This morning, Visa announced that it has invested in a non-fungible token (NFT) called “CryptoPunk” 7610.
For those of you who don’t know what CryptoPunk is (no judgement from me if you don’t), it is a form of “pixel art” that is a throwback to the early days of gaming (think Mario on original Nintendo). And it is an art style that has become a fixture of crypto culture.
A parallel is hipsters buying vinyl records at record rates for no real reason.
But unlike a physical vinyl record, Visa now owns a fraction of a digital 8-bit avatar—hence the name CryptoPunk—out of a collection of 10,000 avatars, 3,840 of which are female punks.
If you’re thinking this is all a bit silly, you’d be right. But all the same, it’s valuable exercise for Visa and here’s why:
- Potential. If there is anything about crypto I think will succeed, it is non-fungible tokens. Creators who want to monetize their digital assets have few options to do so.
- It’s a cheap way to learn. Look, Visa only invested $150,000 in CryptoPunk 7610. It doesn’t really matter if NFT is the future of buying, selling or investing in digital goods. There’s enough activity in this space that something that lets you own fractional shares of bad pixelated art will see some measure of success. A great way to learn about how that could work is putting pocket change in the game.
- Marketing. In just five hours, Visa’s announcement that it owns a share of a virtual item has 11.3K retweets and 21K likes. Whoever is running the marketing team at Visa is probably basking in the sun of engagement. I applaud them.
Of course, crypto folks are a finicky bunch. Visa is “the man,” and crypto diehards are against it. But anyone can now own a share of a digital item, even the companies you hope crypto will take down.