It’s been a wild week in the world of NFTs. First, the Wall Street Journal reported that the market for the digital artform is “flatlining,” in the same week that the top five collections hit more than $1 billion in primary and secondary market sales. Now comes the news that Instagram will be wading into the NFT waters by allowing users to showcase their crypto art via their profiles.
The social media giant, owned by Facebook parent company Meta, announced that it will be piloting the NFT integration feature this week. In doing so, Instagram intends to support crypto wallets such as MetaMask, allowing users to prove their NFT ownership and showcase the works on their profiles, much like Twitter did for its hexagonal NFT profile pictures last January.
The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said in a video post that NFTs will be displayed in a similar way to tagged profiles and products. He added that the “digital collectibles” feature will allow users to click on a tag that will display the name of the creator and owner of the digital asset.
“The creator economy is incredibly important to Instagram,” Mosseri said, “but one of the challenging things we need to solve as an industry is how to help creators make a living in doing what they love.”
For now, the digital collectibles feature will only be available to some U.S. Instagram users, but Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed in a post on May 9 that the functionality will be rolled out slowly and also be made available to users of Facebook in the future.
Interestingly, Zuckerberg hinted in the post that he has high hopes for integrating the function into Meta’s proprietary augmented reality software, Spark AR. “We’re going to work on augmented reality NFTs, basically 3D NFTs,” Zuckerberg said.
This is not necessarily a new or novel idea, with companies like Metahero recently partnering with Wolf Digital World, a leader in 3D 16k scanning technology, to enable the integration of AR and VR within metaverse apps across different NFT platforms.
According to Mariusz Krol, co-founder of Metahero, adding NFTs to Instagram was “only a matter of time,” though he said he hopes such a high-profile platform adopting the artform will result in advances in photogrammetry, the technology that extracts 3D information from 2D photographs. “The scale of Instagram will undoubtedly push the 3D scanning industry forward,” Krol told Artnet News.
According to the Verge, only NFTs minted on the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains will be supported at first, though Instagram does plan on supporting other blockchains such as Solana and Flow.
Sofiane Delloue, founder of the NewCoin, a blockchain specifically aimed towards social media networks and gaming, says that with Instagram beefing up its presence in the NFT world, “it legitimizes this technology in the eyes of mainstream audiences, which can accelerate the adoption of NFTs across the entire internet.”
Delloue added that the impact of the integration might go both ways. “With Instagram being the global leader of the attention economy, I am curious to see how they transition and pivot towards the creative economy, which poses a different set of challenges and a transformation of Instagram’s core business model,” he said.
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