A non-fungible token (NFT) representing the world’s first SMS text message will be auctioned off by Vodafone today. The profits will go to the UNHCR, the worldwide refugee organization. “Merry Christmas” was the 15-character long text message sent by Neil Papworth to a colleague, Richard Jarvis, via the Vodafone network 39 years ago in December 1992, when Jarvis was at the corporate Christmas party. Other networks had to wait another nine years before sending and receiving SMS like Vodafone.
NFTs are projected to sell for up to $200,000, and the buyer will pay in Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin. Also included is a digital picture frame depicting the world’s first SMS and a 3D animation of the same as a digital version for the customer to take home.
He said he was “proud” of Vodafone UK’s efforts to assist “those in critical need of support” by bringing together technologies from different eras.
Winners will donate their winning bid to the United Nations Refugee Body (UNHCR), a UN agency that cares for 82.4 million refugees worldwide and has praised the “power” of technological innovation.
It is a “groundbreaking combination of cutting-edge technology and movement for social good,” says Christian Schaake, the head of UNHCR’s Private Sector Partnerships Service. “We can continue helping refugees and people who have been forced from home, allowing them to transform their lives and build better futures for themselves,” he says.
There has been a long history of involvement by the refugee agency in the NFT market. For example, for the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, UNHCR auctioned off a collection of 70 NFT artworks by Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist Hani Abbas.
For the sale of this “landmark piece of history,” Aguttes, an auction house in Paris, has been “delighted” and expects to draw international buyers for sale on Tuesday.