Last year, HYBE announced plans to team-up with financial-technology company Dunamu for a new business model involving the combination of its intellectual property and NFTs. One specific example used by HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk at the time was photocards, digital versions of collectable cards featuring images of K-pop idols.
Following the announcement, fans of BTS voiced their unhappiness with HYBE’s plans to launch NFTs, with many citing the potential negative impact the digital asset has on the environment. ARMYs also noted how the company’s NFT plans could be seen as contradictory to the boyband’s recent speech at the UN, where they described climate change as “an important problem”.
In its first statement over the issue since the backlash, HYBE has said that it will not be backing down on its NFT plans. According to HYBE America’s project lead John Kim, the digital photocards of BTS members are set to launch in the first half of this year.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, per The Korea Economic Daily, Kim said that “we believe NFTs have the potential for expansion and hope they will provide fans with more varied experiences and opportunities to express themselves”.
In addition, Dunamu has also alleged that its NFTs venture with HYBE will not be as environmentally impactful as fans think. Kim Min-jung, Dunamu’s NFT business development and strategy manager, claimed that their NFT platform will not consume as much energy as compared to the more mainstream choices, alleging that “its carbon footprint is almost negligible”.
HYBE is not the only K-pop company that has plans to launch NFTs based on its IPs. Last year, JYP Entertainment also announced a partnership with Dunamu to produce and distribute NFT-linked digital goods.
The platform will reportedly be used to distribute K-pop content for JYP artists. The company’s current active slate of artists include South Korean K-pop acts like TWICE, Stray Kids, Day6, ITZY and 2PM, as well as the Japan-based girl group NiziU.