Payments technology company Visa announced Monday that it has bought a CryptoPunk as it enters into the world of non-fungible token (NFT) commerce.
Visa bought CryptoPunk 7610, one of 3,840 female punks, for around $150,000 last week. CryptoPunks are considered the original NFTs, launched in 2017 by Larva Labs. These are a collection of 10,000 pixel art images of misfits and eccentrics. Each CryptoPunk has its own personality and unique combination of features.
"We felt that CryptoPunks would be a great addition to our collection of artifacts that can chart and celebrate the past, present, and future of commerce," Visa's head of crypto, Cuy Sheffield, told The Block in an interview. When asked why Visa added a CryptoPunk to the collection, Sheffield said CryptoPunks "pioneered the NFT technology and wave of NFT commerce," so Visa wanted to own a punk. He said the decision was less about the individual punk but more about CryptoPunks in general, given that it is a historical NFT project.
Visa believes NFTs will play an important role in the future of commerce.
NFTs can help individual content creators and small and medium-sized businesses in new ways, said Sheffield. "NFTs are an intersection of culture and commerce," he added.
Sheffield compared NFTs with the early days of e-commerce, saying that e-commerce made it possible for a small business to sell online and reach customers worldwide. But they still have to produce and ship physical goods, which can have high upfront costs. So NFTs allow a small business to harness a public blockchain to create digital goods, which can be delivered instantly to a crypto wallet anywhere in the world, said Sheffield. "We can envision a future where a crypto address becomes as important as your mailing address," he said.