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HYBE founder on BTS fans’ NFT concerns: “As of now, we haven’t announced anything”

By | Published on Thursday 31 March 2022


Founder of HYBE – the company behind BTS – Bang Si-Hyuk says that he recognises the concerns of music fans regarding NFTs. He adds that, as yet, the company “haven’t announced anything” super specific in that domain, although that doesn’t mean it won’t.

In a new interview with Time Magazine, Bang reflects on the reaction to an announcement by HYBE last year that it planned to launch its own NFT exchange in the future. The responses from the stock market and K-pop fans were very different, he notes.

“When we said we were going to pursue an NFT exchange, the market reacted with enthusiastic welcome, but fans showed concern and at times aggressive feedback”, says Bang. “All I’d like to say to fans is: As of now, we haven’t announced anything. We haven’t [publicly] discussed what kind of product we would service or what type of product we would make, although I fully understand the concern”.

Investors are keen on NFTs for their perceived quick financial returns, while others (not just BTS fans) see environmental concerns – because of the high amount of energy consumed through the running of NFTs and the blockchains on which they sit – as a reason to avoid them at all costs.

However, Bang adds, one of the reasons the company opted to launch its own NFT exchange, rather than partnering with an existing platform (although it is working in partnership with NFT exchange operator Dunamu) was in part so that the company could “respond directly to fan concerns”.

“I’m thinking a lot about policies and technical measures that can reflect these concerns as well”, he says. Still, having floated HYBE on the stock exchange two years ago, he notes that this is one example of how you have to balance the different demands made on a publicly listed company by shareholders and consumers.

“We are doing our best to provide more value and experience to fans while trying to satisfy the market’s quick demands, which can be difficult”, he says. “That being said, quite some time has passed [since our initial NFT exchange announcement]. We have some interesting projects in the works and I think we’ll be able to show them to you soon. And when that happens, I’d like to say cautiously, that perhaps you’ll find yourself not thinking, ‘These guys don’t understand why we hate this’”.

Whether HYBE can satisfy investors’ desire for increasing returns and fans’ worries about the planet with an NFT project remains to be seen. Various NFT providers have made claims about selling tokens with a lower environmental impact – and the Ethereum blockchain where most NFTs are minted is shifting to a system that guzzles less energy – though concerns aplenty remain.

Others worry that the entire Web3 movement is an effort to rebuild the internet as a money generator for a relatively small number of people at the top, to the ultimate detriment of everyone else – despite various claims that the opposite is the principle objective. All of which makes it difficult to convince critics that, actually, your NFT project is a nice, fluffy one that will do no harm.

Anyway, this whole Time interview is very interesting, so you should go and read it here.