A new exchange traded fund (ETF) is trying to capture the white-hot market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in one financial product.
But the catch is that it won't actually own any NFTs, crypto assets or related derivatives.
Listed under the symbol "NFTZ" by issuer Defiance ETFs, the Defiance Digital Revolution ETF launches Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange's Arca platform. The fund owns shares in publicly traded blockchain-related companies like Coinbase (COIN), in addition to those making a commitment to NFTs, like Funko (FNKO), PlayBoy (PLBY) and DraftKings (DKNG).
The ETF may not directly offer investors a ride on the next wave of NFT frenzy, but it does give indexed exposure to that segment of the booming blockchain/crypto sector.
“The next generation of traders are not like traditional asset allocators. These people are interested in things that allow them to connect and create and be a part of something," Sylvia Jablonski, chief investment officer and co-founder of Defiance ETFs, told Yahoo Finance in an interview.
"The NFT world has created this sense of representing ownership for digital assets that has fundamentally changed culture and the market for things other than stocks and currencies,” Jablonski added.
Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies which are minted as interchangeable units, NFTs are digitally unique tokens stored on a blockchain. They range from digital collectibles, art and music to concert tickets, video game assets, among a growing list of other areas.
Since the start of 2021, the unique token-like assets have exploded in popularity, with buying waves driven by collectors who spotted the uncommon value behind major NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
For corporations, NFTs might serve multiple purposes for advertising engagement, new product distribution and of course, copy-righting their brands in the emerging technology investment theme known as the metaverse.
Major companies like Microsoft (MSFT), Nvidia (NVDA), Roblox (RBLX), Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook) (FB), and the newly christened Block (ex-Square), are moving aggressively to position themselves in the next phase of the Web's development — and there’s already an ETF trying to own it.
With the exception of Block, the Metaverse ETF (META) already holds shares of those companies. It currently trades at $15.47 per share, up 3% since its listing in June by issuer RoundHill Investments, and carries $810 million in assets under management.
“I think the investment in NFTs is going to be as big as the investment in cryptocurrencies," Jablonski told Yahoo Finance.
"If you look at the metaverse ETF as a bar, people invested in it even though the metaverse doesn’t exist yet. I would say it's very realistic to expect a similar asset path for NFTZ as META has seen,” she added.
In total, the capitalization for the cryptocurrency market currently sits at $2.6 trillion according to CoinMarketCap, dwarfing the value of NFTs, which are on pace to reach more than $20 billion by the end of 2021 according to Dapp Radar. Like the metaverse, the true vale of NFTs will be years in the making.
But the NFT grab by futurist investors is still moving the market forward, with top token sales exploding. Last week’s activity saw the $2.42 million sale of Fashion Street Estate, a token representing real estate on the virtual reality platform Decentraland, and a pixelated Cryptopunk was auctioned for over $11.7 million via Sotheby’s back in June.
Recently, the buying fervor for NFTs, especially virtual land, hasn’t always correlated with the broader cryptocurrency market. While most consider the value of some of these assets to be worth millions, even the most successful sales of some of these items, such as fine art, might not warrant long term digital ownership.
Still, for those who aren't collectors but are bullish on NFTs in general, NFTZ may provide another way to get investment exposure.
David Hollerith covers cryptocurrency for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @dshollers.