14/07/2021 American Express makes debut into NFT rewards with SZA

Just swipe your American Express credit card to buy… a non-fungible token of R&B singer SZA?

American Express is making its debut into NFTs, the digital media phenomenon that has excited collectors enough to spend as much as $70 million for rights to digital artwork anyone can search for online.

American Express wants in on the craze, and it has started with NFTs for images of “Good Days” singer SZA, who was recently featured in a virtual concert hosted by the credit card company. 

Amex is selling 14 NFTs featuring the singer’s performance. It released 10 of the tokens, sold by NFT developer Fanaply, to concert attendees for a price tag of $100 a pop. The other four were put on sale the evening of July 12 to anyone with an Amex card for the same price.

American Express

The response was immediate. “The first drop sold out,” a company spokeswoman said in an email.

American Express had been watching the NFT space emerge over the last year as a way for fans to connect with artists and creators, according to the spokeswoman, who said that card members had also expressed interest in the space. The company doesn’t have any other confirmed plans right now for other NFTs, although it intends to release more in the future.

NFTs are one way that credit card companies are tapping into blockchain innovation—innovation that some say is a threat to their own business models. NFTs are essentially a blockchain-based certificate of authenticity for a digital asset—not the asset itself. Individuals can buy the rights to it, which will forever be stored on the blockchain, making it attractive to collectors.

Credit card companies including Amex, MasterCard and Visa have all been discussing ways to harness blockchain technology for years now. MasterCard recently said its customers could get crypto rewards on purchases, and it plans to start supporting certain coins on its network. Visa is leaning into crypto “in a very, very big way,” its CEO, Al Kelly, said on the company’s latest earnings call April 27. Currently, its customers can pay via digital currency, and it works with 35 platforms or wallets to enable its cardholders to convert digital currency to fiat, so they can use it to spend at merchants. 

Credit card companies may feel an urgency to innovate in the space—to be part of the next iteration of innovation rather than have it emerge at their own expense. Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has said that blockchain and the tech built on top of it, like smart contracts, could steal business from, or even replace, major credit card companies in only a matter of years.

“I do think that [credit card companies are] being quite progressive in playing in these spaces that they didn't a few years back because of that sense of risk,” says Carey O’Connor Kolaja, CEO of automated identity verification and fraud prevention company AU10TIX, which works with credit card companies and other financial institutions. “The pandemic was clearly an accelerant for a lot of industries that may have been playing around the edges,” she says, adding that the future of credit scores and lending isn’t clear.

Major credit card companies are evidently bullish on blockchain innovation—and so are consumers. Particularly for NFTs, there was nearly $2.5 billion spent on the tokens in the first six months of 2021, according to a DappRadar data.

NFTs have piqued Kolaja’s interest, too—particularly what she calls the “next generation” of athlete card trading that is happening online. Whether the valuations for these certificates can stay as high as they’ve been, “the jury’s out to me,” she says.



Interesting NFTs
José Delbo sent me his striking pencil sketch and powerful inked work, which I then interpreted in oil on canvas. I wanted to create a very painterly piece with obvious brush marks etc, but I was also aiming for a nostalgic feel, a kind of 1980’s superhero comic book look, the kind I grew up with. My goal with this animation was to try to recreate, in part, the creative process that both artists went through with the visual information I had. I was able to showcase my painting process more accurately as I could take photographs of my progress throughout. Consecutive images could then be layered like brush strokes over José’s drawing to create the impression that this was one continuous artwork from pencil, to ink, to completed painting. The representation of the line sketch at the beginning, then pencil/ink and lastly the paint layers being applied demonstrate both artists’ struggle for the right lines, tone, form, and colour until the work is finally completed. As the oil was still wet with each photograph the glare of my studio lights can be seen in the brush strokes. Eventually, the figure emerges and as it does, our hero comes to life, looking directly at the viewer -- but is he grimacing in approval or disgust? We will never know for sure as just before he can say anything, white paint is brushed across the canvas entirely and the process begins again. Only the bat is quick enough to escape.
・゜゚・:.。..。.:*・'(゚▽゚)'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・* for more info see https://tinyurl.com/56unnr39
Hand sculpted 3D mesh passed back and forth through several software programs to create custom materials, textures, HDRI lighting and cameras. Attributes were created with hand built node networks. The final render is 4000x4000.
Poem by Dainagon Tsunenobu, from the series One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets, Explained by the Nurse
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) Poem by Dainagon Tsunenobu, from the series One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets, Explained by the Nurse late 1830s - Japan
Who will be the most Meowfool of the Meowfoolest?! 6 HaCKittieZ are fighting for the crown of madness! It is time for crowns to change their history: people, this is the crown of insanity we are talking about. So tell us, who is insaner than the insanest of collectors? Only the artists - the creators - would know, while crowning the one who is brave enough to play with the craziest possibilities of Async programmable art, on these 6 HaCKittieZ. Welcome to the feast of fools. HaCKittieZ is a collaboration of Hackatao, CryptoKitties and Async. The 6 KittieZ are a reinterpretation by Hackatao of the CryptoKitties’ classic elements, following their own style and getting inspiration from their own art pieces.