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1st NFT marketplace launches in S. Korea

Humanoid robot Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, holds a brush during a demonstration before her nonfungible token artwork is auctioned, in Hong Kong on March 16. (Reuters)
Humanoid robot Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, holds a brush during a demonstration before her nonfungible token artwork is auctioned, in Hong Kong on March 16. (Reuters)


South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Korbit has launched a nonfungible token trading platform for the first time in the local crypto sector, the company said Monday.

An NFT is a unit of data on a blockchain and represents ownership of unique digital items, such as images, sound files or text. An NFT contains data of the ownership history and the original author. As it offers royalty to the original author every time the asset is traded, the NFT technology is being increasingly utilized in the art industry.

The crypto exchange said NFT creators or owners can put up their digital assets for sale on the firm’s website, and potential buyers can then bid for the NFTs. All transactions are carried out via Ethereum, the world’s second-largest crypto coin by market capitalization after Bitcoin.

“The local NFT market is still in a fledgling stage, compared to global ones, and the Korbit platform will help create synergy between the blockchain ecosystem and various sectors, including art, visual media and gaming,” Oh Se-jin, CEO of the local exchange, said in a statement.

Companies that have a range of intellectual property rights are expected to use Korbit’s platform to trade their IP assets. Gearing up to the launch, media commerce, gaming, and content companies have showed a keen interest in selling their assets on the NFT platform, and the company is currently in talks with some of them for partnerships, Korbit said.

Around 100,000 NFT art pieces, worth a combined 200 billion won ($179.9 million), were sold worldwide as of early March, according to Korbit, citing statistics compiled by crypto data provider CryptoArt.

In a local art auction in March, an NFT-based animated artwork created by a Korean artist, was sold for 288 Ether, or an equivalent to around $600,000, at the time.

“Young collectors in their 20-30s seem to think art is something special as they can own and enjoy while they can get some financial gains from it,” said Song Ja-ho, CEO of Pica Project, an art co-sharing platform operator which ran the March auction for NFT-based artworks.

The NFT market has seen an influx of artists and investors as some artworks have been selling for jaw-dropping prices.

In March, Sophia, a female humanoid robot, sold her digital artwork for $688,888 as an NFT in Hong Kong while a collage of 5,000 digital images stamped by American artist Beeple was sold for $69 million in a Christie’s auction.

Korean artist Baek Nam-june’s video artwork “Global Groove,” has been up for sale in an ongoing online Christie’s auction. The price estimates range from $100,000 to $200,000.

The NFT featuring a Go match between Korean grandmaster Lee Se-dol and artificial intelligence system AlphaGo was sold for 60 Ether, or equivalent to around $220,000, earlier this month.

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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