Meta is expanding the rollout of NFTs across its platforms, despite a slowdown in the trading of digital assets.
Creators on Instagram will be able to make and sell their own NFTs — digital assets representing art or imagery that cannot be replicated — directly to fans, both on and off the platform, Meta said on Wednesday. Instagram already allows users to showcase NFTs on their pages.
It marks the largest push yet by a social media platform into NFTs. Rival platform Reddit launched collectible avatars in July, and users responded enthusiastically — nearly 3mn users now hold the digital assets. That is more than the 2mn buyers on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, according to data from Dune, a blockchain analytics company.
The plan was first reported by the Financial Times in January.
The rollout comes as the value of digital assets, derided by some as a speculative asset class, has fallen in 2022. Since the market peak in January, NFT trading volumes are down more than 90 per cent.
Meta is pushing for new income sources as the global economic slowdown hits its advertising revenue, with brands reining in marketing spending on their platforms. Meta shares dropped 25 per cent last week after it revealed that net income had fallen more than 50 per cent in the third quarter.
Meta has also been hit by competition from TikTok, whose success has come in part thanks to its ability to attract influencers to its platform.
In an interview with the Financial Times in July, Meta’s head of fintech, Stephane Kasriel, said the company’s focus on digital collectibles was part of a strategy to lure influencers and their fans to its platforms.
Meta has introduced other ways to allow fans to pay influencers they follow. All eligible creators on Instagram in the US will be able to launch subscriptions, allowing fans to pay monthly fees in exchange for exclusive content. That feature was first announced in July.
Meta’s Facebook is also rolling out its “stars” feature more widely, a form of in-platform currency that allows fans to pay creators when they like their content. It has launched “gifts” on Instagram in the US, a similar feature to “stars” that gives creators a new way to earn money from fans.
Apple last week expanded the 30 per cent cut it takes on in-app purchases to include NFTs. Meta, which has previously clashed with its Big Tech rival over the so-called “Apple tax”, said that any app sold through in-app purchasing on Apple or Google devices would be subject to a 30 per cent platform fee.