NFT gained another major institution supporting and believing in the technology. On August 23, 2021, Visa announced its purchase of a CryptoPunk avatar for 49.5 ETH, or roughly $150,000. It is yet another sign of the quickly spreading technology turning into a mainstay of the economy, rather than a fad.
According to Visa’s Head of Crypto, Cuy Sheffield, the move to purchase the NFT was borne from a desire to learn about the process of acquiring an NFT work. As one of the leaders of the financial service company, Visa wanted to expand its service to include cryptocurrency and the purchase of the highly sought-after NFTs. “We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,” said Sheffield. By purchasing a CryptoPunk avatar, Visa gained insight into the process, which they will then use to advise their clients on similar purchases. They are also looking into creating “new concepts and partnerships that support NFT buyers, sellers, and creators.”
Within an hour of Visa’s NFT purchase, Cryptopunk sold 90 avatars for close to $20 million. On the day of the announcement, CryptoPunk broke its single-day record, making over $86 million. In comparison, the collection only sold 39 sold for $8.4 million the day before. As of writing, the lowest price for a CryptoPunk avatar is equivalent to almost $385,000.
Widely considered as the first NFT project, CryptoPunk is a project by Larva Labs that generates 10,000 unique avatars. While it was popular amongst crypto and tech enthusiasts, CryptoPunk received wider recognition when NFT became a major news topic with the sale of Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5000 Days”. On August 28, the project crossed over a major threshold of $1 billion in lifetime sales.
It goes to show that a little push from a major institution — like Christie’s with Beeple’s work — can advance a “fad” into something that everyone is clamoring for.