At the turn of 2022, numerous new year’s letters from South Korean companies to the public included one trending term: NFTs (non-fungible tokens). While many chief executives promised a full-blown effort to develop NFTs in the new year, South Korea’s leading companies — Samsung, LG Electronics and Shinhan Card — have already rolled out plans incorporating the digital token technology. 

This week at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Samsung Electronics unveiled its new line of Smart TVs, which the company says is a breakthrough in television technology. 

“In 2022, Samsung is introducing the world’s first TV screen-based NFT explorer and marketplace aggregator, a groundbreaking platform that lets you browse, purchase, and display your favorite art — all in one place,” the company said, explaining that it saw an opportunity in the rising demand for NFTs, and a need for a connection between those who purchase NFTs and those who view them. 

Apart from purchase and display features, potential buyers of the digital artworks are able to examine an NFT’s history and blockchain metadata on the platform. Detailed information on whether Samsung’s NFT platform was constructed in-house or in partnership with an external company has not been disclosed.

LG Electronics, one of Samsung’s biggest competitors, held a press conference a day after Samsung’s announcement where Park Hyung-se, the head of LG’s home entertainment business division revealed that the company “definitely” has plans to incorporate NFT features into its TV line. Park added that LG Electronics’ latest organic light-emitting diode TVs are optimized for displaying artworks.  

While Samsung and LG’s television NFT platform prospects could possibly provide a new dynamic to display the digital artworks at home at a similar level to a gallery, some are skeptical about its function as a trading platform.

Chung Seung-mo, a 25-year-old cryptocurrency investor in South Korea who is keeping a close eye on the NFT market, is one of them. “I don’t really see a point in there being an NFT trading platform on my TV. When it is still inconvenient to surf the internet on what you call a Smart television, I don’t think it will be a very pleasant experience buying an NFT on TV,” Chung told Forkast.News

On Twitter, one user wrote, “I just don’t see what their strategy is, I mean if you’re out and about and you find an NFT you want, your first instinct probably isn’t the TV because a TV isn’t mobile,” questioning the practicality of having an NFT platform on a big-screen TV. There appear to be more skeptics than enthusiasts for the development on the social media platform. 

Samsung and LG Electronics are the two biggest players in the global TV market and their decision to introduce NFT features in their new TV lines may make NFTs more available to households around the world. According to Statista, Samsung Electronics is the best-selling television manufacturer in the world, having about 30.8% of the global market in the third quarter of last year, while LG Electronics is next with 19%

Business professor Kim Dae-jong of Sejong University told Forkast.News in an interview that Samsung and LG’s new NFT function will have a favorable effect not only on the NFT market but also on the virtual currency market.

In addition to electronics manufacturers, a major player in South Korea’s financial sector is gearing up NFT-related products as well. Shinhan Card, one of South Korea’s top-tier credit card companies, launched an NFT service yesterday on Shinhan pLay, its payment and lifestyle app. The service, named My NFT, allows Shinhan card users to mint ownership of their physical belongings or memorable events as NFTs. 

In partnership with blockchain company Block Odyssey, Shinhan built the NFT service on Kakao’s blockchain platform Klaytn. One can simply begin making NFTs through connecting the pLay app with Kakao’s messaging app KakaoTalk, the dominant messaging app in South Korea with an 86.5% market share. As Shinhan focuses on the minting and the storing of NFTs, the app does not support users in trade or distribution of the NFTs. 

Shinhan Card, a subsidiary of Shinhan Financial Group, says that it will continue expanding its services in conjunction with other companies that utilize NFTs. It is currently constructing a service with Bungaejangter Inc., a trading platform for second-hand items, to make use of NFTs as a warranty in proving genuineness of a registered product.