Digital art collecting platform Neon has launched the first in-person non-fungible token (NFT) vending machine in New York City, aiming to make online art pieces as easily available as soda or a candy bar.
The twist? You have no idea what piece of digital art you might purchase.
“It’s the crypto curious, the people who tried to buy cryptocurrency or they were interested in buying an NFT, but they just hit too many barriers,” Neon CEO Kyle Zappitell said in an interview with Reuters, of the vending machine’s target customer.
Located in a small storefront in Lower Manhattan’s financial district with a sign outside saying “NFT ATM,” it looks like a traditional vending machine, but offers QR codes that come on slips in small paper boxes. The drops range in price from $5.99 to $420.69.
Once the QR code is scanned, the user can see their new piece of art on any smartphone, laptop or tablet.
At the Lower Manhattan site, the codes lead to two categories of digital art pieces, either a color or a picture of a pigeon.
For Zappitell, the element of mystery is a natural extension of the digital art space.
“As a NFT collector, over time, one of the things you love is the randomness of, ‘Which one are you going to get?'” he said. “So that’s one of the exciting aspects.”
The art pieces sold in the vending machine rely on the Solana blockchain, which ensures carbon-neutral transactions.
And while digital art is mostly offered via cryptocurrencies, Neon’s vending machine accepts fiat currency – you can use a credit card to make a purchase.
Starting with $3 million in seed money, Neon says it hopes to roll out more vending machines in malls and other public spaces.
“That’s one of the really powerful messages of this, is how it’s using this old world technology to enable the adoption of new world technology,” said Zappitell.
- Reporting by Dan Fastenberg; Writing by Karishma Singh; Editing by Leslie Adler, of Reuters.