what are you really doing about ESG (environmental, sustainability and governance) in your company?’” explains Tim.

How To Get Involved With Crypto

There’s a marketing aspect to cryptocurrency, and its growth in popularity means that things like NFTs can be gimmicky. But Tim and Zach talked through a few ways that brands can use cryptocurrency and attract attention without it feeling gimmicky.

Benefits like warranty registrations as NFTs might come into play for manufacturers in residential construction. “You sell your house and to the person you sell [to], you're like, ‘Here's all of the NFTs associated with every registration for every product I have,’ versus like handing over a stack of papers,” says Zach. “Instead, it's like, ‘here's your entire digital asset that accompanies this physical asset.’”

Adding this level of accountability to the building process will make a big impact on the products we build with. “If you NFT those [products], you now have a life cycle immutable response to see the performance of every single material that goes into the building,” says Tim. “Now, as an industry, we can start to say to these Fortune 500 companies given us carbon bombs for our buildings, we can say with that immutable data, ‘You're not performing right. Shame on you.’ And now we get into the real conversation of moving the needle."

We’ll also likely see more influencers and online experts use cryptocurrency to promote new products. Using cryptocurrency can raise awareness about a brand and build real momentum for its popularity. “If there's a brand that's trying to form a community to have thought leadership or kind of a startup mentality or entrepreneurship at their organization or something like that, they could take that and be like, ‘Okay, this is a very exclusive group,’” says Tim. “This is how we're going to kind of incentivize it and make it a very special experience.”

Want Even More Insight?

After talking with Tim, it’s clear that NFTs and cryptocurrency aren’t just trending topics on Twitter. “I mean, when you get mortgage companies behind it, it starts to be a bit of a different discussion because mortgage companies are anything but silly,” says Beth. “But I think this is a really important conversation because if you look at what's happening around us, it's consolidation, it's moving away from friction, it's simplification.”

It’s time for manufacturers who want to guarantee a future in building materials to include cryptocurrency in their business strategy. “If you don't have someone at the company that's a champion for the space kind of leading the conversation, other companies are going to do that,” says Tim.

If you want to continue the crypto conversions with Time you can email him or find him on LinkedIn.

Listen to the full episode for even more exciting insights about cryptocurrency and the future of building materials.

Are you playing with the concept of cryptocurrency at your company? Drop us a note, we’d love to hear more!

Show Notes

What Are NFTs?
What Is Cryptocurrency?
What is Blockchain?

Homeowners Funding Mortgages with Crypto