NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership of virtual items like computerized art and sports highlights.
“We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,” Cuy Sheffield, Visa’s head of crypto, said in a statement. “This is just the beginning of our work in this space.”
CryptoPunks were one of the earliest NFT projects and have skyrocketed in value as collector’s items.
The CryptoPunks project includes a total of 10,000 unique pixel-art portraits of people, zombies, aliens, and apes.
“Over the last 60 years, Visa has built a collection of historic commerce artifacts – from early paper credit cards to the zip-zap machine,” Visa said Monday on Twitter. “Today, as we enter a new era of NFT-commerce, Visa welcomes CryptoPunk #7610 to our collection.”Larva Labs, which created the CryptoPunks in 2017 on the Ethereum blockchain, says on its website that the series “inspired the modern CryptoArt movement.”
Transaction records show that Visa bought the CryptoPunk NFT for 49.5 ethereum last week, when that amount of the digital currency was worth just under $150,000.
As of Monday morning, that amount of ethereum would be worth just over $165,200, showing how volatile cryptocurrencies can be.
“NFTs have the potential to become a powerful accelerator for the creator economy and lower the barrier to entry for individual creatives to earn a living through digital commerce,” Visa’s Sheffield said. “NFTs are starting to usher in a new form of social commerce that empowers both creators and collectors.”
Sheffield noted that NFTs present new opportunities for musicians, artists and other creators to connect with fans. He also said there are untapped opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the space.
The market for NFTs exploded earlier this year, with $2.5 billion in sales in the first six months of 2021, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020.
Sheffield said NFT sales have already surpassed $1 billion in August alone, citing data from OpenSea, an NFT marketplace.
Celebrities and internet has-beens have jumped on board, trying to cash in on the new form of ownership that’s fueling billions in transactions.Even hotel heiress Paris Hilton announced in June that she invested in Origin Protocol, a decentralized platform that’s focused on launching NFTs and joined the company as an adviser.
“I see NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as the future of the creator economy,” Hilton said in an April blog post. “Whether art or music or fashion or design, NFTs allow me to express myself and allow all creators to directly reach their audience, creating a new type of marketplace.”