Amber Group, a Hong Kong-based crypto financial services company, today launched its CreatorFi (creator finance) non-fungible token initiative to support creators, collectors and marketplaces in the growing NFT industry.

The initiative aims to educate NFT creators and collectors, and serve as an entry point into the Web 3 economy and the crypto world, according to a company statement. Amber Group will also provide platforms with customizable, end-to-end services to facilitate NFT auctions and transactions, including technical support for minting, custody and penetration testing. 

“NFTs are revolutionizing the traditional art world. Artists can now monetize their work every time ownership of the asset changes hands on the blockchain,” said Annabelle Huang, partner at Amber Group, in a statement. “We expect to see NFTs being created in a variety of industries beyond art as well. As a leading crypto finance firm, Amber Group aims to provide tailored solutions for NFT trading platforms and creative artists entering the NFT world.”

NFT boom

The idea for the initiative came about amid the NFT boom, with Amber Group seeing interest from collectors and artists who wanted to get involved with NFTs but were not familiar with blockchain or crypto, Huang told Forkast.News in an interview. “They don’t know what a blockchain wallet is, or how they need to custody or mint an NFT.

“That’s when we saw a need to provide services here, because we are trying to bridge everything between traditional finance and crypto finance,” Huang added. “It doesn’t have to be Bitcoin, Ethereum — it could also be within the NFT space.”

As one of its first initiatives, Amber Group partnered with Hong Kong-based TR Lab, an NFT platform for fine art jointly established by Dragonfly Capital — one of Amber Group’s investors — together with Xin Li-Cohen, Christie’s non-executive deputy chairman, as well as the founders of Artsy, Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum and ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, in an auction. 

Through the partnership, Amber Group provided technical assistance to TR Lab in minting and end-to-end crypto finance services such as payments, transfers and trading, as well as platform security testing and developing the website interface. 

For its opening drop, TR Lab invited Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang to create an NFT named “Transient Eternity — 101 Ignitions of Gunpowder Paintings,” which features 100 ignition moments from Cai Guoqiang’s legendary gunpowder paintings. The NFT was sold for US$2.5 million in a 48-hour online auction earlier this month, with half of the auction proceeds going to the Rockbund Art Museum for its development and digital art research programs, and the remainder going to the Asian Cultural Council Cai Fellowship Program to fund young Chinese artists studying in the United States.

Another project that has been launched as part of the CreatorFi initiative is a YouTube video series about crypto, decentralized finance and NFTs, co-hosted by Leslie Lamb, Amber Group’s head of partnerships, and Tom Yi, founder of Kanosei Ventures.

“The CreatorFi initiative is really at the very beginning,” Huang said, adding that there could be opportunities for Amber Group to provide pricing, lending, or liquidity in general to the market or marketplace so that people could buy or sell NFTs more easily with better price discovery. People could also use their NFTs as collateral to borrow so that they get more use out of their NFTs, Huang added. 

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The CreatorFi initiative covers all forms of NFTs, not just art, which in itself covers a wide spectrum, Huang said, adding that she was also excited about data NFTs. “Right now people don’t really think of data as an asset, but if you make it into NFT form, then maybe it’s a lot more tangible.” 

Gaming, in particular play-to-earn games, are what’s going to drive NFTs into the mainstream, Huang said. 

Industry consolidation

On the proliferation of NFT platforms and marketplaces, Huang said that consolidation in the industry was likely. 

“That’s exactly why we’re launching CreatorFi, to help people who are new to the space to navigate and find the best resources for them,” she said. “I don’t think it makes sense to have all separate [intellectual property] on separate platforms. We’re waiting to see who’s going to be the lead in terms of creating the platform that makes the most sense for creators or collectors to join forces.”

For creators looking to get into NFTs, Huang advised them first to think about whether their content is suitable to be an NFT. Taking a photograph of a beautiful physical oil painting and putting it on the blockchain may not make the most sense. Digital artwork that is interactive or programmable would be more suitable for NFTs, she said. Second, given the many NFT platforms out there, creators need to consider the platform best suited for their work and how to monetize their content. Huang’s third piece of advice is to focus on building a community early on.

In terms of NFT trends, Huang predicts that NFTs could be the next big thing in China. 

“Before May, a lot of the people in crypto in China were miners, and mining was a legitimate business mode. But since the ban and the great migration, people are looking to the next thing,” Huang said. “NFT itself is not an [initial coin offering], it’s not crypto pump-and-dump, so to speak, so I think the government, the regulator’s attitude, is more friendly.”

For now, the company is in “experimental mode” and brainstorming what it can do. 

“We’re very curious to learn new things. We want to move fast with the new trend, and we’re lucky because a lot of our clients, a lot of our partners, are actually in these new things. We’re just working with them as we go.” Huang said. “This is a very exciting space and the future is limitless in terms of where we can go.” 

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