Meet the Vancouver company making it easier to buy and sell NFTs

CoinOS promises better access to artists and consumers alike.

An NFT by artist Rare Scrilla debuted on Raretoshis marketplace

CoinOS promises better access to artists and consumers alike

The whole idea of non-fungible tokens can be hard to wrap your head around, let alone the thought of designing or purchasing one. Enter CoinOS, a Vancouver company that recently launched a white-label NFT marketplace designed to make it easy for businesses or individuals to sell their own NFTs.

Typically, NFT designers have to pay somewhere between US$50 and US$100 to mint their products, but CoinOs’s platform allows people to put NFTs up for grabs for minimal fees (most are around 5 cents).

“It’s changed the entire game right now,” says co-founder and CEO Kris Constable. “There’s a bit of a cult following already, but we’re just looking to put it out there. Right now, you’re a struggling artist paying 50 bucks for a piece of art to put it on the blockchain versus 5 cents. It’s a night-and-day difference.”

CoinOS’s platform may have launched recently, but it’s been almost a decade in the making for co-founder and lead developer Adam Soltys, who started the company as an open-source bitcoin wallet app that let anyone send and receive payments freely and instantly from their browser or mobile device.

Now CoinOS has added the white-label marketplace to its existing point-of-sale and peer-to-peer transactions system. The latter is doing about six figures a week.

So far, CoinOS has two NFT marketplace clients in Blockstream and NFT Glee, and two businesses in online digital art gallery Raretoshi and Playboy. Constable is also in talks with a well-known publicly traded exotic car leasing company to build out an NFT marketplace. 

“There are a couple things that NFT offers you that we don’t see in the local art world,” he says, arguing that the digital system allows for verification of the original product, as well as payment security. “When I put an NFT up, I can say that I get 10-percent royalties in perpetuity. So even if it sells in 12 years from now, for an outrageous amount, I’ll still get 10 percent of that because it’s on the blockchain.”

The security aspect in particular is important to Constable, a veteran of the space whom Vancouver politicos may recognize from his run with the Green Party of Canada in 2015. He sought office in the Vancouver Quadra riding specifically to oppose Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who had supported the Conservative Party’s controversial Bill C-51.

“Any time you hear about terrorist financing, money laundering, child porn, these are the three things the government throws out because we’re all afraid of these things,” Constable says. “But when I started looking under the hood of the bill, it basically argues that the government should be able to spy on every Canadian with no reasonable grounds, in hopes of finding something. That’s why I was so passionate about this being the wrong way we should be going as a society.”

Bill C-51 ended up passing with Liberal support (and some amendments), and Murray won in both 2015 and 2019. But Constable’s theory about financial security and how the world should work may have the last laugh, as he details in a story about a trip to the bank.

“I went into the most popular credit union in B.C.—with the current money-laundering rules, anything over $10,000 has to be reported to FINTRAC as a large cash transaction,” Constable recalls.

“Our first big cheque was around $12,000, so I went into the credit union; they knew me, it was my local union. I go in, and they’re like, Kris can you do me a huge favour? They just have this new rule where we have to do a whole bunch of reporting in this cheque. Can you go back and split it into two cheques so I don’t have to do the paperwork? I had a legal financial institution ask me that. I tried not to break out crying and laughing at the same time.”

With the announcement that El Salvador has formally legalized bitcoin as tender, Constable believes the sky is the limit for both crypto and his company.

“There’s such a opportunity right now,” he says, noting that there’s “only really one other big player in this space,” a U.S. company called Zap. “They’re the new, splashy one, but we’ve been in the background with users for a long time, and we’re ready.”