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Meta is testing a way to mint and sell NFTs on Instagram

Meta is testing a way to mint and sell NFTs on Instagram

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Your favorite creator may start trying to sell you digital collectibles, aka blockchain based tokens, if Meta gets its way.

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Image of the Meta logo and work mark on a blue background, bordered by black scribbles made out of the Meta logo.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Meta has announced that it’s testing minting and selling NFTs on Instagram, like you can with many traditional NFT marketplaces, with a “small group of creators in the US” getting access to the feature first. The company’s also expanding Instagram’s NFT showcase feature, which it recently made available to users in over 100 countries. The announcement comes among news of several new ways for creators to make money on its platforms.

Meta says its digital collectibles toolkit will let people create NFTs on the Polygon blockchain (as always, no relation to Polygon the video game news outlet) and then sell them either on Instagram or off the platform. When it comes to displaying NFTs that you’ve purchased elsewhere, the company says you can now show off ones from the Solana blockchain, in addition to the Ethereum, Polygon, and Flow blockchains that the feature already supported. It’s also adding some metadata from OpenSea to the display, similar to what Twitter does for its NFT profile picture feature.

Four screenshots showing the process of listing, selling, and buying “collectibles” on Instagram.
Top: the process of making and selling NFTs on Instagram. Bottom: the process of buying an NFT on Instagram.
Image: Meta

All of this comes as Meta’s adding new ways for creators to make money on its platforms. On Monday, it announced it’s expanding the rollout of professional mode, which gives you access to certain tools and monetization options, such as its Stars virtual currency tipping system (which it’s also expanding). It’s also adding something called gifts on Instagram, where fans can basically send money to a creator while watching one of their Reels — the gifts, of course, are purchased with Stars. Like the NFT creation tools, this is being tested with a few US-based creators for now.

The system sounds very similar to TikTok’s Coins and Gifts monetization scheme, or YouTube’s Super Thanks feature but that’s not necessarily a surprise. Both platforms very much seem to be in the process of trying to figure out ways to let creators monetize their work. Of course, Meta is also trying to capture the runaway popularity that TikTok has enjoyed, especially among young people, and part of that involves enticing popular creators from that platform to also post on Instagram. It’s telling that it’s launching gifts with Reels, its version of TikTok videos, and not, say, photo posts.

As Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said last year, Meta doesn’t see Instagram as a photo sharing app anymore — it sees it as an entertainment app. And entertainers need to make money, whether its through somewhat traditional methods like sharing ad revenue, or by selling NFTs and getting fans to directly send them money in the form of gifts, coins, or stars.