Coinbase launches NFT marketplace in hopes of appealing to crypto and mainstream users

·3-min read

It might be a good morning -- or perhaps “gm” -- for the hundreds of thousands of NFT community members who will now get another marketplace to trade their digital collectibles.

Six months ago, Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. by volume, announced that it was launching an NFT marketplace, but provided few details as to when it would actually arrive. Fast-forward to today: “Coinbase NFT” launched its beta mode with collections of NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Coinbase is a publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange platform that has about 89 million users, $278 billion in crypto assets and $547 billion in quarterly volume traded, according to its website.

During the beta launch, Coinbase is curating and showcasing a number of NFT collections like Doodles, World of Women and Azuki. Any Ethereum-based collection will be accessible on Coinbase NFT, with “more [blockchains] available soon,” Alex Plutzer, NFT product lead at Coinbase NFT, said during a press conference. “We’ll cycle these [collections] out over time to help introduce people to awesome NFTs on the platform, especially for people who aren’t as familiar with NFTs.”

There will also be no transaction fees on NFTs on its marketplace “for a limited time.” Over time, the fee will increase, but will be a “low single-digit fee,” Sanchan Saxena, vice president of product at Coinbase, said during the meeting. Users can either use a Coinbase wallet or any self-custody wallet they own to trade NFTs on the platform.

“We’ve been able to successfully bring the complexities of cryptocurrencies in an easy-to-use way to the masses,” Saxena said. “We believe we have a similar opportunity to do so for NFTs as well.”

But unlike its crypto exchange, the NFT marketplace is aiming to also implement a “web3 social marketplace,” Saxena said. As a part of Coinbase NFT’s strategy, the marketplace will allow users to buy, sell and engage with creators, collectors and the community around the NFTs they own.

Those at the top of Coinbase NFT’s waitlist will be able to become beta testers on its marketplace and create a profile and showcase their NFTs, both ones they have created and traded. The whole platform will be available to everyone over 18 years old in the coming weeks, Saxena said.

It's similar to an Instagram profile where one would showcase their photographs -- but in this case, it’s NFTs. People can follow, comment and interact with one another through its marketplace.

Oftentimes, people use multiple different social media channels like Discord or Twitter to engage in the NFT community they believe in, Saxena said. “On our platform, they can do so in one place.”

Although features like commenting or following other NFT accounts aren’t on-chain or decentralized, the company’s goal is to progressively decentralize all those features and make them on-chain over time, Saxena said.

Separately, the platform does not plan to moderate any NFTs uploaded to the marketplace unless it’s illegal in the country that the NFTs are being offered. For example, if an NFT contains details that are illegal in the U.S., Coinbase NFT would ban it, Saxena said.

The idea of moderation often causes disagreements across the crypto community because users claim what should be an open, permissionless marketplace comes with an asterisk subject to moderation. However, Saxena claims Coinbase NFT is “not in the business of judging what’s right or wrong” as long as it’s legal in that country.

In the future, Coinbase NFT plans to add more features like NFT drops, minting and token-gated communities. It also anticipates adding the option to buy NFTs with a Coinbase account or credit card so the ecosystem is more accessible to mainstream audiences, Saxena said.

To bring more users to its platform, it will also partner with NFT artists globally, who will do collection drops on Coinbase NFT in the near future, Saxena shared. “You can expect Coinbase NFT to become the platform where the next Bored Ape Yacht Club” or next artist or organization is doing their launches on the platform.

“This is just the beginning,” Saxena said.

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