Coinbase, one of the largest U.S. bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges and a major crypto on-ramp, has announced it’s launching a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
NFTs, blockchain-based tokens tied to all manner of both real-world and digital media, have seen a huge surge in popularity this year with a digital artist known as Beeple selling an NFT of his work for $69 million in March.
The NFT market grew to a staggering $10.7 billion through the third quarter of the year, up a blistering eight-fold compared with the previous quarter, according to market tracker DappRadar.
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“The excitement surrounding NFTs is high,” Coinbase wrote in a blog post. “But if you’ve tried to create or purchase an NFT, you’ve probably found the user experience lacking.”
Those trying to create and trade NFTs often complain about clunky user interfaces, high fees and lacklustre support systems but a raft of new platforms are aiming to address those complaints.
The launch of Coinbase’s ethereum-based NFT marketplace comes hot on the heels of the U.S. arm of the FTX bitcoin and crypto exchange launching a solana-based NFT trading platform this week.
“The NFT ecosystem has started to infiltrate pop culture, but has been lacking a platform that provides easy access and exposure to the mainstream audience,” Brett Harrison, president of FTX.US, said in a statement.
Both Coinbase and FTX.US have said they do eventually plan to add support for other blockchains as the rivalry between ethereum, solana and other smart contract blockchains heats up. FTX chief executive and crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has heavily backed the solana blockchain—a bet that’s so far paid off with the price of solana’s sol token rocketed 5,000% since this time last year.
“Starting today, you can join the waitlist for early access to Coinbase NFT which is launching soon,” Coinbase wrote without specifying the precise launch date but promising users will be able to mint, purchase and showcase NFTs.
“Buying and selling will be core features of Coinbase NFT,” wrote the San Fransisco-based company, which made its hugely-hyped Nadaq debut earlier this year at an eye-watering $85 billion valuation. “All your NFTs are on-chain [and] the initial launch will support ethereum-based ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards with multi-chain support planned soon after.”
While most NFTs that are currently traded are on the ethereum blockchain, other rival chains are increasingly being discussed as alternatives to ethereum due to its high fees and congested network.
The announcement of Coinbase NFT is the company’s first new product since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) threatened to sue over its plan to launch an interest-yielding lending program.
Coinbase shelved Lend in September, citing its ongoing “work to seek regulatory clarity for the crypto industry.”