Visa just bought a CryptoPunk NFT for $150,000

August 23, 2021, 4:15 PM UTC

Visa has entered the NFT space.

The credit card and payments powerhouse said Monday it purchased CryptoPunk 7610, a female Punk with a mohawk, lipstick, and green-rimmed “clown” eyes.

Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks, created in 2017, was one of the first non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. The collection includes 10,000 unique pixelated profile images, some of which have sold for as much as $7 million.

Visa’s is one of 3,840 female CryptoPunks and was purchased by the company for about $150,000 last week as part of its first step into the world of NFT digital collectibles. Visa said in a Monday blog post that it bought its NFT mostly to learn, and that it worked with Anchorage Digital, a financial platform for digital assets, to purchase it.

In the blog post, the company said it invested in the NFT project because of its role in pioneering NFT technology and commerce.

“We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce,” Visa’s head of crypto, Cuy Sheffield, said in the blog post. “To help our clients and partners participate, we need a firsthand understanding of the infrastructure requirements for a global brand to purchase, store, and leverage an NFT.”

When Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks launched, the Punks could be claimed for free by anybody with an Ethereum wallet, and all of them were quickly claimed upon release. Four years later, Visa is betting that the NFT space will grow, and that the company will play a role in helping facilitate the billions being spent on the digital collectibles. The payments provider also seeks to help small businesses profit from the technology.

“NFTs give small businesses an opportunity to harness public blockchains for producing digital goods—which can be delivered instantly to a crypto wallet,” Sheffield said in the blog post. “We can envision a future in which your crypto address becomes as important as your mailing address.”

Although this is Visa’s first NFT purchase, it’s not its first time getting involved in digital payments. The company in recent years has built relationships with Coinbase, Circle, FTX, and others in an effort to diversify the revenue opportunities that come from digital transactions.

The company announced earlier this year that it had settled a transaction with a virtual currency for the first time. It also announced a partnership with about 50 crypto platforms via card programs in July and said it had facilitated more than $1 billion in transactions from crypto-linked Visa cards in the first half of 2021.

As for its foray into NFTs, Sheffield said there is more to come.

“With our CryptoPunk purchase, we’re jumping in feet first,” he said in the Monday blog post. “This is just the beginning of our work in this space.”

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