June 8, 2022

eBay’s new vault facilitates digital trading of your non-fungible physical items

[The Verge, eBay]

Buy / sell trading cards as quickly as NFTs

Consider dusting off your attic shoeboxes filled with baseball cards; eBay might have a new home for some of them soon. The pioneering online marketplace site built a new 31,000-square-foot facility, called the eBay Vault, which is open now to house graded trading cards that are valued at over $750 and, in the future, physical collectibles of all kinds.

The launch of the eBay Vault comes hot on the heels of its Authenticity Guarantee push, where it expanded from validating sneakers over $100 to partnering with Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) to grade trading cards valued at over $2,000. eBay is so far only accepting trading cards purchased on their site that are already graded by a list of reputable organizations like PSA and Sportscard Guaranty Corporation.UNLIKE NFTS, YOU CAN WITHDRAW AND SMELL YOUR AGING CARDBOARD CUTOUT

Once a trading card purchase happens, the buyer can have the trading card sent to the eBay Vault, where it will not only be stored but also be available to resell without shipping the asset around. The benefit of this, Dawn Block, eBay’s VP of collectibles, states is that it’ll “let collectors streamline and securely store their portfolio of assets” and also buy / sell in an instant as card values rise and fall in real time.

The experience of buying and selling collectibles without ever touching them is very crypto-adjacent. Digital assets like NFTs are not connected to anything physical, so investors can act on market changes in an instant without worrying about the time it takes to “move” the asset.

Now, with eBay’s vault system, you can have that instant gratification of owning something physical that you don’t have the closet space for. But, unlike NFTs, you could pay eBay a fee to withdraw your actual trading card and send it to you (in-person visits to the vault are forbidden), so you can smell that aging cardboard cutout.

eBay got into selling NFTs about a year ago. (According to this FAQ, they are not eligible for storage in the vault, and, unlike StockX, eBay is not producing NFT assets on the blockchain to link to stored items.) But the company has worked even harder on ensuring buyers get authentic physical objects. While the pandemic invigorated the collectible market and overwhelmed grading companies, eBay pushed to make listing Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards easier, and it now hopes to cash in on this new way of shifting physical assets. Hopefully, it will succeed before supply saturation, but, according to eBay, trading cards are still hot, with trading cards selling on average two units per second in Q1 2022. No word yet on whether eBay’s vault will carry classic video games, but it might get to the “$3 billion in assets” mark in its facilities faster by holding onto graded game carts.

By Umar Shakir

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