In recent years, Singapore has greeted blockchain technology with open hands. It’s no surprise, then, that the country has witnessed some of the most exciting developments in the NFT space.
Although they have been circulating on the Internet since 2014, NFTs really took the world by storm in early 2021. They recorded a total sales volume of around $ 20 billion during the year. This is an increase of over 20,000% compared to 2020.
In fact, NFT’s biggest buy in 2021 – worth US $ 69.7 million – was worth more than half of the previous year’s sales combined.
This phenomenal growth has seen investors pump money into the industry. NFTs have gone from being seen as a vehicle for internet memes to a gold mine with untapped potential.
As 2022 begins to find its place, more and more companies seem to be exploring this ever-changing space. Here are the main NFT developments from the past year, which signal what awaits Singapore’s future in the metaverse.
Entrepreneur S’porean spends $ 69.7 million on Beeple NFT
March 2021 marked a monumental occasion when the NFTs finally broke through and took control of the mainstream media.
Digital artist Beeple has auctioned an NFT collage made up of 5,000 of his works. He had started the project in 2007 and was committed to creating a new piece of art every day.
The final product, titled “Everydays – the first 5,000 days” sold for US $ 69.7 million.This made it the most expensive digital artwork ever sold.
Although anonymous at the time of purchase, the buyer chose to reveal himself soon after. Singapore-based entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan told CNBC he bought the NFT because it will become an important piece of art history. He was willing to bid even higher if it had been necessary.
The sale of the Beeple NFT was reported around the world and paved the way for NFTs to become the global phenomenon that they are today.
NFT marketplaces compensate for shopping center closures
Although the pandemic has caused the closure of physical stores and shopping malls, NFT markets have had no problem getting started.
In July 2021, Singapore-based NFT marketplace Mintable raised US $ 13 million in Series A funding. Investors included Mark Cuban, a billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the NBA team; Ripple Labs, the company behind the XRP cryptocurrency; and MetaPurse, an NFT investment fund backed by Vignesh Sundaresan (the one who bought the Beeple NFT).
Mintable has since launched NFTs in conjunction with companies such as BAPE and CNBC. The best-selling NFT collection on the platform was released with NFL quarterback Trevor Lawrence, which sold for around US $ 230,000.
Brytehall was another Singaporean NFT platform that came to fruition in 2021. It was created to bring luxury art and fashion into the metaverse.
The platform held its first auction in December in partnership with the American bicycle company Specialized. ‘enishi-E: The Living Bicycle’ sold for US $ 50,000.
Created by the founders of Media Publishares, Brytehall was also responsible for launching the NFT collections of Vogue and Esquire in Singapore.
The latest edition of Singapore’s NFT scene is ARC, an exclusive digital community founded by Kiat Lin, son of Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim. ARC has ambitions to launch its own iteration of the Metaverse in the near future.
Singapore’s first large-scale NFT exhibition takes place in a free port
In November 2021, the Singaporean crypto exchange Coinhako partnered with the research center Appetite to host the country’s first NFT exhibition.
It was titled Right click + Save, a reference to everyone’s initial skepticism towards TVN: “Buy a .jpeg?” But I could just right click and hit save.
The exhibition examined the evolution of digital art and NFT culture through landmark works by creators such as Andy Warhol, Beeple, and Refik Anadol.
Out of irony, Right click + Save was hosted at Freeport.
Freeport is an extremely private storage facility, which is used to facilitate the trade of high value goods such as art and jewelry. They exist as special economic zones where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. These facilities have often been the subject of allegations of money laundering.
NFTs have also been the subject of similar criticism. Since their value is entirely subjective and their usefulness not always apparent, skeptics have often dismissed NFTs as money laundering tools.
Print media ensure they will live forever
After all of their time writing about NFT, the Singaporean media couldn’t help but capitalize on the trend itself.
In August 2021, Vogue Singapore released a collection of 40,000 mystery boxes on Binance. Each box costs US $ 20 and contains one of 10 different works of art depicting an astronaut exploring a famous city.
The entire collection sold out overnight and was one of Binance’s fastest mystery box sales.
Later in the year, Vogue Singapore ventured into NFTs again, with a collection featuring works by renowned designers such as Shavonne Wong and Chad Knight. The collection also featured an exclusive collaboration with luxury fashion house Balmain.
In addition, The Straits Times raised over US $ 15,000 in charitable products from its first NFT collection. The top-price sale featured an image from a Straits Times column titled “Owning a Piece of the Metaverse.”
The collection also included a work of art titled “The Permanence of Cats” – a parody of “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali, with all watches replaced by cats.
Esquire Singapore jumped on the NFT wave at the end of the year in partnership with The Dematerialized. The lifestyle title released a collection of NFT sneakers designed by Singaporean artist Tobyato. Exploring phygital concepts in the Metaverse, the rarer NFT sneakers were sold with physical replicas.
Local artists find a new creative outlet
2021 has been a particularly difficult year for artists in Singapore. At the height of the pandemic, a survey by Milieu Insight revealed how much the country values creative activities.
Not a lot, it turned out. 71 percent of respondents rated the work of an artist as the least essential of all. Those in creative roles were among the first to be fired as companies went through a period of downturn.
For some creators, NFTs provided an outlet to continue pursuing their passions.
Singaporean artist Chanel Lee has left the corporate world to launch her own NFT collection featuring 7,600 pieces of toast art.
Alan Seng left a tech start-up and teamed up with art student Marc Yap to launch digital trading cards. Their “Dark Zodiac” collection grossed over US $ 1 million within the first hour of launch.
Fashion photographer Shavonne Wong has also started selling her 3D art in the form of NFT and achieved sales of over US $ 60,000 in 2021.
Are NFTs Here to Stay?
It’s hard to imagine that an industry worth over US $ 40 billion will disappear overnight. Over the past year, the NFTs have faced the wrath of skeptics and come out unscathed.
Today, the utility of these tokens has grown beyond collectible art. NFTs are used as vouchers, governance tools and virtual real estate.
It’s hard to predict the future of such a dynamic space, or what form NFTs might take next, but it’s safe to say they will be here for some time to come.
Featured Image Credit: Reuters
Also read: From Binance.sg Release to Digital Dollar: Here are S’pore’s Key Crypto Developments in H2 2021
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