As eBay and Rakuten Focus on NFTs, eCommerce Takes Aim at Crypto Marketplaces

While teasing the possibility of eBay accepting bitcoin, eBay CEO Jamie Iannone this week pointed to the growth of non-fungible token (NFT) sales on the eCommerce site as the reason its on-again, off-again flirtation with cryptocurrency may be on again.

That came in the wake of Friday’s more formal press release Friday (Feb. 25) by Japanese eCommerce giant Rakuten that it is launching an NFT marketplace.

Despite NFTs’ raging success within the crypto world, the mainstream market for the media-bearing, unique form of cryptocurrency is still more marketing and hype than reality.

But with the two eCommerce giants throwing their hats into the ring as NFT marketplaces, it’s increasingly clear that mainstream eCommerce firms are determined to ensure they are not left behind if the hottest new cryptocurrency trend is embraced by the general public as strongly as marketers for brands like Nike, Samsung, the NFL and Universal Music Group are hoping they will be.

NFTs are a multibillion-dollar market, but one that is still dominated by crypto, and still very unfriendly to the Main Street buyer. For one thing, top NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible still price NFTs in ether rather than dollars, requiring buyers to provide know your customer (KYC) proof of identity.

Making the buying process easier than crypto-first NFT marketplaces like OpenSea gives mainstream eCommerce retailers determined not to be left behind by a new technology the opportunity to cut crypto NFT marketplaces out before they can conquer the mainstream market they hope will arrive.

eBay Tiptoes In

In some ways, eBay is farther along the road to becoming a significant NFT marketplace than any other eCommerce leader, but it wasn’t intentional Iannone told TheStreet Feb. 27.“We did change our policies last year so that you could trade NFT on the platform,” he said. “…So even without announcing anything […]

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