NFTs have officially made their way to the mainstream. Meta, the recently renamed parent company of Facebook, is planning its arrival in the NFT space, a $40-plus billion market opportunity. According to the Financial Times, Facebook and Instagram developers are in the process of building features that will make it easy for users to display, mint, or sell their NFT creations, which often take the form of digital art.
Meta's plans include a tool that lets users show off their digital avatar NFTs as profile pics, a trend that has already caught on like wildfire on Twitter. In addition, Zuckerberg's team is exploring the launch of an NFT marketplace, where creators can trade their masterpieces for a profit.
The soon arrival of Facebook and Instagram sends a message that NFTs are not going anywhere, especially considering the billions of monthly active users across both platforms. Investors seem to like the news, sending Meta (FB) shares up over 2% on the day. Investors have been fleeing tech stocks of late amid the expected onslaught of interest rate hikes, and the NFT development gave them something to celebrate.
Zuckerberg does not want to be left out in the cold on NFTs the way he was with the emergence of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Facebook was left on the sidelines trying feverishly to catch up. And now that Facebook and Instagram will soon be NFT friendly, it's likely only a matter of time before other technology companies follow suit, either with their own sets of digital collectibles or a marketplace platform like Meta might be creating to go up against industry leaders like OpenSea, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, and Crypto.com.
Meta is actually behind its own digital currency, called Diem. This stablecoin, which was rebranded from Libra and pegged to fiat currencies, is years in the making and has yet to see the light of day. The Diem ecosystem is more of a payments platform, and it includes a digital wallet dubbed Novi, formerly known as Calibra.
It was all designed to feed into Facebook's metaverse ambitions. But David Marcus, a PayPal alum who was the head honcho of Facebook's Diem project, resigned from Meta at the end of last year. Zuckerberg is probably a.) wishing he never attempted to create a competing digital currency to bitcoin or b.) hoping that the world forgets. Maybe even both. Perhaps he is trying to save face in the blockchain community with NFTs, which seems to be a safer bet.
OpenSea has had $3.8 billion, or 1 million Ethereum (ETH), in NFT transaction volume in the past 30 days. The top NFT collection on the OpenSea platform in the same period is currently the Mutant Ape Yacht Club. It's a collection of mutant apes formed by blending a Bored Ape NFT with a mutant serum. The one displayed below sells in auction for a minimum bid of 1,000 ETH, or $3.1 million. OpenSea takes a 2.5% transaction fee. No wonder Meta is eyeing this space.
Coinbase's NFT marketplace has yet to launch, but it has already amassed millions of interested participants on its waitlist.
Non-fungible tokens are digital assets through which unique data is stored on the blockchain to prove ownership of the asset. NFTs can take the form of art, video, and more. And while Zuckerberg is not late to the party, he's not a first-mover either. Major companies like GameStop and Ubisoft, professional sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, and MLB, pro athletes like tennis star Serena Williams, and celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon have already taken the NFT plunge. The list goes on and on. Today Serena tweeted a pic of a pink Bored Ape with the message GM (good morning).
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 20, 2022
She also owns a cool CryptoPunk NFT that was gifted to her by her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who paid 85 ETH ($175,541) for the rare digital collectible.
— Alexis Ohanian.eth 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@alexisohanian) September 14, 2021
Mike Tyson is also on the NFT bandwagon and currently displays an Iron Pigeon digital avatar on his Twitter account. Tyson is behind the Iron Pigeon collection and designed them to share with the world his passion for pigeons in the Ex Populus trading card game.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) January 17, 2022
The writing was on the wall for Mark Zuckerberg to enter the NFT fray. First, he changed his company's name to Meta to reflect a metaverse in which digital avatars in the form of NFTs are a common denominator. Next, Instagram executive Adam Mosseri tipped his hand to the platform's NFT plans last month. And while Meta is not late to the NFT party, they might want to get a move on, considering history has a way of repeating itself.
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