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OpenSea Wants NFTs to Evolve as Market Plunges 63%

Last year was not a good one for non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Sales for the blockchain-based digital assets fell 63% to $8.7 billion in 2023, even with volume tripling between October and November, Bloomberg News reported Sunday (Jan. 14), citing data from CryptoSlam. 

As that report notes, NFTs were a defining feature of the crypto bull market in 2021, deemed the more accessible way for everyday consumers to access the digital currency market. 

They were even something of a status symbol: anyone willing to spend the money could buy an NFT and make it their profile picture on Twitter. These days, Bloomberg says, X — as Twitter is now called — no longer supports NFT profile pics.

Devin Finzer, CEO of NFT marketplace OpenSea, told Bloomberg that the industry thinks of NFTs as more than just collectibles, and said he defines industry — and company — success as more than just sales figures.

“One of the things we’ve been most excited about is not necessarily how do you drive the most volume, but rather, how do you build sort of the most compelling use cases for NFTs,” he said.

Finzer said his company is at work on “OpenSea 2.0,” an upgraded platform he said will provide a better user experience and greater differentiation between NFT categories as more uses for the tokens develop. 

At the moment, he added, NFTs are displayed the same on OpenSea and other platforms, no matter if they’re a gaming token or an event ticket.

“We really want to have a marketplace interface that can be better customized to suit each type of use case,” he said, adding that OpenSea is at work on displaying ticket NFTs on a calendar and sorting them by date.

The report also notes that while NFT sales were dropping, the price of bitcoin — the most popular cryptocurrency — jumped 160% in 2023.

However, last year crypto startups struggled to raise funds amid a regulatory crackdown and two high-profile criminal cases.

Venture capital investment in the crypto industry dropped to just $9.5 billion during the year, less than a third of the prior year’s total. 

The sector’s troubles were especially pronounced during the fourth quarter, when FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of multiple fraud charges, and Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao entered a guilty plea to violating anti-money laundering requirements.