Kraken – one of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges – officially launched the beta version of its “gasless” NFT marketplace today with 70 top Ethereum and Solana-based collections listed.

Kraken NFT offers gas-free transactions on a platform that prides itself on security and intuitive design. The marketplace is presently only open to customers who joined the waitlist in May this year.

Stockhead caught up with Kraken Australia’s managing director Jonathon Miller to get a lowdown on it all, and discuss the still-buzzy non-fungible token sector more broadly, too.

 

‘Lowering the barrier to entry’ for NFT exposure

Hey Jonathon. For people who aren’t perhaps in the thick of the sector but might be a little NFT-curious, what are some points you’d like to get across regarding the Kraken NFT launch? 

Partly a recognition that the NFT space is still in its very early days, and there are still a number of obstacles to participating in the ecosystem. But with that said, we believe Kraken NFT lowers the barrier to entry for those looking for NFT exposure, and for our customers. We feel it solves real pain points.

When we first spoke to you about it back in May, we headlined security, flexibility and zero gas fees as three standout points for Kraken NFT. No doubt that still holds?

Those are definitely still a core part of the focus. It’s been designed from the ground up to be the most secure and accessible marketplace in the non-fungible ecosystem.

Specifically regarding security – by leveraging the same battle-tested infrastructure that’s kept our clients’ crypto assets secure for the past 11 years, Kraken NFT lets people engage with the NFT space with confidence.

How many blockchains will Kraken NFT be compatible with at launch?

Kraken NFT’s whitelisted collections will begin with those on Ethereum and Solana. We’ll be expanding to other chains soon.

 

Free, secure storage of NFTs already owned

What else makes the platform unique in the space? 

For one, it enables customers to securely store their NFTs on our platform at no extra cost, including NFTs they already own from different networks.

We’re also supporting 200+ funding options. Kraken NFT clients can list or offer an NFT in any of the fiat or cryptocurrencies supported on the platform. Right now, NFTs can be traded in eight fiat currencies, including Australian dollars, and well over 200 cryptocurrencies.

Additionally, customers can buy and sell NFTs custodied on Kraken without incurring high network fees. This means they can trade on the marketplace with zero disruption, even in peak network activity.

And finally, users can also view and purchase NFTs listed on other marketplaces, enabling them to engage in the broader NFT space still under the full protection of Kraken’s secure framework.

 

Rewarding creators

We touched on creator rewards last time around, too. Is that also part of the focus at launch?  

Absolutely. With the creator rewards, we want to ensure NFT creators are always properly compensated for their time and efforts and so a portion of the value sold on our marketplaces goes back to the original content creator.

There are more than 70 collections in the Kraken NFT list at launch. Are we talking “blue chip” NFTs? 

The curated offering represent some of the highest-trading volume in the market today. And that includes some local Australian creators, including Deadfellaz and Lazy Lions. I actually had a really great chat with Betty, co-founder of Deadfellaz, on the Crypto Frontier podcast earlier this year where she shared her perspective on the value of NFTs for creators.

We’re constantly assessing different collections, though, and will be adding more collections to the marketplace soon.

Some examples of Kraken NFT creators at top. (Image supplied)

 

‘As big an opportunity as Bitcoin 10 years ago’

Let’s talk a bit more broadly about NFTs and their future if you have a moment. What’s your hot take on the future of NFTs as digital collectibles? 

I think NFTs are just as big of an opportunity as Bitcoin was 10 years ago. The importance of digital identity and digital authenticity grows each day as the global economy continues to scale into the virtual world, and the potential for different use cases and customisability means NFTs can appeal to everybody.

As digital collectibles, NFTs have proven very compelling for creators and brands at a time when cutting through the noise and connecting with new audiences is harder than ever.

They’re also a game-changing solution for creators looking to effectively monetise their work in the digital world. I really think the communities we’ve seen emerge in this ecosystem are an indicator of how bright the future will be.

And what about NFT usage in terms of their digital-contract utility? 

The possibility for innovation with that is endless. NFTs are inherently flexible and accessible and there’s the potential for many industries to be disrupted, both online and in the real world.

 

NFT market ‘remarkably resilient’

On the whole, sales volume of NFTs has experienced a sharp dip over the course of this year (although October seems to have attracted a slew of new traders). Do you see the intense interest we saw in NFT trading and collecting late last year picking up again any time soon?

While the hype has died down, NFT market activity overall has remained remarkably resilient. Adoption has been exponential over the past two years, with more than $40 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Based on current statistics, though, 2022 has been an even better year for the NFT space than 2021. We’ve also seen continued adoption and investment from big brands in 2022. For example global auction house Christie’s launched an entire division dedicated to on-chain NFTs in September.

More locally, the AFL’s first-ever official NFT collection sold out in less than 12 hours in August this year.

Ah yeah, we’ve briefly covered those two things. 

I hope, though, to see mainstream interest pick back up as some of the barriers to adoption – for example security concerns and complicated user experiences – are better addressed.

That’s what we’re trying to do at Kraken – remove some of these obstacles and make it much simpler to get started and more secure.

What did you think of the Reddit NFT buying surge? Potentially exciting for broader acceptance and adoption?

The Reddit surge is definitely another example of the clear interest and mainstream appeal of PFPs [profile picture NFT avatars].

Do you think the financial value of NFTs ever stands a chance to de-correlate from plunging prices in crypto bear markets and other asset classes? 

NFTs represent a new segment of the market that isn’t entirely focused on price appreciation. At the beginning of the year, we actually saw that NFT prices were roughly inversely correlated with the price of crypto assets over February and March.

I think there’s definite potential we’ll again see growing interest in NFTs and a similar trend emerge in the future.

 

Jonathon’s 5 NFT security tips for beginners

  1. “Strong passwords are essential.”

  2. “Be informed and take your time when making transactions.”

  3. “Always think before clicking on hyperlinks.”

  4. “Purchase NFTs from a reputable marketplace.”

  5. “Be proactively paranoid!”

 

At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Kraken is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article. None of the contents of this article represent financial advice.

The interview was edited lightly for clarity and flow.