Credit card giant Visa has launched an NFT Creator program to bring small businesses into the digital economy.
“We’ve seen rapid growth in the NFT ecosystem over the past year,” Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, told TechCrunch. “We believe that NFTs represent a new form of e-commerce.”
The idea of a small business is evolving from traditional “mom and pop shops” to other independent businesses with creators and entrepreneurs looking to build digitally-focused businesses and leverage new tools like NFTs, Sheffield said.
The year-long immersion program, the Visa Creator Program, will bring together a global cohort of creators, including artists, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers, who will have the opportunity to build their businesses through NFTs.
There is no “hard cap” on the number of developers for the first cohort, and all members will have access to Visa clients and a broader network of mentors, Sheffield noted.
“Big retailers and brands ask how they can get involved every day,” said Sheffield. “What we’re so excited about NFTs is that we believe it lowers the barrier to entry for people to start a business and start selling online.”
The traditional way of selling physical goods involves a lot of logistics, which can be challenging for small businesses and individuals to compete and scale. “NFTs allow someone who is creative, talented and artistic to produce something good entirely digitally,” Sheffield said.
Micah Johnson, a former major league baseball player and current artist behind Aku, was one of the cohort’s early participants. Visa previously announced the partnership in October 2021, but did not disclose that it was involved with the program at the time.
Johnson’s Aku NFTs are based on a character created by Johnson after hearing his nephew ask, “Can astronauts be black?”
His ten-piece collection features black male astronauts posing in a range of elements from helmets covered in spaghetti and meatballs to a simple, sleek white helmet. According to him, the current minimum price of the Aku NFT is between 1,790 and 37,000 US dollars website.
“I’ve seen firsthand how NFTs can support artists,” Johnson told TechCrunch. “I literally painted in my garage with this idea, this mission, and grew it into a global company. Without NFTs, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”
Visa is no stranger to the crypto community and has championed it for the past 12 months. It previously made headlines for buying a popular CryptoPunk NFT in August 2021 and Sheffield did called that the purchase would not be the company’s only NFT.
Aside from collecting NFTs, Visa has expanded its crypto team and launched a crypto advisory practice in December 2021 to help clients and partners consider deep dives into space.
“We think, that [NFTs] are a fundamental primitive tool that can transform commerce and create new opportunities,” Sheffield said. “But there’s still a lot of questions about how it’s shaping up? Which blockchains use? How do you stand out? How do you reach customers? So we want to learn as much from the makers as we think they can learn from us.”
Going forward, Visa wants to embed itself in these crypto technologies to track the future of commerce, Sheffield said. “We’re incredibly excited about NFTs,” said Sheffield. “We want everyone [NFT] Marketplace to be able to accept Visa cards because we believe NFTs will exist on many different networks.”
As for the next steps? Visa wants to make buying an NFT as easy as buying anything else online, Sheffield said.
“What we found is that today the experience can be quite difficult, requiring multiple steps to go to an exchange, buy cryptocurrency and transfer it to another wallet… it’s very difficult for new consumers to go into the Room to come,” Sheffield said.
Aside from this program, the credit card company is looking at other ways to make NFTs more accessible for consumers to purchase and access. There are a “set of initiatives” Visa is working on to help consumers get started with the space, but Sheffield hasn’t announced a timeline for future NFT-focused product launches or services with the company.
“Small business and commerce play a really important role in building communities in cities and neighborhoods around the world,” Sheffield said. “It’s a friendly face you see at a local barber [or] local bakery. And now we see creators using trade and NFTs to build like-minded communities of people around the world who come together because they share common beliefs or ideals.”
Visa launches NFT program as it considers the digital art a new form of ecommerce – TechCrunch Source link Visa launches NFT program as it considers the digital art a new form of ecommerce – TechCrunch