VISA has announced the purchase of a CryptoPunk NFT (Non-Fungible Token) worth approximately $165,000 (~50 ETH this August 18, 2021). Perhaps the most unlikely thing you would expect VISA (the financial credit company) to invest in. VISA is apparently bullish on NFTs, or could this just be another signal to show they are “in the know” or “part of the gang”? CryptoPunk NFTs are original digital artwork made by Larva Labs. These are unique collectible characters that have verified ownership on the Ethereum blockchain. They are not physical objects at all, but purely digital. They look just like icons or emojis, not at all like the works of art you would see in a gallery.
This shows that VISA is getting in on the DeFi (Decentralized Finance) market with NFTs. According to their recent tweet:
“Over the last 60 years, Visa has built a collection of historic commerce artefacts—from early paper credit cards to the zip-zap machine. Today, as we enter a new era of NFT-commerce, Visa welcomes CryptoPunk #7610 to our collection”
NFTs like CryptoPunks, despite looking like mediocre art, hold plenty of value. A typical CryptoPunk can bid over $20,000 while the more in demand will bid in the millions of dollars. That shows that there is a big market for these collectibles and the buyers have plenty of money to spend. This is not your basic retail market where items cost a few dollars. This is a big money market, and it has attracted VISA’s attention.
What makes CryptoPunks desirable as a collectible is their uniqueness. A CryptoPunk character (i.e. Punks) is algorithmically generated by computer, not manually created by a human artist. There are also different types like Apes, Zombies and Aliens. Each CryptoPunk character has their own set of attributes and their metadata are recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. That also includes the proof of ownership to the holder of the NFT.
It seems like VISA will hold this NFT for the collection purposes. It will hold the CryptoPunk for historical records, perhaps to document a time when NFTs first emerged. This will surely be valuable in the future, whether NFT continue to become successful or not. Just owning a piece of history is valuable in itself, so VISA is going to look back on this as having a memento to that timeline. Overall the NFT market continues to grow. According to Forbes, the NFT market grew 1,785% In 2021. It is now the fastest growing sector in DeFi that is also gaining pop culture adoption and VISA is jumping on board.
Moving forward, it looks like VISA is also on the horizon ready to enter new partnerships and projects related to NFTs. As a payment processor, VISA can help bridge the traditional finance market with the DeFi space. That opens a world of opportunities for buyers, sellers and developers.