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Coinbase is getting into NFTs.
The cryptocurrency exchange said Tuesday it plans to launch a marketplace that lets users mint, collect and trade NFTs, or nonfungible tokens. Users can sign up to a waitlist for early access to the feature, the company said.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital assets designed to represent ownership of online items like rare art or collectible trading cards. They aren’t fungible, meaning you can’t exchange one NFT for another like you could with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Sales of such tokens have boomed this year. The NFT market topped $10 billion in transaction volume in the third quarter of 2021, according to DappRadar, a company that tracks data on crypto-based applications.
Notable purchases include the almost $70 million someone shelled out for a digital collage made by Mike Winkelmann, the artist known as Beeple, and the nearly $3 million another person paid for the first-ever tweet.
Coinbase said its NFT marketplace, called Coinbase NFT, would include “social features” and tap into the so-called creator economy, a term used to describe the world of people who make money posting videos and other content online.
Advocates say NFTs are a way to fairly compensate artists who’ve seen their income decline due to the widespread availability of media online. Critics, on the other hand, view them as another speculative bubble in the crypto market that’s waiting to burst.
Still, a move into the NFT space could be a way for Coinbase to branch out into new revenue streams — the company is currently heavily reliant on exchange fees. It would also pit the firm against other crypto start-ups like Gemini, Binance and OpenSea, which is backed by early Coinbase investor Andreessen Horowitz.
Last month, OpenSea admitted insider trading took place on its platform. The company is by far the biggest NFT marketplace, according to DappRadar.