Today Japan Post is launching its first NFTs of postage stamp artwork on the Rakuten NFT marketplace.
The first NFTs are identical to postage stamp art, but the plan is to add variations over time.
As the national post office, one might expect a large quantity of NFTs to be dropped. Instead, it split the NFTs into three packs of animals, flowers and scenery, with an average of 100 units of each pack sold for roughly $20. Unsurprisingly it sold out.
The re-sale prices are substantially higher but not ridiculous. For example, only 100 animal series packs were sold, containing five stamps, so each stamp cost $4. The asking price of each stamp is up to $82 in the secondary marketplace, so it still represents a reasonable return.
Like sports cards, stamps represent one of the most traditional forms of collectibles. The question is whether there’s a good demographic overlap with NFTs. For example, the average stamp collector in the United States is over 60 years old. Sports cards and stamps differ because sports cards have always had a core youth collector base, making them a more obvious choice for a digital makeover.
Nevertheless, both stamps and coins have been previously issued as NFTs. In September last year, Swiss Post released its first Swiss Crypto Stamp, with 65,000 copies of the most common stamps released. It must have done okay because this August, it released Crypto Stamp 2.0 with 25,000 copies of ten different stamps and a prize draw.
The central Bank of Lithuania issued digital collectible coins as NFTs in mid-2020, before the boom in digital collectibles.
Meanwhile, Japan Post invested in Rakuten last year, and the two companies have a joint venture focused on the digital transformation of logistics. Rakuten is best known as a marketing and ecommerce company but also has a significant footprint in financial services and mobile.
Similarly to the West, there are numerous NFT marketplaces in Japan. Rakuten launched in February and Japan’s biggest messaging app, Line, launched in April. Financial services giant SBI Group also has an NFT marketplace.