Fintech

Coinbase will start offering NFTs in a bid to reach the 'creator economy'

The crypto company vows to make buying, selling and minting digital assets more intuitive.

A person with a phone taking photos at a gallery

Coinbase said users will be able to mint, showcase and buy NFTs.

Photo: Miguel Candela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Coinbase will be making NFTs available on its crypto marketplace, marking a bid to expand its reach in the "creator economy," the company said Tuesday.

Coinbase said users will be able to mint, showcase and buy NFTs, which are unique digital records of photos, videos, audio files and artworks. NFTs are a fast-growing segment of the crypto industry, with sales volume soaring to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, up from $13.7 million in the year-ago period.

Coinbase, one of the biggest crypto marketplaces in the world, said it hopes to make NFTs more accessible by "building intuitive interfaces that put the complexity behind the scenes."

"The excitement surrounding NFTs is high," the company said in a statement. "But if you've tried to create or purchase an NFT, you've probably found the user experience lacking. … Creating an NFT should be as simple as tapping a few buttons. Anything more complicated is a barrier to unleashing your creativity."

Coinbase cited the broad appeal and market potential of NFTs as the motivation behind its new service, which recently led Visa to purchase CryptoPunk #7610 and led DJ Justin Blau to roll out a new business model for musicians. The company said users can join a waitlist for early access to its NFT service.

"Artists have used NFTs to shake-up the traditional art world," the company said in its statement. "Industries such as fashion, gaming, and music have begun to recognize the power of NFTs to unlock new types of creativity and ownership."

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who covers Coinbase, said the move will likely strengthen its position in a growing market. The new offering is "another notch on the belt for Coinbase and further paves the path for crypto around this NFT demand explosion," he told Protocol.

Rob Siegel, a management lecturer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, said Coinbase is entering a space that clearly has strong momentum. But he argued that the future of NFTs is still up in the air.

"But I have to wonder at what point people will want to value something that someone has 'blessed' as the original item of something that can be replicated exactly," he told Protocol. "So, as long as someone is willing to pay for NFTs — fine. But there is no inherent value in them. But VCs and the media sure like talking about this."

Podcasts

Should startups be scared?

Stock market turmoil is making VCs skittish. Could now be the best time to start a company?

yellow sticky notes on gray wall
Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

This week, we break down why Elon Musk is tweeting about the S&P 500's ESG rankings — and why he might be right to be mad. Then we discuss how tech companies are failing to prevent mass shootings, and why the new Texas social media law might make it more difficult for platforms to be proactive.

Then Protocol's Biz Carson, author of the weekly VC newsletter Pipeline, joins us to explain the state of venture capital amidst plunging stocks and declining revenues. Should founders start panicking? The answer might surprise you.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin McGarry

Caitlin McGarry is the news editor at Protocol.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Fintech

Data privacy and harassment could spoil Grindr’s Wall Street romance

As it pursues a long-held goal of going public, the gay dating app has to confront its demons.

Grindr may finally be a public company.

Illustration: woocat/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Protocol

Grindr's looking for more than just a hookup with Wall Street. Finding a stable relationship may be tough.

The location-based dating app favored by gay men was a pioneer, predating Tinder by three years. It’s bounced from owner to owner after founder Joel Simkhai sold it in 2018 for $245 million. A SPAC merger could be the answer, but businesses serving the LGBTQ+ community have had trouble courting investors. And Grindr has its own unique set of challenges.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering breaking news. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

Inside the Crypto Cannabis Club

As crypto crashes, an NFT weed club holds on to the high.

The Crypto Cannabis Club’s Discord has 23,000 subscribers, with 28 chapters globally.

Photo: Nat Rubio-Licht/Protocol

On a Saturday night in downtown Los Angeles, a group of high strangers gathered in a smoky, colorful venue less than a mile from Crypto.com Arena. The vibe was relaxed but excited, and the partygoers, many of whom were meeting each other for the very first time, greeted each other like old friends, calling each other by their Discord names. The mood was celebratory: The Crypto Cannabis Club, an NFT community for stoners, was gathering to celebrate the launch of its metaverse dispensary.

The warmth and belonging of the weed-filled party was a contrast to the metaverse store, which was underwhelming by comparison. But the dispensary launch and the NFTs required to buy into the group are just an excuse: As with most Web3 projects, it’s really about the community. Even though crypto is crashing, taking NFTs with it, the Crypto Cannabis Club is unphased, CEO Ryan Hunter told Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Climate

The minerals we need to save the planet are getting way too expensive

Supply chain problems and rising demand have sent prices spiraling upward for the minerals and metals essential for the clean energy transition.

Critical mineral prices have exploded over the past year.

Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The newest source of the alarm bells echoing throughout the renewables industry? Spiking critical mineral and metal prices.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency, a maelstrom of rising demand and tattered supply chains have caused prices for the materials needed for clean energy technologies to soar in the last year. And this increase has only accelerated since 2022 began.

Keep Reading Show less
Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

Latest Stories
Bulletins