Crypto prices may still be well off their highs – but non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces remain a bright spot in the New Digital World. Trading volume peaked in January but is holding well above typical levels of 2021, the original NFT craze. And judging by the Nansen NFT 500 Index, the NFT sector has actually gained +15% in value in 2022 to date.
Nansen also tracks sub-sectors – social NFTs, gaming NFTs, art NFTs, and metaverse NFTs – as well as “blue-chips.” And while the broad index is stuck in a range… social NFTs are actually breaking out. Their year-to-date gain is nearly double the sector, at +28%.
After all, NFTs can be a lot more than just digital art. And in these early days, many of the highest-profile collections and innovations are strongly focused on the social aspect of NFTs.
Coinbase Going Web3 With NFT Marketplace?
As a centralized crypto exchange that profits from trading fees as high as 4% – while the market makers using Coinbase Institutional pay way less … Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) is not normally associated with Web3: the decentralized future where internet services empower everyday users.
But offering a “Web3 social marketplace” is exactly what the company’s going for with its new Coinbase NFT service.
Wednesday’s beta launch was the first glimpse most of us got… And as Jason Yanowitz of Blockworks put it: “Coinbase didn’t launch an NFT platform… they launched Web3 Instagram.”
The first thing you do on Coinbase NFT is “Discover your feed,” where you can Like and Comment on the NFTs. Then “you can create a profile that represents you by curating it with the NFTs that tell your story.”
The Web3 part would be that, to show certain NFTs on your profile, they’ve got to be ones you officially own in your MetaMask or other wallet. And, of course, you can Shop for NFTs. (Currently, there’s 5,277 for sale.)
However: “We’re building a place that’s for more than just buying and selling. We want Coinbase NFT to be a place that helps creators and collectors build and engage their communities,” writes Coinbase VP of Product Sanchan Saxena.
Web3 Instagram, indeed!
0x Protocol Wins Big From Coinbase NFT Launch
The social aspect was way more emphasized than the technology – but Coinbase NFT turns out to be powered by 0x Protocol (ZRX-USD).
0x provides infrastructure to trade crypto tokens and NFTs on Ethereum (ETH-USD), and it’s one of the original holdings in our Ultimate Crypto portfolio, where it’s returned +377% in two years.
That includes a roughly +50% jump on the Coinbase NFT launch. 0x is trading near year-to-date highs after 0x announced the Coinbase partnership Wednesday afternoon:
We’re proud to partner with @Coinbase_NFT to power their new social marketplace for NFTs! ⚡️
By using 0x Protocol, Coinbase provides better ways to discover, buy, sell, and connect around NFTs at the lowest transaction costs for users ⛽️https://t.co/GwZUsh3xzj
— 0x (@0xProject) April 20, 2022
Moonbirds Launch Brings Spike in NFT Trading Volume
Meanwhile, another high-profile NFT collection is attracting major amounts of ETH. If you thought the craze for CryptoPunks and Bored Apes were just a flash in the pan… Then say hello to Moonbirds.
Like those previous collections, Moonbirds is less about the majestic beauty of the art – and more about the status symbol of owning an NFT that’s going for at least 35.5 ETH (over $105,000) on OpenSea. Moonbirds are cute, yet pixelated cartoon owls that get you into the private chatroom (on Discord) of the PROOF Collective, a community of NFT owners and creators led by Kevin Rose, cofounder of Digg.
When Moonbirds launched over the weekend, the leading NFT marketplace “OpenSea recorded its largest day of trading volume in over two months,” CoinMarketCap reports. And in this first week, we’re talking nearly $300 million worth of ETH paid for Moonbirds. That’s more than 10% of OpenSea’s trading volume, in total, in a typical month.
The launch involved at least one celebrity – Jimmy Fallon – but according to the sleuths at DappRadar, he did not actually pay for his two Moonbirds:
Fly, Moonbirds, Fly! 🥃 🦉 @moonbirds_xyz pic.twitter.com/umr2iodtOH
— Fallon.eth (@jimmyfallon) April 19, 2022
Looking at the Ethereum transaction record, it’s clear that Fallon did not send any ETH in exchange for the NFTs, which came from a wallet called MBTreasury, DappRadar reports. “Putting all of this together and making some educated guesses, it seems that Jimmy Fallon received the two NFTs for free as part of the Moonbirds project marketing strategy” to “get attention and generate hype.”
It worked: Moonbirds pricing went from about $7,000 to six figures before you knew it! At that kind of cost, this is clearly a collection more for influencers than any of the rest of us.
However, it does sound like the PROOF Collective has some genuinely cool stuff planned with Moonbirds:
“Once inside [the community], you will have exclusive access to Moonbird-related drops, meetups and IRL events,” and a future metaverse “codenamed Project Highrise.”
“The PROOF-built metaverse will be a dramatic departure from the existing ‘never-ending’ worlds that feel like a digital ghost town,” the PROOF Collective promises. “Ours is uniquely different, and you’ll have first access as a nested Moonbirds holder. The Moonbirds mint is the beginning.”
We’ll be holding you to that, PROOF! Between this and the upcoming metaverse by Yuga Labs, Otherside, it sounds like these high-profile, high-ticket NFTs could be coming together into a true metaverse where you can mingle with your favorite celebrities and personalities. That should get some (virtual) bodies in the door!
In the meantime, be sure to check out our new free report, NFTs Explained. You’ll learn the risks and rewards, debunk some myths, and see how to invest wisely in the “Own Anything Revolution.”
On the date of publication, Ashley Cassell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines. To have more news from The New Digital World sent to your inbox, click here to sign up for the newsletter.