eBay will likely be entering the nonfungible tokens (NFT) sector by expanding its marketplace to offer digital collectibles. eBay’s CEO Jamie Iannone made the indication during an interview with CNBC.
The CEO noted that NFTs already appeared on eBay. “We’re looking at it and exploring opportunities for how we can enable it on eBay in an easy way. If you think about collectibles, everything that’s collectible has been on eBay for decades and will continue to be for the next few decades,” said Iannone.
eBay is currently one of the largest venues for non-NFT trading cards. In the first quarter of 2021 alone, the company reached a gross merchandising value (GMV) of over $1 billion in the collectibles category which represented significant growth over 2020. But 2020 also experienced a 142% increase in sales. Considering the growth in NFT collectibles over the last couple of months, it was only a matter of time until eBay joined the trend.
In a commentary regarding the 2021 Industry Predictions for Trading Cards from eBay’s news team, business analyst Darren Rovell did not mention the escalation of digital collectibles. Instead, the analyst predicted growth in nontraditional cards, vintage basketball cards, and sports memorabilia, among others.
While it is not a complete parallel, NFT collectibles with similar features have become very popular such as NBA Top Shot in basketball and Cryptopunks in nontraditional NFTs. In a similar concept to sports memorabilia, celebrities and brands are turning iconic media and accessories into abstract content and selling them as NFTs. It will be interesting to see how eBay’s offer of NFTs shapes the demand and market for the product, and whether eBay will expand beyond digital trading cards.
The main aspect of eBay’s platform is that it is meant to diminish the friction of transactions. For payments, the company used to own PayPal and it accepts Apple Pay and other forms of payment. Iannone said, “we’ll continue to look at other options like cryptocurrency.”
If done properly, having digital collectibles on eBay may bring a tremendous boost to NFT accessibility. With a few exceptions, currently, various digital collectibles market places and NFT auctions require buyers to purchase the items in cryptocurrency, have a digital wallet to conduct the transaction, or have the appropriate platform to receive the NFT. Addressing these issues might be a challenge for eBay, but that is where the value of their offer lies. And considering the 187 million active buyers on the platform, if they are successful, it might be a turning point in the digital collectibles industry.
Meanwhile, eBay will be facing a lot of competition as it enters the digital collectibles market. Gemini Trust, owned by the Winklevoss twins, launched a blockchain-based marketplace for commercializing digital art collectibles. Mark Cuban invested in NFT platform SuperRare, and NFT marketplace OpenSea recently raised $23 million.