When the largest retailer in the world hints that it might get into the NFT game, tongues naturally start wagging.
From the looks of it, many of the NFT place’s best players are there Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) joins the fray, curious to see how one of web2’s biggest success stories fares with its expansion to web3 and blockchain technology.
“This will be a game changer in NFT, digital collectibles,” said Dave Broome, CEO of Orange Comet, the prolific NFT studio behind collections linked to high-profile individuals and intellectual property such as Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins, NBA legend Scottie Pippen and AMC’s TV series “The Walking Dead”.
“Having a company like Amazon come in with a marketplace not only helps legitimize NFTs … it provides an opportunity to bring the masses into web3,” he said.
While much of the early hype around the digital asset market emerged during a frothy bull run where traders bought and sold expensive, artistic NFTs from collections like CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club and Doodles, it has been more established companies like Starbucks and Reddit that appears to be leading the charge in luring first-time blockchain adopters over to web3. With Amazon having more than 300 million active users worldwide, few companies, if any, have the potential to bring more newcomers to blockchain.
Speculation about Amazon’s plans began as early as last year, after Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company might consider selling NFTs. Since then, separate reports have outlined how the company’s NFT platform might work, where it might initially be available, and what type of digital assets it might offer.
Part of the Anthony Hopkins NFT collection.
However, Amazon has not officially confirmed the speculation. The company also declined to comment when asked about a report that said Amazon was prepared to launch its NFT platform by next month.
For many NFT industry leaders, it is only a matter of time before Amazon—a commercial behemoth where consumers can buy virtually anything—formally begins trading NFTs. Tens of billions of dollars in trade have already been generated in recent years. OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace by dollar volume, has traded nearly 12.8 million ETH (currently more than $20 billion) since its foundation in 2017, according to The Block Research.
Blur CEO Pacman said he sees Amazon joining the NFT space as “positive,” though he was silent when asked what the ramifications might be.
“When new paradigms evolve, it is rare for established institutions to navigate them effectively,” said the leader, whose legal name is Tieshun Roquerre. “Non-tech companies didn’t win as the web gained traction … I’d be surprised if web2 companies make anything compelling in web3.”
Blur’s NFT marketplace has gained ground on market leader OpenSea. Based on current ETH conversion rates, Blur has handled more than $3 billion in trades since its launch in October, according to The Block Research.
At OpenSea, the company’s chief business officer Shiva Rajaraman is optimistic about Amazon’s foray into blockchain and web3.
“We’re excited about the momentum with leaders like Amazon, and look forward to seeing what use cases they focus on,” he said. “More experimentation to learn what works and can scale is beneficial to all of us.”
As the NFT market has matured, its use cases are multiplying rapidly, including acting as access to customer rewards programs, as with Starbucks, or offering concertgoers “digital commemoratives,” which Ticketmaster allows event organizers to issue.
However, for many digital asset leaders, games have the greatest potential to unlock revenue, more than any other vertical. Gamers buying and selling digital artifacts to use when playing their favorite titles can be worth several billion dollars each year given the size of the video game market.
Amazon could be well positioned to benefit from any NFT gaming boom. The company owns Twitch, a streaming platform that is very popular among video game lovers.
“Granted [Amazon’s] deep connection with gaming through Twitch, we could see a big payoff for web3 gaming,” said Magic Eden’s Head of Gaming, Chris Akhavan. Magic Eden is an NFT marketplace that currently plays a key role in web3 gaming, helping with facilitating the trading of i-NFTs for gaming.
Use cases aside, Amazon’s biggest contribution may end up lending credibility to a space dominated by first-time CEOs running new companies, some of which, like FTX, have failed spectacularly, tarnishing blockchain’s reputation.
Additionally, Amazon’s approach could also help differentiate NFTs from cryptocurrency, argues Orange Comet’s Broome, who worked as a successful Hollywood producer before co-founding a blockchain startup in 2021.
“The only way to grow web3 gaming and NFT, digital collectibles is to bring the masses in,” Broome said. “Amazon’s rumored marketplace … will help differentiate a crypto exchange like FTX from a blockchain web3 project.”
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