EBay Acquires UK-based NFT Marketplace KnownOrigin

E-commerce giant eBay has picked up Manchester-based NFT marketplace KnownOrigin for an undisclosed sum in a deal finalized Tuesday


App for eBay on mobile device. Credit: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • The purchase comes on the heels of eBay’s sports-themed NFT collection unveiled in May
  • The appetite for NFTs has wavered in recent months

Global e-commerce platform eBay said Wednesday it has acquired a UK-based NFT marketplace for an undisclosed sum in a bid to further its efforts in the digital collectible arena.

Founded in 2018 in Manchester, UK, KnownOrigin is a blockchain-powered marketplace allowing artists and collectors to create, buy and sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens). The deal, while scant in detail, has been finalized as of Tuesday, according to a statement.

The move follows eBay’s recent foray into the NFT sector, where the platform launched its sports-themed Genesis collection in May despite waning interest from collectors and investors for digital collectibles. EBay first began allowing the purchase and sale of NFTs in May 2021.

“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,” eBay’s CEO Jamie Iannone said in the statement. “We look forward to welcoming these innovators as they join the eBay community.”

NFTs have slowly edged toward the mainstream since early 2020 following renowned digital artist Beeple’s sale of his “The First 5000 Days” for over $69 million at auction house Christie’s. That sale sparked a flurry of ambitious and opportunistic sellers hoping to cash in on the lucrative trade.

Current market conditions have since seen a slow down of sales and interest in digital collectibles, having peaked late last year. Data from the 90-day trading activity on popular NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea show a steady month-to-month decline.

Still, a company such as eBay — which facilitated over $87 billion in gross merchandise volume last year — could prove to be a boon for the budding sector by lifting the profile of NFTs within the minds of the average consumer.

EBay’s move toward the sale and purchase of NFTs can also be viewed as a defensive stance since its biggest rival, Amazon, began flirting with the idea back in April.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy previously said at the time he envisioned a “possible” future where the platform sold digital collectibles backed by blockchain tech, though details of when and if that would happen remain unclear.

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