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Slowly but steadily, Web3 is gradually creeping into mainstream consciousness as companies across sectors jump onto the bandwagon of releasing features that support this latest technological development. Services like creating digital fashion pieces to owning pieces of virtual land on the metaverse are increasingly the norm.

Of the suite of features available on Web3, NFTs are perhaps the most popular within the crypto community. Along with the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, transactions within the space also climbed to reach a peak point last November. The allure of crypto assets comes from monetary gains, and blue-chip NFTs from Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks can easily hit millions of dollars. For many, this is a sure-fire way to amass wealth in the shortest time.

Bored Ape Yacht Club

While many have become millionaires during this “golden age”, the current situation is not a joyful affair. Pundits have termed this period the “crypto winter”, where prices have reached an all-time low. For example, NFT sales have for the first time not hit the US$1 billion mark in July since June 2021. Marketplaces like OpenSea even reported a 79 per cent fall in sales and laid off about 20 per cent of its staff in mid-July.

Things are not looking great at the moment for the NFT community as the market undergoes a consolidation period to smoothen out the kinks around. While the industry corrects itself and regains a foothold, social media companies are not taking the backseat. Meta announced that Instagram would introduce its Digital Collectible feature to users in more than 100 countries after completing its beta testing in May early this year. Meta, the parent company of Instagram, said that this new feature would enable people to share NFT images on their account, and it will be linked to a digital wallet like MetaMask, Rainbow, Coinbase, Trust Wallet and Dapper. Users can also tag the creator of the NFT on the post and provide exposure for these digital creators who earn a living from their creations.

Image: Meta

Having a conglomerate like Meta committing to Web3 helps to legitimise the move towards the new era of the internet. Starting with Instagram, one of the most used platforms, it could bolster courage for other companies to take the first into the world of Web3. As more users become acquainted with the uses of Web3 through interaction with NFTs, it has the potential to scale up and adoption be made easier in the long run. The benefits that could be reaped for consumers and companies are enormous and NFTs are only the start of this impending digital revolution.

On average, Instagram boasts approximately two billion monthly active users. For NFT creators, to be able even to capture a fraction of this massive audience could help their careers. The move to integrate NFTs into a social media platform is not novel; competitors like Twitter, Reddit and Snapchat have experimented with it. This can range from allowing users to set their NFT as their Twitter profile picture to creating a marketplace for fixed-price NFT over at Reddit, while Snapchat has been testing NFTs as AR filters.

Cryptopunk
CryptoPunk

To differentiate from the regular posts, NFTs posted on Instagram will have a shimmery effect and are indicated with a hexagonal icon at the top right. Upon clicking it, information such as who has created this NFT will be displayed, but users are not able to buy directly from the post. Adding the buy function could enable users to have a more complete experience. As mentioned, these NFTs will be linked to a wallet and information regarding that particular piece can be traced back to its source. Any problem relating to provenance is potentially mitigated as each NFT is encoded on the blockchain with information readily obtainable.

Earlier in May, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared that the company is moving to bring augmented reality NFTs to its Instagram Stories where digital art can be superimposed into physical spaces. This aligns with the company’s continued progress in integrating the metaverse into its platforms.

Other significant players across industries have already started their move into Web3. From fashion brands like Gucci debuting NFTs to international banks such as JP Morgan purchasing a piece of virtual property in Decentraland, investments are pouring in. The present obstacle that is stalling the advancement of Web3 is its lack of a strong base of users and Instagram could be that missing piece of the puzzle that kickstarts the engine for Web3.

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By Tahmied

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