Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) should be coming to Instagram in “the next couple of months,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at the SXSW conference on Tuesday (March 15).
Speaking at the Austin, TX, festival where Twitter was born, Zuckerberg said that while he was not ready to release details, the company is “working on bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term,” Engadget reported. That would include importing outside NFTs and “hopefully over time [users will] be able to mint things within that environment.”
One of the hottest parts of the cryptocurrency world, non-fungible tokens are unique tokens that can hold a variety of media, including art, video and documents.
While warning that there are “a bunch of technical things that need to get worked out,” Zuckerberg said he hoped that “the clothing that your avatar is wearing in the metaverse, you know, can be basically minted as an NFT and you can take it between your different places.”
It makes a fair bit of sense for Meta to start its NFTs on the photo- and video-sharing social network, as media is still by far the most common and popular use of the tokens. But NFTs can carry smart contracts, making them able to hold — and tokenize into small segments — legal documents ranging from real estate titles to securities
It’s hardly a surprise, as he and other top executives including Instagram head Adam Mosseri have said the company had been “exploring” NFTs, Engadget said.
Beyond that, The Financial Times reported in January that Meta was working on making the Novi digital wallet it built for the abortive Libra stablecoin project — first renamed Diem and then sold to crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank — NFT-compatible.
On Nov. 8, Meta announced that the Novi digital wallet it built for the abortive Libra stablecoin project — first renamed Diem and then sold to crypto-friendly Silvergate Bank — would bring an existing stablecoin, Paxos’ Pax Dollar, to Instagram.
The blockchain-based crypto tokens that have been embraced by major brands’ marketers and mainstream celebrities of late play a big part in many versions of the metaverse technology Zuckerberg has embraced so strongly that he renamed the company Meta in October, relegating the Facebook brand from the parent company of both Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp to just the social network.
Marketers from Samsung to Gucci have been launching virtual stores and experiences within metaverse sites, often using NFT collectibles as a way to draw in consumers.
NFT marketing could be a big windfall for Meta if it is able to create a dominant metaverse — a term for an immersive, 3D virtual reality that is more of a Sci-Fi ideal than a usable technology at the moment.
So, NFTs are a perfect advertising vehicle for Meta, which has just saw its revenue badly slashed by Apple’s decision to make it harder for them to track consumers’ habits — something that saw its share price butchered last month after reporting lower than expected revenue.
As NFTs can carry smart contracts, it should be easy to make them track the user’s habits across a variety of web locations in and out of a metaverse. And to get one, they’d have to agree to terms agreements.
Engadget also said that Meta is looking into creating a marketplace to buy, sell and resell NFTs. Current marketplaces have been plagued by complaints of forged NFTs and tokens minted using trademarked content without a proper license, damaging one of the core selling points of NFTs — that their provenance can always be verified on the blockchain.
But as collectors and especially irate copyright holders are discovering, provenance isn’t the same thing as owning commercial rights to the property. Being an early mover in solving that problem could bring a lot of brands to a marketplace.