In Conversation with Holly Atkinson on NFTs

For many of us, NFTs are a side hustle. But there’s a growing number of people who now work full-time in NFTs. Many of the artists and musicians who have hit the headlines are household names, but this series digs deep to find some of the lesser-known faces building out the ecosystem behind the scenes.

Today we’re talking to NFT collector Holly Atkinson, Head of Metaverse Technology at Boson Protocol, an organization that recently raised $36 million to create an open tokenized economy for commerce by automating digital-to-physical redemptions using NFTs encoded with game theory.

Holly Atkinson


What do you do every day, Holly?

I’m Head of Metaverse Technology at Boson, where I lead a team of developers focused on NFT art & gaming integrations, as well as pilot programs and partnerships. Right now we’re focused on delivering Boson’s flagship project – MetaMall – demonstrating our core protocol and its underlying mechanism backed by game theory, enabling trust-minimized digital-to-physical redemptions.

How did you get into programming cool stuff like this?

I have a background in science and commercial roles but decided to pivot into tech in 2018, so I joined a coding boot camp and did a lot of self-teaching about blockchain. I was in London at the time so I was able to immerse myself in the Ethereum space, where I met a lot of amazing, wonderful and kind people through workshops, meetups and blockchain groups. I landed my first official full-time developer job in 2019, at a blockchain company, and from there became a Blockchain Developer at The Sandbox. I started consulting for Boson Protocol in late 2020 and subsequently joined the team on a permanent basis in April this year.

You joined The Sandbox in early 2020. By today’s standards, you’re almost an NFT OG. What excites you about the space? 

NFTs are currently underutilized in terms of their functionality, so there is huge energy and innovation in the space. Boson is a great example of doing something new in terms of linking NFTs to transfers of physical assets using game theory and behavioral economics, so this opens up a whole new world of possibilities in the context of digital-to-physical transactions. I love that I have the opportunity now to work with pioneers in crypto, including people whom I’ve admired for a long time!

Linking physical items with DeFi is an area that I think we in the NFT space have yet to explore fully, and this composability is an area that I would love to delve further into. The whole decentralized stack, especially in relation to eCommerce, is so exciting because there are so many things that we don’t know about how the space will evolve.

I really enjoy experimenting: my colleagues Ludo, Nassar and I recently teamed up to enter ETHGlobal’s NFTHack hackathon, and our idea for gifting NFTs linked to physical items (which we called BosonPool) was one of the final Top 10.

So give us an example in the real world of where this could be useful?

Imagine you are in a virtual world like Decentraland or The Sandbox and you are wandering around shops and art galleries, window-shopping. By using Boson’s “commitment tokens”, you would be able to buy physical items in the game itself, having a high level of confidence that you would receive the item’s physical counterpart in excellent condition, with no need for a central intermediary.

Overall, one of the things I’m most excited about is the way that these virtual worlds and new companies are creating new functionality and new business models that are truly empowering creators and users by inventing new revenue streams.

Eat the Rich by Cryptonatrix
Click to View NFT on OpenSea


Are you a collector yourself?

Absolutely! I love the art side. I spend a lot of time on KnownOrigin, where I follow a really cool group of women crypto-artists (Women of crypto art), among others. I’ve purchased a number of NFTs through KnownOrigin, as well as on Rarible, OpenSea and The Sandbox, of course. 

One of the artists I really like is Cryptonatrix, who created the awesome artwork shown above. She recently wrote an opinion piece in The Defiant called “Destigmatizing the Blockchain: Sex Workers in NFT CryptoArt which raised some very interesting and nuanced points about freedom and boundaries in crypto art and tokenization.

I bought one of her NFTs, called Eat The Rich, which you can see here. Encouraging women to enter the ecosystem and investing in projects led by women are things that I’m really passionate about: I’m a member of a DAO called Meta Gamma Delta, a community which funds and champions women-led initiatives.

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