eBay made its biggest move yet into the world of digital collectibles with news today of the company acquiring NFT marketplace KnownOrigin. The online auction company is keeping lips sealed on the deal’s value but confirmed in the press release that the deal is closed as of June 21st.
“This partnership will help us attract a new wave of NFT creators and collectors,” said KnownOrigin co-founder David Moore.
KnownOrigin describes itself as “one the world’s first, and largest, NFT Marketplaces,” and it currently ranks No. 12 on all-time trading volume for Ethereum-backed NFTs at $7.8 million, according to DappRadar. Higher ranked, more popular marketplaces include OpenSea (No. 1) with an all-time trading value at $30.43 billion and Decentraland (No. 8) at $155.66 million.
eBay started allowing NFT sales on its site last year. With the KnownOrigin acquisition, eBay has the opportunity to control a proper digital marketplace where NFT transactions can be both monitored and controlled — not just offered with the fingers-crossed hope the seller transfers an NFT to the buyer’s wallet correctly.
Currently, approved sellers on eBay can list NFTs in the same format as a physical item, and many listings today share the details of the NFT mint number and what digital wallet the buyer will need to receive the transfer post-sale. eBay’s current NFT sales method also comes with some caveats, such as a $10,000 maximum, a buy it now model (no bidding or best offers), and a requirement that the buyer and seller be in the same country. NFTs also can’t be sold alongside a physical item.
That last caveat of not being able to attach a physical item to an NFT sale is most intriguing, as, earlier this month, eBay opened a new real-world vault to protect physical collectibles, with the option of allowing instant digital sales of the items without ever shipping them out. eBay declined to comment on whether there will be any integration between physical collectibles in the vault and NFTs in the future.
eBay has been pushing its collectibles business hard in the last year, expanding its authenticity guarantee to make sure trading cards sold on eBay aren’t fake and launching live auctions to showcase even more collectible items. Collectible item sales are at an all-time high coming out of the pandemic, and eBay is taking the opportunity to cover both digital and physical assets with the KnownOrigin acquisition and the eBay Vault — which, as of writing, is still not a place NFTs are eligible to be stored.