Startup launches crypto-less NFT vending machine in New York City

The machine accepts credit and debit cards before dispensing boxes with unique codes inside for NFTs.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

A startup announced the opening of an NFT vending machine in New York City that allows anyone -- even those without cryptocurrency -- to buy NFTs. 


Located near Wall Street, the vending machine accepts credit and debit cards before dispensing a box with a unique code inside it for the NFT. Neon, the NFT and digital collection platform behind the effort, closed a $3 million seed round last month.

The code on the inside of the box can be redeemed on Neon's platform without any need for cryptocurrency or a cryptowallet. The vending machine is open 24-hours a day. 

Neon co-founder Jordan Birnholz told ZDNet that currently, the vending machines sell "Colors" for $5.99 and "Party Pigeons" for $420.69. The "Party Pigeons" collection was created by an artist named Typfy specifically for Neon. Project Color allows users to randomly select a color that can be bought, sold or traded to create a collage.

"Right now, they can only be purchased on Neon, but you can transfer them into any Solana wallet including Phantom, and they can be resold anywhere," Birnholz explained.

"There are no fees or requirements to use Neon. There's literally no simpler way to buy something than a vending machine. We wanted to show people how powerful and easy it can be to support digital artists, and to demystify the process of getting an NFT. In the future, Neon plans to feature more artists who have signed up with neonapp.com in our real world NFT ATM."

The founders of Neon said they chose the Solana blockchain because it's the most energy-efficient and has a theoretical throughput of 65,000 transactions a second with near zero fees. All of Neon's transactions are carbon neutral thanks to offsets purchased by the Solana Foundation, according to Birnholtz.

"We wanted to embrace a blockchain that's fast, green and meets demand at global scale. Our goal is to support artists and creators by letting them sell digital art to everyone, and to help anyone who wants to become a collector. Giving people the choice to use vending machines and an easy online platform that decouples cryptocurrency from NFT participation means we can engage the widest possible audience. NFT buying and selling doesn't need to be a mystery and you shouldn't be required to hold Ethereum, write a smart contract, pay gas costs or bridge blockchains to participate," Birnholtz said. 

"While only 2% of Americans have digital wallets, 80% have a credit card or debit card. That's a 40-fold increase in an artist's potential audience. We want to empower creators and digital artists whose work has often been undervalued because it's not tangible in a traditional sense. We make selling digital art even simpler than selling physical art. If creators want to make NFTs based on their existing content or based on new material, we want them on Neon."

NFTs have become massively popular in recent years, with data showing that platforms like OpenSea had more than $4.95 billion of Ethereum trading volume in January. 

Neon is backed by the Digital Currency Group, Entrée Capital and General Catalyst. 

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