As NFT sales continue to decline and interest in the first wave of digital collectibles appears to be waning, Meta is expanding support for digital collectibles by making the NFT viewing option available on Instagram. in more than 100 countries, which means that the vast majority of IG users will now have the opportunity to display their own works in the app.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted his own signed baseball card, soon to be an NFT, to announce the expansion.
Originally launched for select creators in the US back in May, Instagram’s NFT viewing option enables users to showcase their NFTs in the main IG feed, in Stories or in Direct Messages.
As you can see in this example, NFTs on Instagram will appear with a “digital collectibles” tag, which when tapped will reveal information about the creator of the work, and the ownership of the digital item.
A new NFT tab will also be added for participating accounts, with a tick in a hexagon to indicate confirmed NFTs.
Instagram’s NFT process supports a number of connections to the best crypto payment tools, including Coinbase, Dapper, Ethereum, Polygon and Flow. NFT owners can also link their Rainbow, Trust Wallet and MetaMask accounts to verify NFT ownership.
The expansion could lead to NFTs becoming a bigger part of the Instagram ecosystem, which on the one hand seems a bit ill-timed – because as mentioned, NFT sales are seeing a significant decline at the moment. But on the other hand, the integration will provide another way to support artists, with Meta specifically highlighting the benefits for creators from underrepresented communities to monetize their work.
If people keep buying them. According to a recent report from CoinTelegraph, NFT sales fell to their lowest levels in a year in June, bringing them back to essentially pre-NFT hype cycle levels.
Of course, the broader crypto market downturn will also play a big part in this, but the general consensus is that the air is coming out of the NFT market, as buyers continue to lose money – either to fraud or market changes – and the perceived value of NFT projects becomes less and less clear.
But still, this is probably just the first wave of digital collectibles.
Many Web3 people like to talk about how “early” they are to these trends, as if that’s a good thing, but the fact is that these early adopters are going to lose out, repeatedly, because these early projects will be mostly worthless in the long run, while NFTs, as an offering, will change and morph into new areas that may see them have value.
Just not so expensive comics that look like they were stolen from the walls of an elementary school corridor.
The long-term vision for NFTs is that they will enable trading of digital items in the metaverse, such as clothing for your avatar or items in the world. These types of marketplaces are already generating millions in gaming worlds, such as Fortnite and Roblox, and Meta’s view is that NFTs are the first step towards facilitating the same on a wider scale.
According to Meta:
“We are exploring a wide range of web3 technologies because we believe they will expand access, reduce costs and accelerate innovation, empowering people and creators around the world. We’re excited to continue listening to feedback from creators and collectors as we continue to build in this space.”
Whether crypto remains a central hub in this, or it reverts to fiat currency, the potential is there for the NFT framework to facilitate this type of cross-platform trading. But not yet.
So, yes, current Web3 people are early. But it may not be the flex they think.
On another front, Meta also notes that it works reduce the emission impact associated with the display of digital collectibles by purchasing renewable energy
There are different moving parts here, but the broader view is that this isn’t about showing your monkey photos in Instagram as the end, but it’s more of a stepping stone to enable Meta to integrate digital goods trading into its tools, in a way that is consistent with current usage trends, and doesn’t feel as intrusive as, for example, Meta building its own crypto-currency.
It will raise more questions, and open the door to increased regulation. But by integrating similar tools, and adapting to popular trends, it could be a more organic way to merge digital goods and payments, without raising as many eyebrows in the process.