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FTX Taps Solana and Sports Legends to Score Big in NFTs

OpenSea better watch its back. 

Crypto investors have known for weeks that FTX, the offshore exchange that handles about $40B in daily trading volume, was spooling up an NFT minting operation. Then word came early this week that the Hong Kong-based platform was going to enable its customers to withdraw NFTs from FTX on either the Ethereum or Solana blockchains. 

“We are working directly with creators of top collections on Solana and Ethereum to ensure that our marketplace meets their needs, and ensures authenticity and proper curation of these collections in our store front,” tweeted Brett Harrison, president of FTX US, yesterday.

That’s no small thing. Thanks to its high-speed processing and lower costs, Solana has been a red hot player this year — its token SOL has tripled in the last 30 days and now sports a market capitalization of $47.5B, according to CoinGecko data.

Brand Ambassador

Moreover, FTX is rapidly becoming a household name in crypto. Taking a page from the playbook of traditional corporations, FTX has embraced professional sports as a time-honored way to make a splash in the marketplace. In March, FTX paid $135M for the naming rights to the arena where the Miami Heat basketball team plays its home games. A few months later, it signed a deal with Major League Baseball, and with Tom Brady, the crypto-loving, Super Bowl winning quarterback, who took an equity stake in FTX and became a “brand ambassador.” 

Yesterday, NBA star Stephen Curry followed suit with his own FTX partnership. The championship-winning point guard has recently started using a Bored Ape NFT for his profile picture on Twitter. Both he and Brady could launch collections of NFTs connected to their sports careers on FTX’s platform. This all bodes well for FTX’s NFT push.

The Miami Heat now play in the FTX Arena

“They keep racking up new super influential people who I think can be big brands that funnel NFT-style things onto the platform,” said Mario Gabriele, the founder of The Generalist tech newsletter

Yet in terms of distribution, the Solana move could be especially influential in making FTX a formidable competitor in the burgeoning NFT retail space. More liquidity tends to attract NFT creators and that could turn FTX’s minting platform into a go-to destination for new projects.

Secondary Markets

FTX isn’t stopping at primary sales either. Users will also be able to transfer their NFTs from the Solana and Ethereum blockchains for resale on secondary markets. This puts FTX in competition with Ethereum-focused OpenSea, which facilitated over 1.6M NFT trades in August.

Users will be able to buy NFTs directly from FTX with a bank account, credit card, or crypto, according to Harrison. That may be a smoother process compared to OpenSea, which requires the know-how to use an Ethereum wallet like MetaMask. 

FTX’s FTT token was down 6.6% in the last 24 hours amid the broader swoon in the crypto markets.