(NEXSTAR) — Meta, the technology parent company of Facebook and Instagram, may be entering the crypto marketplace soon — by enabling users to create, sell and buy original non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
The Financial Times reports that while plans are “at an early stage,” both social media platforms are preparing a feature that allows users to select existing NFTs as their profile pictures, in addition to letting user mint their own new tokens.
A marketplace within the platforms to sell and purchase NFTs is also under consideration, FT’s sources said.
Other social media platforms have already begun: Reddit began hiring for its planned NFT platform back in October, while Twitter’s reportedly tinkering with its new “Collectibles” section, which lets users display their non-fungible items.
You may be wondering: What’s an NFT?
Non-fungible tokens can be difficult to grasp but are essentially just one-of-a-kind digital pieces of content. These pieces are different than cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum because those pieces can be traded for ones of the same value, CNN Business explains. Trading bitcoin and ethereum is like trading an apple for another apple, but with NFTs, there’s only one apple available to trade among a bowl of oranges.
NFTs have flourished in the online art scene, with many artists finding avenues to create scarcity (NFTs come with certificates of authenticity) in a marketplace where images can be endlessly reproduced. These digital items can be in several forms, like GIFs and JPGs.
In October, auction company Sotheby’s, which specializes in artwork and other high-priced collectibles, launched Metaverse, its NFT-only marketplace.
Earlier this month, retail giant Walmart filed trademarks suggesting it may begin customer sales and purchases of NFTs. Some high-profile celebrities have also entered the game, including former First Lady Melania Trump and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Brady’s Autograph NFT platform recently raised $170 million for its athlete-centric showcase.
Currently, NFTs are mostly purchased on the OpenSea and Binance marketplaces.
Despite a boom in popularity, NFTs and cryptocurrency in general have generated criticism over the amount of energy they consume.