Feb 16 (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange has filed an application to register the term “NYSE” for a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), taking a step closer to setting up an online trading place for cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The hype around cryptocurrencies last year spilled over to NFTs, a form of speculative investment that has attracted fans including former U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Jamaican sprint great Usain Bolt.

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Companies involved in this sector have also been backed by heavyweights Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T).

If the NYSE launches a new marketplace, it would compete with SuperRare, Rarible and NFT markeplace giant OpenSea, which was valued at $13.3 billion after its latest funding round.

However, a spokesperson for the NYSE said it has no immediate plans to launch cryptocurrency or NFT trading.

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“(The NYSE) regularly considers new products and their impact on our trademarks and protects our intellectual property rights accordingly,” the spokesperson added.

NFTs have left many baffled as to why so much money is spent on items that do not physically exist. Some also believe the industry is saturated by scammers and too often rewards viral art of low quality.

The NYSE minted its first set of NFTs in April last year, commemorating the first trades of six “notable” listings.

The exchange’s filing indicates it could enter into the metaverse too, as it seeks to provide “virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality software”.

Metaverse refers to shared, immersive digital environments which can be accessed via virtual reality or augmented reality headsets or computer screens.

Besides NFTs, the exchange would also provide “an online marketplace for buyers, sellers and traders of virtual and digital assets, artwork”, it said in a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office dated Feb. 10.

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By block head

Block Head is a blockchain journalist.