- Instagram is "actively exploring" how to bring NFTs to a wider audience, CEO Adam Mosseri confirmed Saturday.
- The platform's move comes after parent company Facebook rebranded as "Meta" as it pivoted to the metaverse.
- The integration could enable people to bid for NFTs directly on Instagram, screenshots from an app developer showed.
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Instagram is looking for a way to bring NFTs to its social networking platform and its two billion users, as its parent company Meta makes a push into the metaverse.
The company's CEO, Adam Mosseri, said at the weekend it is working on building features that incorporate non-fungible tokens.
While these one-of-a-kind digital assets are popular as modern-day art or video collectibles, they are also a digital key to unlocking a metaverse, as they can convey ownership within a virtual world.
"Nothing to announce yet, but we are definitely actively exploring NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience," Mosseri said in an Instagram story posted Saturday.
"I think it's an interesting place where we can play, and also a way to hopefully help creators."
NFTs are traded online, often linked to a cryptocurrency, and are generally recorded on a blockchain. They've experienced an explosion in public interest in 2021. Their total sales so far this year has surged to a whopping $12 billion (R190 billion), driven in part by the likes of big brands like Nike making a push into NFTs and virtual worlds.
In July, Instagram's parent company sparked a wave of interest in the metaverse when it rebranded as "Meta" and refocus on the metaverse, a catch-all term for virtual spaces where people can play, work, trade and in general interact digitally using avatars.
"From now on, we'll be metaverse first, not Facebook first," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time, saying he wanted to transform Facebook from a social media company into a "metaverse company."
But crypto-focused companies like The Sandbox, which are gunning for "decentralised" virtual worlds, fear that big-tech companies like Meta could dominate the metaverse just as it dominates social media.
Investors should expect to see a "battle between crypto native metaverses and ones launched by gaming and corporate entities like Meta," Brock Pierce, chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, told Insider.
As of December, Instagram has roughly two billion monthly active users, according to CNBC.
While Mosseri didn't elaborate further in his Instagram post, his comments suggest the photo- and video-sharing social network might provide its users with tools to showcase the NFTs they create, or let people follow their favorite creators.
App developer Alessandro Paluzzi first shared details of Instagram's NFT-related plans in July, sharing screenshots on Twitter.
Instagram posts may come with a "collectible" label, to mark NFTs held by a user within a dedicated section, the screenshots showed.
Paluzzi also shared a feature that shows users could be allowed to make bids for NFTs directly on Instagram, and he noted that Instagram is likely to support Coinbase and MetaMask crypto wallets, as well as Facebook's Novi wallet.
Instagram didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on its NFT plans.