eBay acquires NFT marketplace KnownOrigin in digital collectibles push

23 Jun 2022

Image: © JHVEPhoto/Stock.adobe.com

eBay said the deal will help it remain a leading site for digital collectibles, while Shopify has released a new service for NFT fans.

eBay has acquired NFT marketplace KnownOrigin for an undisclosed sum as part of a broader “tech-led reimagination” for the online auction firm.

Founded in Manchester in 2018, KnownOrigin claims to have been one of the first marketplaces where people could buy and sell NFTs through blockchain-supported transactions.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but the companies signed and closed the deal as of 21 June.

eBay first began allowing the buying and selling of NFTs on its platform in May 2021, as part of “significant upgrades” to make it easier for customers to buy and sell anything on the website.

“With this acquisition, we will remain a leading site as our community is increasingly adding digital collectibles,” eBay CEO Jamie Iannone said.

“KnownOrigin has built up an impressive, passionate and loyal group of artists and collectors, making them a perfect addition to our community of sellers and buyers. We look forward to welcoming these innovators as they join the eBay community.”

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital files with ownership recorded and verified using blockchain technology. After a surge in interest last year, the NFT market surpassed an estimated $40bn in value.

Speaking about the transaction, KnownOrigin co-founder David Moore said it will help attract a “new wave of NFT creators and collectors”.

“As interest in NFTs continues to grow, we believe now is the perfect time for us to partner with a company that has the reach and experience of eBay,” Moore said. “With more than 25 years building similar communities of passionate individuals, we are excited by the opportunity to bring a whole new audience on this journey.”

Shopify launches NFT features

Shopify is also making moves in this market with a new service that lets NFT holders unlock perks and products with merchants on the platform.

The Tokengated Commerce service lets users get benefits from their NFTs by connecting their crypto wallets to a Shopify online store. This service can be activated online, through mobile or in physical retail.

Shopify said Tokengated Commerce will be able to help brands partner up and collaborate.

“We’re investing in blockchain technology to make Shopify wallet-aware,” said Shopify EMEA managing director Shimona Mehta. “In the new era of C2C commerce, this makes it easier for NFT holders to unlock personalised experiences with their favourite brands based on the NFTs in their wallets.”

Other companies have been taking steps this year to capitalise on the growing NFT market. At the end of March, Visa launched a creator programme to help groups such as artists and musicians scale their businesses through the creation and selling of NFTs.

Earlier this month, Salesforce also took a leap into the crypto space with the launch of NFT Cloud, its platform for creating and selling NFTs.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic