In a blistering statement, the head of WestJet condemned the move, saying the decision “shows blatant disregard for all Canadians who believe in healthy competition.”
Author of the article:
Amanda Stephenson • Calgary Herald
Feb 12, 2021 • 5 hours ago • 2 minute read
WestJet CEO Ed Sims voiced his frustration and displeasure Friday over the federal government approving rival Air Canada’s $190 million purchase of Transat this week.
In a blistering statement, the head of the Calgary-based airline condemned the move, saying the decision “shows blatant disregard for all Canadians who believe in healthy competition.”
“When Canadians look to explore the world and reunite with family and friends once again, they will face fewer choices and higher fares,” Sims said.
Sims noted the Canadian Competition Bureau had raised concerns about the purchase, warning that eliminating the rivalry between Air Canada and Montreal-based Transat would result in increased prices, less choice, decreases in service, and a significant reduction in travel by Canadians on a variety of routes where their existing networks overlap.
“It is hard to imagine a deal as anti-competitive in any industry where the number one player buys number three without meaningful remedies,” Sims said. “This is a serious setback to Canada’s economy.”
Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced the approval Thursday evening just days before the deal’s Feb. 15 deadline, saying the government concluded the purchase is in the public interest.
He said it considered a range of factors, including level of service, wider social and economic implications, the financial health of the air transportation sector, and competition.
“Given the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the air industry, the proposed purchase of Transat A.T. by Air Canada will bring greater stability to Canada’s air transport market,” he said in a statement.
The pandemic was also cited as a factor when Transat noted it may not be able to continue on its own because of the significant financial challenges.
The government said the acquisition is the best outcome for workers, Canadian travellers and other industries that rely on air transport.
Transat shareholders in December approved the revised deal, equal to $5 per share — a significant decrease from an earlier $720 million or $18 per share.
Air Canada won support from Transat’s largest shareholder, Letko Brosseau, after sweetening the deal in August 2019 from its initial offer of $520 million or $13 per share a few months earlier.
Transat has completely paused air operations until April 30 and furloughed about 450 employees.
Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Calgary Herald, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300
Thanks for signing up!
A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it please check your junk folder.
The next issue of Calgary Herald Headline News will soon be in your inbox.
We encountered an issue signing you up. Please try again
NFTs are the latest cryptocurrency rage these days, with bands like Kings of Leon releasing their next album as limited edition “golden tickets,” and NBA digital collectibles being sold for millions of dollars.
They’re interesting to collectors and cryptocurrency fans alike, but is there a future there? In other words: Should you spend some actual dollars to invest in a digital trinket?
What Are NFTs?
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a type of cryptocurrency created on a smart contract platform such as Ethereum. They are unique digital objects that can be cool to own or even profitable to trade. Think of them as digital collectible cards. They typically start out as something only enthusiasts care about, but if you get a rare one, it could be worth a lot one day.
What is fungible vs. non-fungible?
Cryptocurrencies can be fungible, meaning all the currency’s units (i.e., tokens) are the same and equal, like grains of rice or dollars.
Non-fungible tokens are the opposite — every cryptocurrency unit, or token, is unique and cannot be replicated.
This “non-fungible” property can be used for many things, even certain types of currencies. But the current NFT craze is mostly fueled by digital art and collectibles. People have figured out that a unique, digital object can be interesting, cool, and even have a significant monetary value. It’s why the space has recently blossomed, encompassing thousands of projects involving artworks, gaming, and sports.
How do NFTs work?
It really depends on the platform. But given the vast majority of NFTs are created and traded on Ethereum, we’ll focus on that.
NFTs are created on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered. No one can undo your ownership of an NFT or re-create that exact same one. They’re also “permissionless,” so anyone can create, buy, or sell an NFT without asking for permission. Finally, every NFT is unique, and can be viewed by anyone.
So yes — it’s like a unique collectible card in a forever-open store window that anyone can admire, but only one person (or cryptocurrency wallet, to be exact) can own at any given time.
In a practical sense, an NFT is typically represented by a digital artwork, such as an image. But it’s important to understand that it’s not just that image (which can easily be replicated). Its existence as a digital object on the blockchain is what makes it unique.
How do I buy or trade NFTs?
NFTs are bought and traded just like any other cryptocurrency based on Ethereum, only instead of buying some amount of tokens, you buy a single token.
To do that, you should start by installing Metamask, a browser extension that lets you interact with various facets of Ethereum, such as exchanges and dApps (decentralized apps). MetaMask is also a digital wallet for Ethereum and all the tokens created on Ethereum (both fungible and non-fungible).
After installing the extension, you should buy some Ethereum (you can do it directly in MetaMask with a debit card or Apple Pay by clicking on “Add Funds”). But be very careful with your funds — store your MetaMask password and your wallet’s private key somewhere safe. Then, when you visit a website that sells NFTs (such as NBA Top Shot) or an exchange where you can trade for them (such as Uniswap), connect your MetaMask wallet to the site (only do that on sites you know are safe), and buy your first NFT.
Why do NFTs have value?
Of course, before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to know why it’s a good purchase. Indeed, why would anyone buy an NFT and why should there ever be a buyer willing to spend even more money down the line?
Ideally, the value of NFTs doesn’t just come from a game of digital hot potato, in which you purchase something hoping you’ll sell it for more later. And so on, until the whole thing crashes. Ideally, the NFT should be valuable to you because… you like it. If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to have an official NFT representing your favorite player. Or, perhaps there’s a digital cat that you really like.
Sure, in some ways, many NFTs are just a digital image that you can easily right-click and save to your computer. But NFTs also reside on the blockchain, which makes it extremely hard to truly copy them in their entirety. The blockchain entry also transparently tells you who created the NFT. If a famous musicians says: “Yes, that’s my Ethereum address that created this digital image of a possum.” Then that can be verified on the blockchain.
Some NFTs can be valuable in other ways. Say, for example, you buy an NFT related to an online game. Perhaps that NFT will one day give you special prestige in the game, or it could even be the basis for you getting some other, hard-to-get object; something that only you can have because every NFT is unique. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft or a similar game, you know how valuable a piece of armor or a weapon can be. Now, with NFTs, no one can take it away from you, not even the game’s owners.
Let’s return for a second to that game of digital hot potato. NFTs are a nascent space, and there’s a lot of hysteria and scamming going on. You might see a certain NFT sold for millions, and think you’ll also be able to buy something for a few dollars and become rich selling it to someone later on. It can happen, but it’s rare. And these things can be manipulated. For example, a cryptocurrency whale (someone that owns vast amounts of crypto money) can buy many NFTs and then “sell” them to himself (his other cryptocurrency address) for millions, artificially inflating the price. So be careful: Just because some NFT was traded for a lot of money, do not think this automatically means all other similar NFTs are valuable as well.
What are the most expensive NFTs?
In the early days of the space, we saw a blockchain game like CryptoKitties sell virtual cats for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 limited edition NFTs for more than 11 million dollars. The musician Grimes (aka the mother of little X Æ A-Xii) even sold her digital art collection for $7,500 apiece, totaling $6 million in sales. Yes, these things can get very pricey.
Are NFTs a good investment?
Buying an NFT because you like it, or maybe even to earn (or lose) a few quick bucks is one thing. But investing in NFTs is another. Again, it’s a nascent space. Even a Van Gogh painting or a rare Babe Ruth baseball card required some passage of time before becoming very valuable.
Given the digital nature of NFTs, it’s hard to compare them to prized physical artworks, such as statues and paintings. On the other hand, we live in a world where one Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000, so things from the digital realm can certainly be very valuable and even sustain that value over longer periods of time.
In any case, if you plan to invest in NFTs, you’ll need to dive deep into this complex world because each NFT market is slightly different. It’s also pricey — trading on Ethereum can be quite costly as the network’s recent congestion is causing fees to rise. Finally, you’ll need to think strategically and follow the often rapidly changing cryptocurrency trends.
In short, it’s possible to earn money by investing in NFTs, but you’ll have to do your homework.
At first blush, Sheldon Corey’s Twitter avatar, shown above, isn’t the sort of thing you’d think is worth $20,000 US. But to the Montreal investor, it’s worth every penny — if not more.
The image is part of a collection of digital files known as CryptoPunks, which were first created more than three years ago.
Created by a computer algorithm by software developer Larva Labs, there are about 10,000 of them out there. They were given away almost for free when they were created, but over time they have come to be very valuable to a certain subculture of people because they are among the first examples of an emerging type of digital investment known as non-fungible tokens or NFTs.
While the image itself can be easily duplicated, what gives Corey’s NFT its value is that its digital ownership is unimpeachable. Logged on a digital ledger known as a blockchain that can’t be forged, the ownership can be publicly verified by anyone who cares to look, and Corey is its undisputed owner in perpetuity, or at least until he decides to sell it.
But he has no plans to sell.
“It’s something I’m going to hang on to,” he said in an interview. “It’s doubled in value already.”
The “non-fungible” portion of NFTs simply means they can’t be exchanged for another asset of the same type, and can instead only be transferred in exchange for some sort of money, typically ethereum or bitcoin. (Conventional money is perhaps the best example of a “fungible” asset since it can be exchanged for others of the same type. Canadian dollars for a certain amount of American ones, for example. Or two dimes and a nickel for a quarter.)
NFTs are exploding in popularity right now, swept up in the mania for digital assets such as bitcoin. The most expensive CryptoPunk is currently valued at about $2 million. And about half of the 50 most valuable ones in the world have changed hands in the past month alone.
CryptoPunks may be among the oldest, but they are far from the only ones.
Digital artist Mike Winkelmann — better known by his online alias, Beeple — made headlines recently for selling the NFT of the 10-second video he created, shown below, to an investor for $67,000 US last fall.
CROSSROAD<br>By <a href=”https://twitter.com/beeple?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@beeple</a> <br><br>The #1/1 from beeple’s first NG drop has just resold on the secondary market for $6.6 million. <br><br>History has just been made.<br><br>Congrats to beeple and of course to <a href=”https://twitter.com/pablorfraile?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@pablorfraile</a> for the sale. <a href=”https://t.co/mTYG4VABSw”>pic.twitter.com/mTYG4VABSw</a>
The buyer, Miami-based art collector Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, sold that NFT this week for almost 100 times what he paid, setting what’s believed to be a new record for NFTs at $6.6 million US. To him, he was buying a valuable piece of art akin to any other works from the great masters of their day, worthy of hanging in any museum you could name.
“You can go in the Louvre and take a picture of the Mona Lisa and you can have it there, but it doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t have the provenance or the history of the work,” he said this week. “The reality here is that this is very, very valuable because of who is behind it.”
Newer NFTs are starting to get into prickly issues such as royalties. But most, like Corey’s CryptoPunk, do not.
He says he’s also invested in a few newer types of NFTs called Hashmasks — one of which is shown below — that come with the ability to sell the naming rights.
“There’s a secondary market for naming them so they are generating their own revenue source,” he said.
OpenSea, the largest marketplace for buying and selling NFTs, booked almost $90 million US worth of transactions last month. That’s up from $8 million US the month before and just $1.5 million this time last year.
Maria Paula Fernandez is an adviser to the Golem Network, a peer-to-peer marketplace for computing power that runs on the ethereum network. While NFTs have been around for a few years, she said in an interview that they are hyped right now due to a “very large influx of new users coming into ethereum by way of some very crazy incentives in the space.”
Translation? There’s a lot of new money pouring in.
Much like conventional art, the beauty of digital art may be in the eye of the beholder, but to Fernandez the real value of NFTs is in how they can certify ownership.
“They’re super versatile,” she said. “But the main benefit is the certificate of provenance and authenticity of an artwork.”
“The ink was right, the paper was right, people that know Rothko vouched for it,” she said.
Despite the way the gallery owner obtained them being “a bit shady” and the verification of their status “super opaque”, customers couldn’t wait to get their hands on rare gems from such revered artists.
There was only one problem: they were all fake, forgeries by a talented Chinese artist. “All these millionaires, including the owner of [auction company] Sotheby’s, got scammed because in the art world, provenance is created by a consensus,” she said.
“With NFTs there is no question, it’s either there or it’s not. Period.”
It’s not just hobbyists with more cryptodollars than sense throwing money into the space, either. Canada’s Grimes and Tennessee’s Kings of Leon both made millions this week selling artwork and music, respectively, via NFT.
The NBA has jumped into the space with both feet, establishing something called NBA Top Shot, which is probably best described as sports cards for the digital era.
Instead of buying a pack of physical cards, fans and investors can buy NFTs of videos of memorable on-court moments. Since launching five months ago, the service has attracted 100,000 buyers and racked up more than $250 million in sales.
So far the most valuable is the NFT of a dunk by superstar LeBron James. It recently sold for more than $208,000. (The Mona Lisa may belong to the Louvre, but the NFT in question is owned by a Twitter user with the apt moniker of YoDough. You can watch it yourself for free, here.)
Speaking as an art lover, Fernandez says she wouldn’t personally poster her wall with the LeBron dunk, but she still calls Top Shot a “great use case” to show the value of NFTs.
“Of course it’s not as special as a [sports card] you can hold and love and feel all that beauty, but this one lives forever,” she said. “You don’t have to protect it or put it in a safe, [but] you can have a very expensive collectible for your life.”
Emelia Thiara is managing director at Kingswap, a Singapore-based decentralized marketplace that allows trading in cryptocurrencies and NFTs. While the technology has been around for a while, she says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in interest in NFTs, as digital assets become more mainstream.
She says it’s easy to think some of the assets are trivial, but so are a lot of physical collectibles. People collect high-end watches such as Rolex and save them for decades. “All that has no value to anyone who’s not into the subculture, but to whoever is in the subculture it is hugely valuable,” she said.
“It may seem silly … and doesn’t make sense, but at least [an NFT] is recorded on a blockchain,” she said.
Fernandez admits that the feverish activity and meteoric price rise of some NFTs could be evidence of a bubble, but she’s convinced the underlying technology will have real value even if the current frenzy fizzles out.
“The only way to prove this isn’t a bubble is if there are still creators willing to keep working, and technologists willing to keep investing in the platforms,” she said.
“Never in the history of art has it been easier to sell your work for millions.”
A new craze is sweeping through the art world, but it’s of solely digital work.
Using blockchain technology — which is what underpins cryptocurrency transactions like Bitcoin — to authenticate who owns the pieces, digital assets known as “non-fungible tokens,” or NFTs, are selling for millions.
An NFT is a singular, one-of-a-kind digital token that cannot be interchanged with other tokens – which makes them optimal for buying and selling art or other collectibles as they accrue value independently.
NFTs give a digital certificate of ownership to buyers to prove authentication of both the work and the purchase, but does not give buyers the original file or copyright – which is why NFTs have been labeled as a “bragging rights” purchase.
Canadian Trevor Jones, who lives in Scotland, sold more than $3 million worth of digitally-authenticated versions of his painting “Bitcoin Angel” in just seven minutes.
“It’s crazy how fast this space is moving,” Jones told CTV News. “This is the first time in history that an artist could monetize digital pieces.”
A version of the “nyan cat meme,” where a pixelated cat with the body of a Poptart flies over a rainbow, sold for US$590,000 at auction, and a 10-second video clip by digital artist “Beeple” sold for US$6.6 million.
Canadian musician Grimes recently sold US$6 million dollars worth of NFTs as well.
Even the NBA is getting in on the action – with the biggest transaction to date on Feb. 22, when a user paid US$208,000 for a video of a LeBron James slam dunk.
Auction house Christie’s has recently moved into the digital space, offering a new Beeple piece on the block. NFTs have surged in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more people purchase items digitally due to lockdowns and stay at home orders.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.