Meta has announced it will be cutting off support for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) across all its platforms just a year after launch, demonstrating a major retrenchment from CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s, dream of a soon-to-be metaverse.
“We’re winding down digital collectibles (NFTs) for now to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses,” Stephane Kasriel, fintech executive at Meta, tweeted this week (13 March).
The tech giant launched a feature allowing users to share NFTs on Facebook and Instagram early last year while the crypto market was still booming, and following a peak year in 2021 when the NFT market was said to be worth $49bn.
However, Zuckerberg’s dreams of a metaverse were dashed by the steep decline in NFT interest in May 2022 and further stalled by the collapse of one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX.
“NFTs were once inseparable from discussions of the metaverse, with digital art and clothing being hailed as the next step into the digital world,” Michelle Stark, sales and marketing director at Fasthosts, told Verdict.
“It will definitely be a huge blow to those hoping to capitalise on Meta’s various platforms integrating NFTs with everyday use,” she added.
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In a May interview last year, Zuckerberg discussed his excitement about users using NFTs as more than just a profile picture.
“It's not that far-fetched to imagine how being able to display some digital collectibles in your Instagram profile is a precursor to being able to have a shirt from your favorite brand that you can take from Horizon to then wear in Fortnite,” Zuckerberg had told Protocol.
Although Zuckerberg might have temporarily given up on his NFT-packed-metaverse dream, experts don’t believe NFTs are on their way out just yet.
“The constant pushes from large studios, companies, and even individuals to keep the market going really indicates that, whether we like it or not, they’re [NFTs] not leaving anytime soon,” Stark told Verdict.
“Yesterday even saw Sesame Street unveiling their own line of them, along with a recent job posting from The Pokémon Company looking to hire someone with NFT experience - hinting at a possible foray into the field.
"While a far cry from the 'digital revolution' fans of the tech was hoping for, it’s now a medium populated by enthusiasts and those wealthy enough to purchase the more outlandish options," Stark added.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.