Crypto start-up MoonPay in NFT deal with Universal, Fox

Ivan Soto-Wright, co-founder and CEO of MoonPay, at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami.


Cryptocurrency startup MoonPay said Tuesday it is partnering with Universal Pictures, Fox Corporation and Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Records, among other brands, to launch a new NFT platform called HyperMint.

The new platform allows big brands, agencies and companies to mint hundreds of millions of NFT a day, expanding an operation that had previously been using blockchain technology for months. It was formally announced later Tuesday during a conference that MoonPay CEO Ivan Soto-Wright will give at Radio City Music Hall as part of this week’s NFT.NYC conference in New York City.

The platform and its underlying technology present a great opportunity for legacy brands like Universal and Fox, which are based on decades of intellectual property.

NFTs are digital assets that represent real-world objects, such as art, music, and real estate, and cannot be replicated. In recent months, major brands in all sectors, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Gucci and the National Football League, have incorporated NFT into their marketing initiatives.

“The potential of NFTs goes beyond collection; it’s utility. You can essentially program anything in these NFTs over time, so we decided to focus on this new product offering,” Soto-Wright told CNBC. “This really makes this change possible; it goes beyond the collectibility and usefulness of the program in these NFTs and there needs to be enterprise-level tools.”

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Founded in 2018, Miami-based software MoonPay allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using conventional payment methods such as credit cards, bank transfers or mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also sells its technology to other companies, including the cryptocurrency website and the non-fungible token market OpenSea, a model Soto-Wright calls “crypto-like-service.”

Soto-Wright said earlier that the company aims to make cryptography accessible to the masses in the same way that video conferencing tools like Zoom have made it easier to make calls over the Internet.

MoonPay’s argument for investors is that it offers a “gateway” to digital assets. For now, that includes bitcoins, ether, and other digital tokens like NFT. The recent market volatility and risk-free investor environment has not been kind to cryptocurrency trading, but Soto-Wright’s vision is to expand the platform to include everything from digital fashion to tokenized stocks.

The company’s latest product launch comes amid prolonged cryptocurrency sales, as investors continue to struggle with aggressive Federal Reserve interest rate hikes and a worsening liquidity crisis that has led major players to financial difficulties. The cryptocurrency space is still suffering the consequences of the $ 60 billion collapse of two major tokens last month.

“It’s been a tough few months for crypto,” Soto-Wright said. “I’ve seen many of these different cycles before. I’ve seen this movie. There will always be periods of volatility. It’s a whole new asset class and we have a new subset of that asset class, which is the NFT.”

MoonPay says it has been profitable since launching its platform in 2019. Its service is now used by more than 10 million customers in 160 countries. Last month, MoonPay added more than 60 famous investors to its balance sheet, including Justin Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow, Snoop Dogg and Ashton Kutcher, among others. Altogether, its new investors have invested $ 87 million in a previously announced $ 555 million round of financing led by Tiger Global and Coatue, valuing the company at $ 3.4 billion.

Bitcoin bounced back on Monday, after the cryptocurrency fell below its 2017 high over the weekend, when it traded at a low of $ 17,601.58. Bitcoin is still 70% below its all-time high, reached in November, and has fallen 57% to date. Ether was also higher in trading on Monday.

“I think it makes sense for us to go through periods of price discovery and irrational exuberance … people are finally starting to question the value of things and I think that’s why the change is beyond looking at NFTs as collectibles, but being able to program the utility in them is going to be very, very important, “Soto-Wright said. “We need to take that set of tools and put together the biggest brands and the biggest creators to work on the use cases that will really matter.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

MoonPay ranked 44th on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list. Sign up for our original weekly newsletter that goes beyond the annual Disruptor 50 list and provides a closer look at the companies that create lists and their innovative founders.

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