October 5, 2022


Textbook Publisher Pearson Plc. hopes to use non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology in order to profit from the second-hand market.

Print versions of Pearson titles are often resold multiple times to other students, with Pearson only seeing a profit at the original point of sale. Through NFTs and blockchain, CEO Andy Bird hopes the company can take a cut of these used sales as more textbooks go digital and go online.

“In the analog world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” Bird he said. “Going digital helps reduce the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allow us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” said the former Disney executive.

Last year, a consortium of fashion brands teamed up to offer a blockchain solution for their customers seeking greater authenticity. While the blockchain solution was primarily intended to combat counterfeiting, it also facilitated the reliable resale of luxury goods.

Digital transition

Although the NFT market has taken a nosedive after a flurry of speculation during the pandemic, Pearson and its competitors are working on ways to take advantage of the shift to digital technology. A paper book market, where a single title can cost upwards of £100, is shifting to a digital market, where e-books are rented through subscriptions.

In addition to NFTs and blockchain, Bird said the company was taking a holistic approach to the new technology. “We have a whole team working on the implications of the metaverse and what that might mean for us,” Bird said. As well as posting results ahead of analysts’ estimates earlier this week, Pearson announced it would cut £100m in costs and launched a strategic review of a Virtual Learning business called OPM.

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