Visa buys a CryptoPunk for $150,000 as its first step into NFT commerce

    One of the world’s largest card payment organizations, Visa, has purchased an NFT for over $150,000, signaling that NFTs are here to stay.

    Visa said Monday it bought a “CryptoPunk,” one of the thousands of NFT-based digital avatars, for nearly $150,000 in Ether.

    “We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,” Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa, said in a blog post on Monday. “To help our clients and partners participate, we need a firsthand understanding of the infrastructure requirements for a global brand to purchase, store, and leverage an NFT.”

    By Sheffield’s words, CryptoPunks have become a “cultural icon for the crypto community.”

    “With our CryptoPunk purchase, we’re jumping in feet first,” he claimed. “This is just the beginning of our work in this space.”

    According to Visa statement, Anchorage, a federally-chartered digital asset bank, facilitated the deal.

    By now, NFTs have been a pop culture phenomenon, with memes, game memorabilia, and concept arts being purchased predominantly by anonymous buyers or celebs looking to make a splash. This has led many to dub it as a fad, until Visa, the world’s second-largest card payment organization, purchased an NFT called CryptoPunk #7610 — an NFT from the CryptoPunk collection of pixel art images. The NFT’s design may have many questioning why Visa would spend $150,000 for a piece of digital art that looks as if it was made in MS Paint. However, the implications of this purchase might launch NFTs into the mainstream.

    Sheffield has mentioned in Visa Q&A that NFTs will play a key role in sectors such as retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce in the foreseeable future.

    The Visa executive also noted that the underlying technology behind the NFT ecosystem would open new opportunities in domains like music, gaming, ticketing, and art. Because of this, Visa’s interest in the NFT segment appears to have some strategic motivations behind it. In the first half of 2021, the global NFT sales passed the $2.5 billion mark, which is a staggering growth compared to the $13.7 million for the same interval for the previous year.

    Although, it’s not only the cumulative billions that make NFT a lucrative business on an industrial scale. NFTs are also beneficial for artists, allowing them to make millions for digital artwork. For example, Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5000 Days” was sold for $69.3 million, and CryptoPunk #7804 went to an unknown buyer for $7.6 million. The Doge meme NFT also sold for $4.40 million, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s famous first tweet was auctioned for $2.9 million towards a charitable cause. Some well-known concept artists such as BossLogic have accumulated a fortune, with his work being highly sought-after in the comic book and pop culture-loving community. It appears that, like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are also inching closer to mainstream recognition and acceptance.

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