Opera launches first blockchain web browser for buying NFTs — here's how it works

Opera Web5 Crypto Browser for desktop and mobile.
(Image credit: Opera)

Update: Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed NFTs will come to Instagram, though he hasn't specified when or how it might work

Opera may not be the first web browser of choice in a marketplace dominated by Google Chrome, but for avid crypto users, the company's latest web portal might be worth making the switch for.

Opera announced (opens in new tab) its new Web3 "Crypto Browser." It's a web browser. as reported by Engadget (opens in new tab), that contains a built-in crypto wallet with easier access to cryptocurrency and NFT exchanges for decentralized apps, also known as dApps. Opera's new Web3 browser is available now in beta form for PC (opens in new tab), Mac (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab) phones. iOS support is coming soon, according to Opera.

What is Web3

To understand the significance of Opera's latest crypto browser, one must understand Web 3.0, or Web3. At the beginning, the early internet, or Web 1.0, were decentralized networks of servers that people would navigate to individually. For example, users would electively choose to go to Yahoo, CNN or even Tom's Guide. Web 2.0 centralized much of that online maneuverability. Suddenly, users were being curated content through centralized platforms, such as Google and Facebook. In this current Web 2.0 world, a user doesn't go to the New York Times, but rather links to it through a shared Twitter post. 

Web3, as explained by Wired (opens in new tab), aims to free the internet of "monopolistic control." This Web3 world will less be based on server storage and will instead live on the blockchain. Essentially, users themselves will own parts of the internet by having an ownership stake. Trust of the internet would conceivably shift away from Amazon Web Services and instead towards decentralized blockchains. 

Why Opera wants to make the first Web3 browser

"As interest for a more decentralized Web keeps growing, we have chosen to take an active role in shaping what the next generation of the Web looks like and how it will be accessed," said Opera's Susie Batt in a blog post (opens in new tab)

To do this, Opera understands that it will take some learning on the consumer side of things. Understanding the blockchain and cryptocurrency can seem obtuse to many. For Opera, this browser is not only meant to be easy to use, but compelling enough for the vast majority of crypto users to jump ship from Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari. 

Opera's Web3 browser is "specifically designed to work with a variety of decentralized apps, or dApps, as well as provide deeper functionality than a traditional browser that has a basic web wallet add-on," said Batt.

Not only is the browser based on Chromium, the "Crypto Corner" will give users the latest blockchain news, airdrops, upcoming industry events, NFTs, crypto communities, educational content and podcasts. It really does seem that Opera is making the best browser for crypto enthusiasts. 

Users can sign into their crypto wallets directly through the browser, without the need for installing extensions. According to Opera, this adds additional security. Opera will also allow users to use third-party browser-based wallets such as Metamask, Coinbase or Binance. Opera users will also enjoy "no-log browser VPN, native ad-blocker and tracker blocker."

Opera will also implement support of ETH, ERC-20, ERC-721 tokens and ERC-1155 to allow purchase of crypto via fiat currency.

Of course, the high energy load required to move crypto transactions has been a worry for environmental activists. Opera claims it's currently working on Layer 2 adoption for Ethereum 2.0, which is currently in development. It's said that 2.0 will lower the blockchain's impact by around 95%. 

If Web3 is to become the new web standard across the internet, then it wouldn't be too surprising if Firefox, Chrome and Safari soon follow suit. Either way, this could be a much-needed head start for Opera, which holds only 2.35% global market share (opens in new tab) currently.

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.