MoonPay expands further into NFTs despite crypto slump

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CRYPTO payments company MoonPay is partnering with major entertainment brands as it expands further into the struggling non-fungible token (NFT) market. Fox, Universal Pictures, Creative Artists Agency and Death Row Records will create NFT collections using HyperMint, MoonPay's platform for minting digital assets, the company plans to announce Tuesday (Jun 21).

MoonPay didn't elaborate on exactly what kind of NFTs these brands would create, but Ivan Soto-Wright, MoonPay's co-founder and chief executive officer, said the company is eyeing sports, film, music, fashion and gaming as areas that could benefit from the technology. For example, NFT tickets for football games could entitle fans to special experiences and memorabilia. And MoonPay could help companies like Universal Pictures release NFTs tied to movie releases. Soto-Wright is also interested in exploring NFT music licences that would give artists more control over how they monetise their music.

MoonPay's announcement comes as the price of NFTs has been slammed by the broader crypto downturn. While prices of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ether continue to plummet, sales of NFTs have dropped as well. These tokens reached US$3 billion in monthly global sales during the month of May, a 35 per cent drop when compared to January, according to NFT data tracker CryptoSlam.

But Soto-Wright says that despite the volatility, NFTs as a technology still have room to grow. With HyperMint, MoonPay is hoping to find better real-world uses for the technology. "What NFTs look like today is not necessarily what NFTs are going to look like tomorrow," he said.

Some of the new applications MoonPay's HyperMint platform has already found include an NFT collection of digital clothing that corresponds with physical merchandise for UK department store chain Selfridges & Co, Soto-Wright said. The company has also partnered with esports organisation FaZe Clan to create NFTs related to online gaming.

Based in Miami, MoonPay aims to make it easier for customers to purchase cryptocurrencies using a credit card. The company raised US$555 million in November in a funding round from investors including Tiger Global Management and Coatue Management, and began building out HyperMint this year. The platform can mint hundreds of millions of NFTs over the course of a day and is compatible with multiple blockchains, Soto-Wright said.

Unlike other crypto companies that have been besieged by layoffs, such as Coinbase Global, BlockFi and Gemini Trust Co, MoonPay is looking to expand its headcount, according to Soto-Wright. He said the company is interested in scooping up talent laid off by competitors and is prepared for ongoing volatility in the industry.

"That's just part of doing business in crypto," Soto-Wright said. BLOOMBERG



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