Coinbase Launches Beta NFT Marketplace
Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase finally released a beta version of its much-awaited non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace on 20 April, 2022. At launch the platform allowed only a select number of users to access the exchange.
In the last week of April 2022, the total trading volume generated on Coinbase’s new NFT market is 104.5 ETH, i.e., nearly $300k, with transactions hitting around 900. Almost one-third of the total trading volume ($100k) on the marketplace was generated on 28 April.
According to analytics site Dune, the platform has a total user base of 681, including 281 distinct buyers and 464 unique sellers. Since its inception, the new marketplace has acquired, on average, 100 users per day. Kevin Rose’s Moonbirds project is the most popular NFT collection on the platform, trending above leading NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), Vee Friends, and Mutant Apes. Many Coinbase NFT users are influencers and digital artists based in the U.S. who the marketplace has verified.
The leading NFT marketplace, OpenSea generated over $94.8 million on 28 April, 2022. The Ethereum-based NFT marketplace also boasts a user base of 1.6 million. Although the gap between the two platforms seems unsurmountable, it’s important to remember that Coinbase NFT is currently in beta mode and is only gradually adding new users; 4 million people have signed up for the full version.
BlackRock Unveils Crypto ETF
On 28 April, 2022 asset management firm BlackRock released a new Crypto Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to allow its investors to gain indirect exposure to the cryptocurrency market.
The world’s largest asset manager registered its iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF (IBLC) with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission back in January 2022. Per its filing, the new ETF “seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. and non-U.S. companies involved in developing, innovating, and utilizing blockchain and crypto technologies.”
Exchange-traded funds are proxy investment vehicles that track the performance of their underlying assets. An ETF is available for almost every popular asset including stocks, commodities and real estate. However, ETF issuers in the United States have not yet received regulatory approval to launch products that directly track the performance of a crypto asset. Instead, US-based crypto ETFs track futures contracts for Bitcoin. Grayscale has operated a Bitcoin Trust in the U.S. since September 2013, and Canada’s Purpose Bitcoin ETF, the world’s first, was launched in February 2021. Trusts generally have higher management fees than ETFs.
BlackRock’s iShares ETF will not track crypto-assets; instead, it will track the performance of leading companies in the crypto space. The lion’s share of BlackRock’s new ETF is reserved for Coinbase (11.4%), the leading cryptocurrency exchange in the United States. Other companies included in the BlackRock fund are Bitcoin miners Marathon Digital, Riot Blockchain, and payments company Paypal.
Ukraine to Accept NFT donations
On 28 April, 2022, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mikhailo Fedorov announced that the government will start accepting non-fungible token (NFT) donations. Digital currency users across the globe have been sending cryptocurrency donations to the country since Russia invaded it.
The official “Help for Ukraine” crypto fund set up by the Ukrainian government has received over $50 million in donations and is powered by cryptocurrency exchanges Kuna and FTX.
The money raised from this initiative is being used to supply weapons to the Ukrainian defense forces and to support various humanitarian aid projects in the war-torn nation. Under Fedorov, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation manages several NFT projects, including “Russia for Sale”, an NFT project that sells tokenized Russian properties and “HolyWater”, a collection supporting emerging Ukrainian digital artists. The Ministry has also released the MetaHistory Digital Art Museum, which auctions NFTs featuring moments from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The adoption of crypto among citizens from both of the countries at war has accelerated due to the conflict. While Ukraine is using crypto for military and humanitarian aid, Russians are buying digital assets like BTC to safeguard their wealth from the declining value of the country’s native currency, the Ruble, which lost almost 30% of its purchasing power against the dollar due to the international sanctions imposed by many world governments.