BTS label HYBE to invest in NFTs

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SEOUL, Nov. 8 (UPI) — K-pop group BTS‘s label, HYBE, plans to invest in non-fungible tokens in a new partnership with Dunamu, South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange operator.

The two companies are planning to start a new NFT platform, which will circulate digital photo cards of HYBE artists, including BTS.

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HYBE plans to invest $422 million to acquire a 2.48 percent stake in Dunamu, which runs the country’s largest crypto exchange, Upbit.

For the partnership, the entertainment giant will also issue 2.3 million shares — valued at $591 million — to Dunamu, according to the two firms’ regulatory filings.

“HYBE and Dunamu will join forces to make our artists’ content become digital assets of fans through the NFT venture, HYBE founder Bang Si-hyuk said in an online media event.

“By certifying each unique photo card, we will enable fans to own them for good,” he said.

The billionaire businessman did not elaborate on when the NFT-based digital cards will hit the market.

“As so many fans are ready to purchase rare items related to BTS, the NFT-focused venture is expected to be successful,” HMC Investment & Securities analyst Kim Hyun-yong told UPI News Korea.

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“It seems HYBE will introduce the NFT platform during the second half of next year at the earliest, as its officials said during a conference call this month,” he said.

An NFT refers to a virtual asset stored on the blockchain. In March, NFTs caught global attention after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet as an NFT sold for more than $2.9 million.

Recently, various industries such as digital art, sports and games have embraced the technology, which enables buyers to gain ownership rights of unique items.

Global celebrities have also jumped on the NFT bandwagon, including U.S. rapper Snoop Dogg and soccer player Lionel Messi.

The share price of HYBE rose 2.35 percent Monday in South Korea’s stock market. Dunamu, which has yet to go public, has an estimated value of about $17 billion.

Last month, HYBE said it would take legal action against a cryptocurrency named after ARMY, the BTS fandom.