Last week, Visa paid 49.5 of the cryptocurrency ethereum for a non-fungible token (NFT) of a digital artwork called a CryptoPunk. The value of ethereum at the time was approximately $150,000. The NFT entitles Visa to exclusive ownership of the digital CryptoPunk artwork.
While the acquisition comes amid a furor of increased activity in the cutting edge of the finance world—the value of ethereum has already shot up by more than 10% since last week’s purchase—Visa situates its new property in a long history of financial artifacts.
On its Monday announcement of the purchase on Twitter, Visa included CryptoPunk #7610 in its collection of important commerce items including the zip-zap machine and early credit cards printed on paper. The CryptoPunk collection, made up of 10,000 unique pixelated art portraits, has been hailed as a landmark work in creative NFT projects, and each CryptoPunk is highly sought after by collectors.
Visa’s acquisition lends further respectability to NFTs, in a trend that is looking to continue: from 2020 to 2021, the NFT market shot up from just over $10 million to $2.5 billion and rising, with more than $1 billion in NFT trades in August 2021 alone. Visa’s head of Crypto, Cuy Sheffield, alluded to this purchase being only the beginning of Visa’s work in the field of NFTs.