Temple in Taiwan sells thousands of NFTs to increase followers’ engagement in popular pilgrimage around sea goddess Mazu
Interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies may have declined sharply this year, but a temple in Taiwan has issued non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a way for people to engage in a popular pilgrimage, according to local media.
Dajia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung, a city about 100 miles down the coast from Taipei, each year organises a 300-kilometer (100 mile) nine-day pilgrimage with a statue of the sea goddess Mazu that draws hundreds of thousands of followers.
The pilgrimages and related festivals are the centre of a “Mazu economy” that drives donations and spending on Mazu-themed merchandise and business opportunities throughout the region.
The temple, which dates back to the Qing dynasty of the 18th century, has now created Mazu NFTs that act as a “priority pass” to increase their engagement in the pilgrimage that usually happens in the spring, according to a Tuesday report from cryptocurrency news site Forkast.
Sea goddess pilgrimage
Mazu, a protector of seafarers, is especially popular in Taiwan, where Mazu-themed merchandise can be found in convenience stores and on major online shopping sites.
Mingkun Cheng, vice chairman of the board of the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple, told Forkast the pilgrimage alone can generate more than 5 billion Taiwan dollars (US$163m, £130m) in spending.
Younger people are now joining the pilgrimage and the new MazuDAO NFTs appeal to them, Cheng said.
The NFTs went on sale last August for about NT$18,880 on the temple’s e-commerce platform MazuBuyBuy and elsewhere. The temple has so far sold more than 2,800 of the MazuDAO tokens.
‘Web 0.0’ meets Web3
Jerry Yan, project lead of MazuDAO, said many of the elder followers do not even have a smartphone and “very much live in a Web 0.0 world”.
Cryptocurrencies and related technologies are sometimes referred to as Web3.
“We had to set up promotional booths in front of the temple to introduce MazuDAO NFTs to those Web0 believers,” Yan said, adding that the temple also set up a landline customer service team to reach older followers.
“Often on the phone, we’d ask them to call for their grandchildren to help out and set up crypto wallets on their behalf,” he said.
NFTs saw a peak in sales and online activity early this year, with about $4.9bn in sales worldwide in January 2022, but have since fallen to only about $565m so far during the month of December, according to industry data from Cryptoslam.io.