- I used Coinbase’s new feature that lets you buy and sell NFTs.
- It’s designed to take a bite out of the market that OpenSea has long dominated.
- 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 general public, and it’s powered by one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.
Coinbase’s NFT service is still in beta mode, and the company launched it in April for a limited number of select users before opening it up to everyone.
Its launch comes at a precarious time for the crypto giant – it saw its value reduced by half in a week in early May, recently laid off 18% of its employees and canceled job offers, and the market in its together is, of course, in a historic downturn that has many wondering about the fate of decentralized finance.
Needless to say, this is not the best time for space. But that didn’t stop the launch of Coinbase’s NFT store.
I tried it out and bought a $50 cartoon outside of the so-called SuperBunnies collection, one featuring “rare and valiant superheroes who have sworn to defend the metaverse”.
Like the $103 NFT cartoon pig I bought on OpenSea in March, this purchase made me wonder what NFTs are really for outside of mere speculation.
There is no app yet — you need Coinbase Wallet
There is no Coinbase NFT app per se. Instead, you’ll need to download the Coinbase Wallet app (as well as the main Coinbase app, where you buy and sell crypto). Fortunately for Coinbase, many potential customers are already doing this.
In the wallet app, click on the four-square icon in the bottom center and you will see a banner that says “Coinbase NFT”.
You can also use the website version to browse NFTs, which I chose to do – just confirm it’s you on your phone.
The first thing I noticed and liked was a toggle that allowed me to scroll through NFTs and see their prices in USD, not Ether.
There were Discover and Buy tabs, so you can filter by NFTs that are for sale.
I’ve seen a lot of spinoffs from the famous Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, which brought in around $1 billion in sales. There was Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Crypto Apes, Animated Bored Apes, and Bored Bears, to name a few.
One of the most expensive NFTs I found was the one priced at $15,568 from Crypto Punks.
I finally settled on one from the SuperBunnies collection, admittedly choosing one of the cheaper NFTs. Mine, “Light Super Bunny #2894”, has “unimpressed” eyes.
As a special launch, Coinbase said it won’t charge any transaction fees, otherwise known as gas fees, for a “limited time.” These costs can be considerable and add a good part to the final price. For example, I once bought an NFT on OpenSea that cost around $50, but paid $100 in total because of these fees.
However, the limited special appears to have expired – there were still network fees ranging from $14 to $18, bringing the total NFT cost from $32 to almost $50.
This friction felt familiar: the need to go buy more ether to cover the cost of fees, wait for it to process, and then finally buy the NFT.
NFT hype aside, Coinbase is now an even bigger player in the game
Proponents generally say that NFTs make it easier for creators to make a living from their work because blockchain technology gives them more direct access to customers.
But at the end of the day, NFTs are largely speculative digital assets, ones that buyers hope will skyrocket in value so they get a windfall.
Still, the $41 billion market has its followers, and Coinbase’s foray into the NFT trading space indicates it’s likely to remain one of the biggest players in the Defi world.