Coinbase NFT Marketplace Goes Live. Can It Rival OpenSea?

The beta iteration of the exchange’s marketplace is putting a social-media spin on NFT trading.

Apr 20, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 20, 2022 at 6:43 p.m. UTC

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

Crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) launched the beta version of its long-awaited non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace on Wednesday, allowing a small group of users from a wait-list of 3 million to use the platform for the first time.

The marketplace, which was first announced last October, will support Ethereum-based NFT trading, with a social-media spin that could distinguish it from competitors.

The platform will allow users to showcase their personal profile and follow accounts whose content will appear in a “For You” feed, which is visually similar to social-media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Users will also be able to “like” and comment on each other's posts, a Coinbase representative told CoinDesk.

“This product is more than just buying and selling, it is about building your community,” Sanchan Saxena, Coinbase's vice president of product, told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday. “It is about making sure that you can connect and engage with them on the platform. One other thing I mentioned in the beginning was that it’s a very social marketplace.”

The marketplace will support “all sorts of self-custody wallets” besides the official Coinbase Wallet, a decision the exchange made to create “an open NFT environment for everyone,” according to the briefing. The platform will also support fiat purchases via credit cards.

The marketplace will start off with zero transaction fees (besides Ethereum gas costs and creator-implemented royalties), but will eventually implement a “low, single-digit fee,” Saxena said.

A press briefing showed Coinbase's more social approach to NFT sales.

Coinbase's NFT plans

Coinbase has a plan for what it’s calling “progressive decentralization” within the marketplace, where certain features will begin centralized but eventually move on-chain.

One of these features is user comments, where threads will initially be stored on Coinbase servers but eventually moved to the blockchain.

Another is what the exchange is calling a user’s “follower graph,” which they will be able to take with them from platform to platform.

A new direction for NFTs?

A social media-focused marketplace is novel in the current NFT landscape, but could become the norm as more players enter the industry.

In March, Meta Platforms (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that NFTs would eventually come to Instagram, though details on the integration remain unknown.

Social-media focus or not, any marketplace entering the world of Ethereum NFTs will have to take a direct shot at OpenSea, which has hosted 95% of all Ethereum-based NFT traders in the past 30 days, according to data from DappRadar.

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Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

Eli is a news reporter for CoinDesk. He holds ETH, SOL and AVAX.

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