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Visa makes inroads into NFTs with $150,000 purchase of 'cryptopunk'

Who said financial incumbents aren't down with the kids?

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Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Payments giant Visa has scooped up a 'cryptopunk' NFT (non-fungible token) for $150,000 worth of Ethereum.

NFTs are a way of recording ownership of something that exists in the digital realm, often a photo, image or piece of text. There have been 10,000 'cryptopunk avatars' created since in an artistic project launched in 2017 in the form of NFTs. All are stored on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing each image to be bought and sold digitally with prices of some popular avatars reaching $7m.

In a move not wholly explainable, Visa's head of crypto Cuy Sheffield says, the company's purchase of cryptopunk 7610, a green-eyed sullen example sporting a mohawk and red lipstick, represents a tentative move into the NFT space.

"We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce. To help our clients and partners participate, we need a firsthand understanding of the infrastructure requirements for a global brand to purchase, store, and leverage an NFT," he said. 

The idea is that while at present NFTs represent an eccentric melding of creative industries and cryptocurrency technology, there could be profound applications n the coming years as creators move into the field to create new revenue streams.

Visa, Sheffield adds, wanted to signal support for the creators, collectors, and artists "driving the future of NFT-commerce".

"Enabling buyers and sellers is what we do — whether its helping small and micro business owners get online, or making it easier for companies to pay their partners across borders. We’re excited to work with this growing community to make NFTs useable and accessible in a variety of contexts," said.

"Lastly, we wanted to collect an NFT that symbolizes the excitement and opportunity of this particular cultural moment. We’re a company steeped in the history of commerce and payments — but with our eyes on the future. With our CryptoPunk purchase, we’re jumping in feet first. This is just the beginning of our work in this space," he added.

While Visa presumably stumped up the cash, or at least Ethereum, the transaction was in fact carried out by Anchorage Digital.

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