As high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and neo-rich Indians continue to invest in cryptocurrencies and diversify their investment portfolio, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are slowly but steadily gaining asset-class credibility. Now, with Bollywood celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Sunny Leone entering the fray, the global NFT momentum has suddenly caught the attention of the common man on the street in the country.
With Bollywood taking the lead, Indians are warming up to this new digital asset that has given creators and collaborators a fresh platform to earn better money while generating more value for their work.
NFTs allow people to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items in cryptocurrencies and keep track of who owns them using Blockchain. NFTs can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, artworks, tweets, animated GIFs, songs, poems, video games and more.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, which can be exchanged with one another, each NFT is unique and hence cannot be exchanged with another item.
NFT Begins Its India Journey
Touted as a global phenomenon, some NFT platforms have already been launched in India like WazirX NFT Marketplace, BeyondLife.club, Polygon-backed NFTically, Wall.app and Terrain.art. Cryptocurrency spot and derivatives exchange OKEx has also launched a decentralised digital asset ecosystem DeFi Hub in India that will consist of an NFT Marketplace.
Currently, there are 319 creators and 157 collectors on WazirX NFT Marketplace, who have minted nearly 2,986 pieces of NFTs, sold 1,008 NFT pieces via fixed-price mode and 121 via auction mode.
Vishakha Singh, VP, WazirX NFT Marketplace, told Inc42 that artists from the Indian entertainment industry are jumping into the game and the takers for NFTs in music, movies and sports are on the rise because collectors look at these NFTs not just as digital art but also as a great asset class to invest and trade in.
“A total of 2,986 NFTs have been minted on our platform, of which we have successfully sold 1,129 NFTs to date. With newer features being introduced to the marketplace, we see more creators and collectors jumping on the bandwagon,” she informed.
Indian Artists Begin to Prosper
On the Binance-owned WazirX platform, an NFT which was a collaborative artwork between pop icon Ritviz and visual artist Santanu Hazarika was recently sold for $391.8 within 10 seconds of going live.
According to Hazarika, the global NFT market is slowly becoming a crucial promotional tool for all artists to monetise their work and uniquely engage with their community of collectors and fans who value art.
“With NFTs, artists are now open to working with anyone,” Hazarika said.
TV host and actor Vishal Malhotra recently collaborated with artist Ishita Banerjee to release an NFT which was sold for 2.5 Ethereum ($5,500) — five times the listed price. An exhibition featuring the artworks of Bengal-born artist, Lalu Prasad Shaw, certified using NFTs was on at Terrain.art in July.
“Terrain.art is delighted to be one of the first Blockchain-powered platforms in India to register artworks using NFTs, presenting new works and those with prior histories through curated exhibitions,” said its founder Aparajita Jain.
NFTs are changing the landscape of art and entertainment by making it easier than ever for fans to support their favourite creators and for artists to mint and trade unique, collectible pieces.
According to Jay Hao, CEO, OKEx, the NFT adoption in India is growing at a very fast pace and there is an urgent need for an organised platform that will enable artists to create and trade their artworks in a highly secure digital ecosystem.
“OKEx NFT marketplace will exclude the middlemen which will ensure maximum value for the artist who put in their hard work in creating the art. This provides Indian artists with an opportunity to offer their art to an international audience and similarly, allows Indian users to access the artwork from international artists,” he elaborated.
Bollywood Gives That Extra Push
With Bachchan and Leone, all set to become the first Bollywood personalities to roll out their own NFTs, the masses in India are now keen to know more about the new crypto asset.
Bachchan’s NFTs, to be rolled out in November, will include artworks like verses from his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s legendary work Madhushala, Big B’s own works, signed posters of his movies and other rare things from his life converted into digital artwork.
The NFTs will be launched on BeyondLife.club, a conglomeration of Rhiti Entertainment, Singapore, and GuardianLink.io, a no-code NFT exchange platform.
The platform will support more artists from India and provide them with a gateway to sell their digital artwork.
“It’s astounding to see how suddenly NFT is a hot favourite among artists across the world to create financial value for their content. The opportunities and the growth possibilities that are present within this space is beyond imagination,” said Arun Pandey, MD and Chairman, Rhiti Group.
As compared to artists across the globe, Indian artists are just picking up steam in terms of participating in the world of NFTs.
“GuardianLink.io with its no-code NFT Exchange framework and its deep Legitimacy Protocol Infrastructure is bridging the gap between crypto-savvy and collectors of the world by eliminating the complexity of participation in the space,” said Keyur Patel, Co-founder, Rhiti Entertainment & Chairman of GuardianLink.io.
Leone has set up a website called ‘sunnyleonenft.com’ to share her collection crafted, designed (costumes and animation) by artists from across the world.
“NFTs give me an opportunity to express myself with art. Each one of my NFTs will be 100% unique from one another and will have different levels of rarity – rare, super rare, and ultra-rare. Each NFT will be able to be used later in the future to unlock content and maybe even experiences with me. It’s important to me that we create an NFT collection that lives longer than just a one-time release,” Leone said.
From Global Stage to Local
NFTs have been around since 2014. However, as the world went digital post the pandemic, the market witnessed an immense boom and became the talk of the town in no time, including in India.
Since the NFTs are interoperable, anyone can later transfer the NFT to a different cryptocurrency such as Ethereum.
“We are happy to pioneer in bringing NFTs home in India and pave the way for creators and provide them a great way to capitalise on unique assets, engage with their fans, and potentially generate revenue, while staying ahead of the curve and keeping pace with innovations in commerce and technology. Today, NFTs are rapidly growing in popularity in all niches across India,” Singh noted.
On the global stage, digital artist Michael Winkelmann or Beeple sold one of his NFT arts for nearly $70 Mn earlier this year. An NFT artwork by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was sold for more than $5.4 Mn in April. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even sold his first tweet as an NFT for over $2.9 Mn.
According to Capgemini’s World Wealth Report (WWR), with the current stock market surge, HNWIs are seeking to diversify their portfolio with alternative investments.
“Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are becoming more popular, while non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are slowly gaining asset-class credibility,” the report said.