Buying an NFT was way more complicated than it should be
- I wrote last week about what it was like to buy my first NFT on OpenSea.
- It took about seven big steps to finally secure a cartoon pig, which is of no use to me anymore.
- Ordinary users will likely go through the same hurdles, posing barriers to mass adoption.
Earlier this month, I bought an NFT on OpenSea, the largest online marketplace for buying and selling digital assets.
I wrote about how difficult the process was and how long it took me to start from scratch. For the uninitiated, here is a summary of the steps:
1. Buy ether on Coinbase.
2. Set up a digital wallet (I used Coinbase Wallet.)
3. Wait a week before you can use ether outside of Coinbase.
4. Connect my Coinbase wallet to OpenSea.
5. Realize that you cannot purchase NFTs on the OpenSea mobile app; launch on a laptop.
6. Choose an NFT.
7. Buy more Ether on Coinbase to cover OpenSea gas costs; finally buy the NFT.
Now, to be fair, I would imagine that the majority of users participating in this space already own crypto and a digital wallet. But not me, which means many other regular people who don’t know this space would probably be going through the same thing as me.
So why is there so much friction in the NFT market? And how does this bode for them to achieve mass adoption? I turned to an expert.
I spoke to Nick Casares – the product manager of PolyientX, a company that creates tools for NFT developers – that provides tools for NFT communities – about my experience and asked him if there was an easier way to achieve it. He said no: I chose the fastest and easiest open market option.
“It’s not an easy process,” Casares told me. “There are too many hurdles for a consumer to get an NFT.”
(There are other platforms that allow you to buy NFTs directly with a credit card, but that means your ownership of the asset is not secure on the blockchain, so that’s a bit different .)
Casares said there are a few layers to this, including making crypto and crypto wallets more accessible. This may come from integrating the digital asset into popular apps such as PayPal, Stripe, or Shopify.
The idea of a digital wallet is a bit counter-intuitive and may not make sense to everyone at first. However, Casares had a good way of explaining it: think of it as a gateway to Web3 and a way to interact with NFTs.
It is also still a bit difficult for the average person to understand the concept of digital asset. But that is slowly changing, especially after crypto ads dominated commercial breaks during the Super Bowl and those fetching high prices at famous auction houses made headlines last year.
But there are plenty of swirling controversies.
Critics say NFTs are a hyped crypto trend with no real value, while proponents say they’re a great way to build community and empower not just creators, but anyone who buys them. (A huge aspect of decentralized technology is giving participants a say in decision-making within a certain project.)
It should also be noted that enthusiasm for cryptocurrency and other Web3 technologies such as NFTs do not always go hand in hand. I’ve written previously about crypto fans like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey’s disdain for NFTs and the future evolution of the internet centered around AR and VR: the Metaverse.
And even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin told Time that he and many others were donating cryptocurrency to Ukraine as the nation fought off an unprovoked attack from Russia. This is a real use case for digital currencies that doesn’t involve people spending $1 billion on bored monkey cartoons.
“A silver lining to the situation over the past three weeks is that it has reminded many people in the crypto space that ultimately the purpose of crypto is not to play games with. pictures of million-dollar monkeys is about doing things that accomplish meaningful effects in the real world,” he said.