The year is still young, but it is already promising to be a bumper 365 days for the growing non-fungible token (NFT) industry, with breakthroughs in the UK, North America, Japan and beyond.
In Britain, Christie’s, arguably the world’s most famous auction house, will place an NFT artwork with no physical component under the hammer from February 25 to March 11. The piece is named “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” by Beeple, who politically aware crypto fans may remember for his 2020 United States presidential election, Joe Biden versus Donald Trump-themed showdown artwork.
Christie’s auctioned another NFT bitcoin piece last year, a Satoshi Nakamoto-themed work that sold for USD 130,000. But crucially that piece had a non-digital component that accompanied its NFT. The Beeple piece, by contrast, is a purely digital artwork.
On Twitter, Beeple claimed that he was “honored and humbled to be representing the digital art community for this historic sale.”
The auction house announced in an official release that it had partnered with the MakersPlace digital marketplace for the listing.
Meanwhile, Dapper Labs, the Canada-based firm behind the basketball tie-in NBA Top Shot, is reportedly in the midst of a USD 250m funding round that could see the company value at approximately USD 2 billion.
In East Asia, NFTs are also gathering a head of steam. After the Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck announced earlier this month that it had snapped up a 100% share in Metaps Alpha, the operator of the Miime NFTs marketplace, a major South Korean player has also made another significant NFT move.
Kakao, per Digital Today, has teamed up with Quotabook, a firm that operates an exchange for unlisted shares in startups, and will integrate the platform’s offering with an NFT-powered solution on Klaytn, a blockchain protocol developed by the Kakao subsidiary Ground X.
Both firms have already made their NFT intentions clear, and threw their respective hats into the ring in 2020. Kakao operates a chat app-linked crypto wallet capable of storing NFTs, and last year struck a partnership deal with the trading platform Angel League, which also allows traders to buy stocks in non-publically listed firms that have designs on launching initial public offerings (IPOs).
Coincheck operates its own NFT trading platform in addition to its Miime interests, and claimed at the start of this month that it would list a number of sports star-themed NFTs from Chiliz and Socios.
J-pop-themed and manga tie-in NFTs are also selling like hotcakes in Japan.
Reaction on social media has been largely measured.
“[The] value of an NFT = Utility + Ownership History + Future Value + Liquidity Premium.”
Some crypto sector players have bemoaned the fact that most NFTs are built on the Ethereum (ETH) protocol, and are looking for other blockchain network-powered solutions.
The Bitfury co-founder George Kikvadze commented that despite the “massive” growth potential of the NFT sector, Ethereum had “tremendous scaling issues” – a factor that had led him to lend his support to the Flow blockchain’s own NFT initiatives.
But others still expressed skepticism about the lack of innovation in the sector.