SINGAPORE - Tech giant Meta may sidestep the cryptocurrency crisis by allowing its Instagram users to buy and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) using their credit or debit cards. The launch of this feature is targeted for 2023.
NFTs are unique digital files that exist on blockchains and are tradable, usually using cryptocurrency.
“On Instagram, if you see an NFT that you like, you can just buy it using an in-app purchase via a credit card or debit card that is linked to various app stores, either IOS or Android (operating systems),” Mr Tang Wei, the public policy manager for Meta Financial Technologies APAC, said at a media event last Thursday to launch Meta’s art initiative called Art Reimagined Singapore.
“We are not here to encourage speculation or encourage people to flip artworks. We want to encourage creators to connect with their audience and give the audience, their fans, the ability to support the creator that they care about. And we want to do that as soon as possible.”
Meta announced in June that it would begin testing in-app payments on Instagram.
Earlier in November, Meta announced that it would allow Instagrammers to mint or make their own digital collectibles and sell them, both on and off Instagram. The new features are being tested on a small group of creators in the United States in 2022 and will be rolled out globally, including in Singapore in 2023.
Instagram will also be adding the Solana blockchain and Phantom wallet to the list of blockchains and wallets that can already be linked. Third-party wallets that can be linked include Rainbow, MetaMask and Trust Wallet, while blockchains include Ethereum, Polygon and Flow.
Art Reimagined Singapore is a project to empower artists through augmented reality (AR) technology and has already been launched in South Korea and Taiwan. The AR experiences were built using the Meta Spark platform that enables creators to work in new ways.
In Singapore, the Art Reimagined exhibition at Hatch Art Project included well-known Singapore artists Goh Beng Kwan and Kumari Nahappan, as well as traditional Malay dance artiste and choreographer Norhaizad Adam.
They were invited to create digital works using AR digital tools. These artworks can be viewed on Instagram on the Art Reimagined Singapore’s Instagram handle, artreimaginedsg.
Nahappan is best known for her large sculptures such as the Nutmeg at ION in Orchard Road and the Saga at Changi Airport. She said she experimented with NFTs during the Covid-19 pandemic period, but she “needs to know more about the tools”.
“Digital art can be planned for a different audience,” she added.
For her digital work called Tango AR, she collaborated with digital studio SERIAL CO_. Its director, chief technology officer and creative director Jake Tan said: “On Instagram, with that social experience, I think it’s more for art collectors.”
He also liked the verification that comes with it. “If I connect my wallet now, anyone can go in to see that it is verified by this Instagram handle.”
The physical exhibition ran from last Friday to Sunday. Meta will be featuring it again at The Arts House in 2023, though no date has been given.
Meta announced in June that it would not charge fees for displaying and sharingdigital collectibles on Instagram and it would also not charge any fees for selling digital collectibles until at least 2024.
Earlier in November, Meta said it would cut 11,000 jobs or 13 per cent of its workforce without giving specifics.
Meta’s Singapore managing director Damian Kim was at the Art Reimagined Singapore event. Asked to comment on job cuts, he said: “Right now, we are working through the situation. It’s very sensitive.”
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