If there was one takeaway from Facebook’s much-maligned rebrand in October last year, it was Zuckerberg Inc. telegraphing a determination to corner and monetize the metaverse.

Year one of Meta has been a disaster. The company’s stock price has fallen nearly 75 percent, the Reality Labs division operated at a loss of $3.7 billion, and Horizon Worlds, its signature virtual reality app, has seen a third of users depart since February. Time, perhaps, for a risk-free bet: NFTs on Instagram.

On November 2, Meta announced Instagram users will soon be able to mint, showcase, and sell NFTs (or digital collectibles, as it prefers to call them) on the platform courtesy of the Polygon blockchain, valued for its speed and scalability. Back in May, Meta gave users the ability to connect their Instagram account with a cryptowallet and share digital collectibles on their profile. Now, the platform has taken a significant step towards becoming an NFT marketplace.

First, as part of its annual Creator Week, it’s trialing the feature with a group of crypto artists, including Amber Vittoria, Refik Anadol, Drift, and Diana Sinclair.

The line-up includes Olive Allen, the New York-based digital artist who sold the first NFT at an art fair back in 2021 and whose playful depictions of sheep, teddy bears, and indeed herself, trade for tens of thousands on NFT marketplaces.

“The new feature will enable everyone to create NFTs,” Allen told Artnet News. “It will allow artists and content creators to find new ways to connect to their communities; I believe this is a step in the right direction towards mass adoption and metaverse creation.”

01 DIGITAL COLLECTIBLES

Courtesy Meta

Meta’s move arrives at a curious moment for the crypto art movement. No longer solely the domain of niche online communities, NFTs have passed through a period of wild speculation and are now the concern of major museums and galleries. If Meta’s rollout is successful—a move Twitter looks likely to follow—NFTs could become truly mainstream.

Having previously integrated and bolstered e-commerce features for vendors, platforming NFTs could prove a similar boon for creatives by streamlining the process of drawing revenue from followers. In time, Meta will also hope to benefit, though it has announced it will not begin charging fees to create or sell NFTs until 2024.

“I’m planning to mint a small collection,” Allen said. “Most of the pieces will be affordable, so people new to NFTs can join the community and feel included.” When asked how she feels about monetizing her Instagram followers, the artist, whose first IRL solo show was held Postmasters Gallery in May, said it was an honor that would push her to create more unique experiences for her NFT holders.

Allen thinks this first batch of digital collectibles on Instagram may even spark a mini bounce-back in the market: “The community is excited about the launch; NFT historians see it as another opportunity to collect firsts.”

After a turbulent year, Meta will be praying she’s right.

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