Facebook owner Meta dives into NFT digital collectibles craze

Meta is working on plans to allow users to create and sell non-fungible tokens as Facebook’s parent company seeks to join the rush of companies trying to capitalize on the digital collectibles craze.

Facebook and Instagram teams are preparing a feature that will allow users to post their NFTs on their social media profiles, as well as working on a prototype to help users create – or craft – the collectible tokens, according to several people familiar with the subject. .

Two of the people said that Meta had also considered launching a marketplace allowing users to buy and sell NFTs – essentially a digital asset representing art or images that cannot be reproduced.

All of these efforts are still in their infancy and could still change. But the talks mark Meta’s first efforts to cash in on the hype-fueled world of NFTs, which surged in popularity last year to become a $40 billion global market. Critics portrayed the freewheeling sector as a speculative bubble plagued by scams and market manipulation.

Dominant NFT market OpenSea, which takes a 2.5% cut on any sale, this month raised $300m at a valuation of $13bn – just six months after raising $100m at a $1.5 billion valuation. Leading US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is launching its own marketplace. Meta rival Twitter tests NFT highlight the capabilitieswhile Reddit has launches its own collection of NFT avatars.

The move comes after Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said last year that NFTs could one day be used to support a market for digital assets in its planned metaverse, a world filled with avatars that the company is investing $10 billion a year to build over the next decade.

The company, which has recently been dogged by moderation and privacy scandals, has seen popularity plummet for its main social media products such as Facebook and Instagram, in a trend that threatens its 85% ad-based business model. billions of dollars a year. .

Meta’s plans will also help artists monetize their digital art at a time when money has been flowing especially into the sales of expensive limited collections of NFTs, such as CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club. Buyers of these exclusive collections typically post their pieces as Twitter profile photos, to signal their stature online.

Instagram manager Adam Mosseri said in December that he was “actively exploring NFTs,” without sharing specific details. But Instagram is now testing its NFT showcase feature internally, said two people with knowledge of the rapidly developing plans.

The Instagram NFTs project was originally spearheaded last year by Kristin George, Instagram’s director of product and creators, and David Marcus, the former head of payments and crypto arm of Facebook who left the company in December, another person said. Marcus has now been replaced by Stéphane Kasriel, former managing director of freelance platform Upwork.

Facebook’s digital currency wallet Novi, which launched as a pilot in October, will likely be vital to the plans, the people said. “A lot of the Novi-related support features will power NFTs,” said a person with knowledge of the plans.

Meta declined to comment.

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