FTX.US Adds Ethereum Collectibles to NFT Marketplace

The rollout comes about a month after the exchange’s largely underwhelming Solana-based NFT debut.

Dec 1, 2021 at 3:43 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 1, 2021 at 7:56 p.m. UTC

FTX opened trading for some of the Ethereum network’s top non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on its U.S. marketplace Wednesday, mounting a challenge to market leader OpenSea and beating rival exchange Coinbase to the punch.

“We’re starting with the top 10 – let’s call it – profile-pic, avatar-type projects, and then we’re gonna move on to the generative artwork and then go for the one-of-ones with basically the top volume,” FTX.US President Brett Harrison told CoinDesk.

The staggered rollout comes more than a month after FTX.US’s largely underwhelming Solana-based NFT debut. Company officials who bet that the speed and low cost of the Solana blockchain could best Ethereum, where most blue-chip NFT projects live, were “disappointed” by low user uptake, a source at FTX.US told CoinDesk.

Exchanges race to NFTs

By adding Ethereum NFTs, FTX.US is looking to make up for lost time. It’s undercutting rival NFT exchanges on fee structure (2% compared with OpenSea’s 2.5%) and subsidizing withdrawal fees in a bid to woo users who may be spooked by sky-high Ethereum gas fees.

Another big difference is on the custodial front. Harrison said FTX.US will take custody of listed Ethereum NFTs, which he said will save users money. OpenSea leaves owners in control of their assets until sale.

“By not requiring gas for doing things like bids, we’re going to see a lot more price action and price discovery on the platform, and we hope that in general attracts liquidity,” he said.

Users might eventually use non-custodial wallets like MetaMask for Ethereum and Phantom for Solana to interact with FTX.US NFTs, Harrison said. He said there’s more value in embracing accessibility first.

OpenSea, where anyone with a wallet can list any NFT they like, will retain an advantage on breadth. FTX.US plans to vet all Ethereum NFT projects before listing to ensure they don’t run afoul of securities laws or aren’t counterfeit rip-offs.

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Danny is CoinDesk's deputy business editor. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.