If you’re deep in the crypto world, you’ve probably heard of Coinbase. It’s one of the largest and most prominent centralized exchanges globally, with millions of users relying on the platform to buy, sell, and transfer crypto.
And if you’re fond of NFTs, OpenSea has been your go-to. Its expansive network has dominated the space for years, even with all its pressing issues. #BrokenSea has been a running joke in the NFT community for a good reason.
Over the past year, Coinbase has been hinting at an NFT marketplace with the intent to topple the current king. And even if people vouch for a decentralized world, where no single entity controls a marketplace or exchange, they look forward to Coinbase’s platform. It could be a real game-changer, and the people are all for it.
Well, good news—the Coinbase NFT marketplace beta is here, in all its glory. Will the underdog be able to defeat the reigning champion? The platform isn’t off to a good start, but we may just have to be patient with it.
The history behind Coinbase’s NFT marketplace
It all started in early October: Coinbase announced a waitlist for the early access to their so-called “social marketplace,” built for creators and fans alike. They vowed to make NFTs easier, ranging from the minting, purchasing, selling, and discovery of the crypto kingdom’s precious digital assets.
They also pledged to build a user-friendly interface to improve the user experience. The NFT-verse can be difficult to navigate, especially with crypto’s complex background. A friendly UI would be well-received, as designers and developers strive to enhance the front-end aspects of web3.
This was perfect timing for the blue-chip exchange. NFT sales were ramping up, and people were prepping to spend their hard-earned dollar bills for the holidays. They wanted something different, something that would fulfill their social needs while acknowledging their interest in NFTs.
Little by little, creators heard the calls of duty and rose to action. Notable NFT collections like Doodles, World of Women, VeeFriends, Azuki, and RTFKT are just some of Coinbase NFT’s launch partners. Top it off with famous artists like Deadmau5 and sports teams like Chicago Bulls, and you have one of, if not the most hyped-up crypto events of the year.
Time went by, and no news came about. Crickets were heard in the distance.
The problems kept on coming. Was another OpenSea exploit discovered by the community? Were millions sucked out of the NFT ecosystem due to OpenSea’s carefree approach? Just tweet about it, add the BrokenSea hashtag, and finish it off with “Wen Coinbase NFT?”.
Then, on the 20th of April of 2022, we finally dug up the hidden treasure. The team in charge of the project finally announced Coinbase NFT after an extensive iterative process to hash out the details of the platform.
The question remains though: What’s so special about it? How is it different from OpenSea, and other contenders like LooksRare?
What’s so different about it?
For starters, they really did create a social marketplace. OpenSea barely has social features—you can like the NFTs of others, thus boosting its presence on the platform. But that’s about it.
Think of Coinbase NFT as a social media platform with NFTs as a centrepiece for discussion.
You can log in without the use of a username or password. Just connect your self-custody wallet (which, let’s be honest, it’s probably your MetaMask) and voila: you have full access to your social profile.
Maybe you’re an influencer of sorts, and you want to add some more social proof other than your connected address and profile name. Rug pulls and scams are everywhere nowadays, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your followers need to be able to trust you.
Just connect your Twitter and Instagram accounts. It’s as easy as that.
Your profile is similar to an Instagram account. It displays your following, your followers, and instead of displaying images you post, it’ll show the NFTs you own. How cool is that?
Your followers can also peep the NFTs you’ve created—perfect for artists and creatives. Show off your work with pride, and others can go in and like and comment on each NFT you’ve created or own. Socializing and building social proof are of utmost importance on the platform, and it’s one of Coinbase NFT’s fundamental ideologies.
Or, as many in the space, maybe you want to hide your failures from the public eye. It’s ok anon, we’ve all made plenty of bad decisions with our NFT purchases. There’s a “hide” feature built into the platform solely for this reason. No need to stash your disappointments in a throwaway wallet anymore.
It doesn’t end there: users can also explore NFTs that fit their likings. That’s right—a “For You” page has been integrated into Coinbase NFT, with an algorithm tailored to what you buy and what you view. If you’re like me, you know the TikTok For You algorithm is one of the most addictive features of any social media platform. Imagine this in an NFT marketplace.
Users can also see trending collections and suggestions for accounts when scrolling through the Discover feed. Looks like the algorithm has been curated to perfection.
Oh, and the icing on the cake is the platform’s payment methods and transaction fees. Still finding it hard to purchase ETH? No worries! Use your Mastercard to make a purchase. We can’t stress enough how crucial this is in making NFTs mainstream.
Did we mention transaction fees? Well, there aren’t any, at least not on launch. You still need to pay for gas fees, though! Can’t run away from that.
What does the future of Coinbase NFT look like?
Only time will tell the success of Coinbase NFT. At the moment, it isn’t looking too good for the platform, but there is hope.
Other platforms have come into the market and stolen a portion of OpenSea’s share… but that’s about it. LooksRare airdropped the $LOOKS token, which was practically free money for big NFT spenders. Some even staked the currency and made a hefty bag.
But although people were ecstatic about a new NFT marketplace, their words didn’t speak louder than their actions. As a result, most didn’t make the switch, even if they were happy to see a decentralized NFT platform. It’s sort of like switching over from Windows to Mac. Easy to say, but tough to do.
Coinbase NFT is the first marketplace to bring social engagement to NFTs. Twitter and Discord are the homes of crypto and NFTs, and most people jump on these platforms to discuss the latest news in the space. The new marketplace will streamline the entire NFT user experience.
No other NFT marketplace has accomplished this, at least not of this magnitude.
Their approach to the launch has been slow and steady. The first applicants got immediate access to the beta, then it trickled down the waitlist. Unfortunately, their closed launch week was underwhelming. Only 900 transactions took place, with 73 ETH (equivalent to $210,000) in sales volume. To be fair, we don’t know precisely how many users had access to the closed beta.
Then, as of May 4th, the marketplace opened up to everyone. But, again, the numbers were abysmal—$75,000 in sales volume was recorded on the first day, with a lousy $127,000 proceeding it. Compare this with OpenSea’s $178 and $169 million, respectively, and you can tell it isn’t going too well for the NFT marketplace.
In our opinion, the platform’s approach to the release was adequate, at best. The team in charge of the release didn’t learn from LooksRare’s effective airdrop strategy, which enticed degens to list on the platform. They took too long to release the beta, and as we all know by now—the news cycle runs fast, especially in the NFT world. The hype died down, and people forgot all about Coinbase NFT.
But there’s a glimmer of hope for the marketplace. The developers have had more than enough time to receive feedback, fix bugs, and create a pixel-perfect product for the masses. Add on Coinbase’s renowned international brand, and you have an NFT marketplace that is ripe for the picking, given time and incentives for users to switch over to the platform.
Also, you have to remember: Coinbase NFT is only available in the US, but the company has plans to take the platform internationally. This will open its doors to a broader audience, which may help with the low number of daily transactions and sales volume.