- I used Coinbase’s new feature that allows you to buy and sell NFTs.
- It is designed to take a bite out of the market that OpenSea has dominated for a long time.
- But, like OpenSea, the feature made me wonder what the point of NFTs was in the first place.
A new way to buy and sell NFTs is now available to the masses and operated by one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Coinbase’s NFT service is still in beta mode, and the company debuted it in April to a select few select users before opening it up to everyone.
The launch comes at a precarious time for the crypto giant – early May saw it shaved off half of its value within a week, recently laid off 18% of its employees and withdrawn job openings, and the market in general is, of course, in a historic downturn. with many questioning the fate of decentralized finance.
Needless to say, this isn’t the best time for space. But that didn’t stop Coinbase’s NFT store from launching.
I tried it out and bought a $50 cartoon separate from the so-called SuperBunnies collection, one featuring “rare, brave superheroes sworn to defend the metaverse.”
Like the $103 cartoon pig NFT I bought on OpenSea in March, the purchase made me wonder what NFTs really are for, beyond mere speculation.
There is no app yet – you need Coinbase Wallet
There is no Coinbase NFT app per se. Instead, you must have downloaded the Coinbase Wallet app (as well as the main Coinbase app, where you buy and sell crypto.) Luckily for Coinbase, many potential customers already do.
In the wallet app, click on the quadrangular icon in the bottom center and you will see a banner that reads ‘Coinbase NFT’.
You can also use the website version to view NFTs, which I chose to do – you just need to confirm it’s you on your phone.
The first thing I noticed and liked was a switch that allowed me to scroll through the NFTs and see their prices in USD, not ether.
There were Discover and Shop tabs so you can filter by NFTs for sale.
I saw many spin-offs of the famous Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, which has brought in about $1 billion in sales. There were Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Crypto Apes, Animated Bored Apes, and Bored Bears, just to name a few.
One of the most expensive NFTs I found was a $15,568 price from Crypto Punks.
In the end I chose one from the SuperBunnies collection and admittedly chose one of the cheapest NFTs. Mine, “Light Super Bunny #2894”, has “unimpressed” eyes.
As a launch special, Coinbase said it would not charge transaction fees, known as gas fees, for a “limited time.” These fees can be significant and add quite a bit to the final price tag. For example, I previously bought an NFT on OpenSea that cost about $50, but I paid a total of $100 because of this cost.
However, the limited special seems to have expired – there were still network fees ranging from $14 to $18, bringing the total cost of the NFT from $32 to nearly $50.
This friction felt familiar: the need to start buying more ether to cover the cost of the fees, wait for it to process, and then finally buy the NFT.
Aside from the NFT hype, Coinbase is now an even bigger player in the game
Proponents usually say that NFTs allow creators to make a living from their jobs more easily because blockchain technology gives them more direct access to customers.
Ultimately, though, NFTs are largely speculative digital assets, which buyers hope will skyrocket in value so they can get a cash windfall.
Still, the $41 billion market has its following, and Coinbase’s foray into the NFT trading space indicates that it will likely remain one of the major players in the world of Defi.