Can You Buy NFTs Without Owning Crypto?

For consumers who want digital collectibles, music or art but feel reluctant to use cryptocurrency, here's some good news.

AccessTimeIconAug 8, 2022 at 7:24 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 3:19 a.m. UTC

You probably closely associate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with crypto. They are, after all, a type of crypto token themselves. But if you’re a little wary of cryptocurrency, don’t let that shut you out of the NFT market: You can now buy NFTs with dollars or any other fiat currency. Here’s how.

How to buy NFTs with U.S. dollars

Let’s take two of the world’s largest NFT marketplaces as examples.

On OpenSea, you click to buy the asset you want, then select the option to use a card at checkout. Next, you'll be asked to check out using the crypto-payment platform Moonpay, which – behind the scenes – buys cryptocurrency via your fiat and uses that crypto to pay the seller.

On Rarible, you click to buy the asset. It will give the Ethereum price at that point, but don’t worry – the next step is to select "Add funds with VISA" or another card. At that point, it will tell you the full price in dollars and Rarible’s payments partner Wert deals with the exchange.

You will still need to connect a crypto wallet to the NFT marketplace beforehand in order to receive the NFT once you’ve purchased it.

What are the barriers to buying NFT without crypto?

There are still big limitations for those who want to purchase NFTs without owning crypto: You can only use dollars in certain places, under certain conditions, for certain NFTs.

OpenSea’s debit or credit card option is not available in all U.S. states or countries in the world. New York and Texas are two big blind spots, with the peculiar caveat that you can use a card in Texas if the payment is in Polygon (MATIC) rather than Ethereum. It’s not available if you’re in Japan, China, Hong Kong or a number of other places either.

Rarible does let you use your regular bank card in almost every country in the world. But you can employ it only to buy NFTs for a fixed price, not to take part in auctions.

You also have to jump through additional know-your-customer security hoops. On OpenSea, you will need to verify your identity with Moonpay directly before you can pay as described above. The payments firm is a completely separate entity from the marketplace. You have to do the same with Wert on Rarible. This is a result of the marketplaces avoiding doing the currency conversion themselves.

And if you do push through those other barriers, you’ll find you have to pay extra fees to buy NFTs with dollars. Moonpay charges its own fees on top of your credit card fees. If the crypto in question is Ethereum, you will find yourself paying Ethereum gas fees too. On Rarible, there is a fixed 2.5% service fee and 4% Wert fee on top of potential credit card and gas fees.

Recent developments in the ways people can buy NFTs

The use of regular bank cards on NFT marketplaces only began in earnest in late 2021.

It was in September 2021 that Rarible announced it had partnered with Visa, Mastercard and Wert to support payments with conventional debit and credit cards. OpenSea partnered with Moonpay in 2022.

That same year, Coinbase announced a partnership with Mastercard in the same vein. At the time of this writing, it does not appear to have been implemented; Coinbase’s NFT marketplace still says you need Ethereum to buy NFTs.

But things are moving behind the scenes.

In June 2022, Mastercard itself said it was working with a whole range of crypto firms to allow its cardholders to buy NFTs on a range of marketplaces. One of its collaborators is Moonpay. Mastercard says that it's found 45% of survey respondents across 40 countries had either bought an NFT or would consider doing so.

The potential impact on demand for NFTs is easy to see. The population interested in NFTs does not necessarily overlap exactly with the population comfortable holding cryptocurrencies. This is likely to be especially true now that the applications of NFTs are spreading rapidly through the economy. The possibility of buying the assets without first converting your currency could significantly reduce barriers to participation for many.

This article was originally published on Aug 8, 2022 at 7:24 p.m. UTC


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Benedict George is a freelance writer for CoinDesk. He has worked as a reporter on European oil markets since 2019 at Argus Media and his work has appeared in BreakerMag, MoneyWeek and The Sunday Times. He does not hold any cryptocurrency.

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