The cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase and the credit card company Mastercard really want you to buy an NFT, and they’ve teamed up to make it as easy as possible.
The two companies have partnered for Coinbase NFT, a marketplace that will facilitate the purchasing, selling and displaying of non-fungible tokens, which is a unique piece of data that cannot be replicated, and that is stored in a digital ledger or wallet like a blockchain.
Though an NFT can be a variety of things, at the moment they are mostly associated with digital art that the owner can display online, like a picture of Homer Simpson as Pepe the Frog that sold for $320,000.
Until now, you typically had to purchase NFTs with cryptocurrency tokens such as ethereum, but by bringing Mastercard into the fold, Coinbase is making it so that people can now just use regular old credit cards, thus significantly reducing any barriers to entry. It is set to launch soon.
“Coinbase wants to simplify the user experience to allow more people to join the NFTs community. Just as we helped millions of people access bitcoin for the first time in an easy and trusted way, we want to do the same for NFTs,” stated the company on its website.
Coinbase is also planning on working with Mastercard to “to support the crypto ecosystem with new tools for crypto wallets and cybersecurity protections,” according to Mastercard’s blog. Coinbase was founded in 2012 as a block-chain powered company that made it easier to purchase cryptocurrencies, and eventually made it possible to use bitcoin for services such as Stripe and PayPal.
2021 was unofficially the year of the NFT. It seemed like every day some company or celebrity was offering their very own non fungible token for sale; if you wanted you could purchase a Burger King NFT and a Ja Rule NFT on the very same day and display them next to your Spider-Man NFT on your "metawallet", which is a sentence that would have made no sense at all if you read it in 2019.
But while a reasonable amount of people might now know that NFTs are…something, they might also think that buying them is a confusing hassle, or that the tokens are strictly for the rich and people who are obsessed with cryptocurrency the latest in technology.
Right now, the NFT buying process often requires customers opening up a crypto wallet, buying digital currencies, then spending those on NFTs in an online marketplace.
So there's room for improvement, and if the goal is to broaden the pool of NFT ownership, then making it easier for everyday people to buy them with credit cards seems like a reasonable first step.
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin were first designed to get around banks and intermediaries. But banks and payment companies have embraced those technologies as cryptocurrencies become mainstream.
Visa, Mastercard's rival, has more than 60 partnerships with companies in the crypto space, including with Coinbase.