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Why web2 legitimation is important for web3 to thrive

Did you know that Instagram boasts 2 billion monthly active users? That’s over 28% of the world’s population. 2022 saw Meta Platforms begin testing out NFT sharing, allowing select users to connect to their digital wallets and showcase NFTs that they either created or bought.

While we are certainly not there yet, the adoption of an NFT feature by such a major player could certainly help the format finally reach mainstream adoption because of its expansive reach. The growth is certainly, well, growing seeing that only a couple of months ago, Instagram slowly started expanding its Digital Collectibles feature, allowing select digital artists to begin minting and selling NFTs directly on the platform.

What’s so clever about Instagram’s implementation of NFTs is that it doesn’t seem to be too much too soon for non-web3 active users. For example, users on Instagram pay for NFTs in fiat currency, eliminating an otherwise challenging on-ramp for Web3 newcomers.

Nevertheless, as with the introduction of any new medium, challenges are presented. For example, would seasoned NFT collectors be interested in purchasing assets sold on a highly centralised, Web2 platform. The issue of fees (between 15% to 30% from Apple and Google) also applies. 

However, Instagram has done well to legitimise this introduction of blockchain technology through its partnerships with well respected NFT creators such as Drifter Shoots (aka Isaac Wright), Refik Anadol, Amber Vittoria, Dave Krugman and Micah Johnson.

“Digital collectibles make a lot of sense when you consider where many of us do our social signalling,” Krugman wrote in a post on Instagram teasing his first NFT drop in November.

Other popular NFT artists, such as Maliha Abidi and Bobby Hundreds, have used the platform to show off their NFT creations, praising the feature as an accessible way to reach prospective buyers.

“We’re stoked to usher in the feature, not only because it brings up the conversation of NFTs to the platform, but because it gives us the chance to re-educate the bright future we see ahead for NFTs and Web3,” Adam Bomb Squad, Bobby Hundreds’ NFT collection, wrote in a post showing off one of its signature characters.

The disparity between web2 and web3 platforms is a tricky one. Much of the way web2 platforms operate goes against web3 ethics, however, without a bridge to connect the transition, web3 fails to be legitimised and, arguably most importantly, introduced to a wider, more mainstream audience.
For this reason, however, efforts by major web2 platforms such as Meta to release NFTs or buy land in the metaverse are sometimes seen as “PR stunts” that pander to Web3 enthusiasts, and are not always well-received.

So far, Instagram’s methodical entry into Web3 has shown promise for other Web2 brands looking to make the jump. It highlights how NFTs and other crypto assets can be used to expand business offerings and provide an accessible entry point for Web3-curious consumers without isolating the Web3 natives that have supported the NFT market all along.

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