Snap is exploring plans to allow users to showcase non-fungible tokens on its app, as social media platforms increasingly turn to digital collectibles as a means of attracting influencers and their fans despite the crypto crash.
The Los Angeles-based social media platform is preparing to test a feature that would allow NFT artists to showcase their designs on the Snapchat platform as augmented reality filters, according to two people familiar with the situation.
The test, which is being run with a handful of “creators”, is scheduled to start at the end of August, one of the people said.
Snap has built up a roster of developers who use its platform to create playful AR filters for users, known as Lenses, which can be overlaid on to real-world images.
Developers will be able to mint, or create, NFTs via a third-party service off the platform, before transferring them to Snap as Lenses. The technology would ensure those filters are attributable to that creator.
While the NFT effort is at an early stage, it marks the first foray in the freewheeling world of digital assets for Snap, which offers private messaging and cute photo features to its largely millennial and younger Generation Z audience.
Social media companies are increasingly vying to attract online talent, in the hope of boosting broader user numbers and engagement in the face of rising competition from newer Chinese-owned entrant TikTok.
Snap does not have any plans to charge the creators for showcasing NFTs, one person said, but it is exploring partnerships with third parties that could help the creators monetise their designs.
Snap rival Meta in particular has plans to roll out access to digital collectibles to its 3bn users over time as part of luring creators to its apps, its head of fintech Stephane Kasriel told the Financial Times last week. It hopes to build an online avatar-filled world known as the metaverse, where users will use NFTs to create and trade digital goods and services, Kasriel said. Meanwhile smaller rival Reddit on Thursday announced plans to launch its own NFT avatars collection.
NFTs use blockchain technology to certify the authenticity and ownership of digital art and goods.
Digital collectibles exploded in popularity last year to become a global market worth $40bn, primarily used as a tool for retail speculation. But as the hype has subsided, prices have plunged in line with a broader rout of crypto assets in the past two months.
Like other social media groups, Snap has been investing in new features to help creators earn a living directly from the platform. This has included sharing some revenues it generates from advertising with certain influencers and offering cash prizes for top-performing posts, for example.