Boy oh boy, what a year. Crypto is cool, NFTs are the hottest thing in town and the metaverse is here. There ought to be a bingo somewhere for this kind of alignment. So yes, when pixelated JPEGs of apes/ whales/ and whatnot are among the hottest assets in the world (mind you that oil, gold and real estate still very much exist), it's fair to say that something is probably going down. If you're already part of the crowd that wants to ride this new gold rush, you're probably familiar with the ins and outs of non-fungible tokens. But if not, good news. We've put together this short and sweet guide to ease you into the world of NFTs and the best NFT marketplaces to check out before committing to your first token purchase.
WHAT IS AN NFT?
First things first, you might want to get to the bottom of what exactly is an NFT. An NFT is short for non-fungible token, which means that whatever NFT you come across (and there are some weird ones out there), each is unique, not interchangeable and impossible to ever be replaced with another item because there's nothing else in the world that could have the same value.
Think of it like a one US dollar bill having the same value as all one US dollar bills in the world, while an NFT has no equivalent or counterpart. It's also important to keep in mind that NFTs and the unique data associated to them are registered on a blockchain, a public ledger representing the ownership and authenticity of each token. And since the blockchain can't be hacked or tampered with (we won't get into the details), all NFTs are therefore authentic and, again, one-of-a-kind.
Digital assets in the form of NFTs can range from paintings, collectibles and all types of artwork to more bizarre options like wedding rings and toilet paper. In fact, pretty much anything can be NFT-ed these days which has led to a massive boom in the sector, particularly when it comes to crypto art. NFTs are widely seeing as a solution to a long-standing vulnerability of the online world - the fact that anyone could easily copy, paste, re-share and even alter virtual assets - until now. There's no faking in NFT-ville, making it a very attractive proposition.
WHAT IS AN NFT MARKET?
Artists and creators need a platform where they can be easily matched with potential buyers (or collectors), and sell their art. This is where NFT marketplaces come into play. Cutting to the chase, these are platforms where you can buy, sell, and create (or mint) NFTs. NFT marketplaces rely on blockchain technology to ensure the authenticity and provenance of their NFTs. Moreover, marketplaces offer another advantage for artists who can automatically receive royalties each time their artwork is re-sold. Most NFTs can be purchased with ether (ETH) and in order to buy your first piece of NFT, you'll need to set up an digital wallet. This is usually a pretty straightforward process and there are plenty of guides online on how to do it. So, once your over with this initial step, you'll probably want to compare different marketplaces and see which ones better adjust to your budget, your long-term goals and creative needs.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KEEP IN MIND BEFORE BUYING AN NFT
There are several factors you should take a close look at when dipping your toes into the NFT universe. First off, let's talk currency because different platforms will process transactions in either/or fiat (like USD) and cryptocurrency. This means that users might have to have different wallets attached to their profiles so that's an important consideration to keep in mind. Another issue is the gas fees, the fee users pay for transactions or for minting new NFTs, for example. These can vary from marketplace to marketplace so better read the fine print before settling for a specific place. And equally as important, there's a vast universe of NFTs out there, from more popular ones like the CryptoPunks to more niche artwork. Your choice of NFT marketplace will likely depend on what you're looking for and which platform is able to offer it.
TOP NFT MARKETPLACES TO KNOW
OpenSea is the world's largest NFT marketplace and the one that has really helped put NFTs on the map in 2021. This hugely popular peer-to-peer platform allows users to buy, sell and mint their own NFTs. One of its biggest advantages over other marketplaces is the sheer quantity of NFTs on offer across a wide range of categories, from art and collectibles to Web3 domains and virtual real estate. Earlier this month, OpenSea surpassed $10 billion in trading volume, making it the busiest NFT platform out there. This is a great marketplace for those who aren't looking for a niche type of digital art necessarily, but ready to consider a wide range of options. Users can buy NFTs at a fixed price or place bids during auctions.
Nifty Gateway ranks among the top NFT marketplaces, after cementing its status as a platform for 'curated' drops, exclusive and time-limited NFT collections by some of the world's most in-demand digital artists like Pak, Beeple and musician Grimes. Nifty Gateway has been expanding into more universal types of NFTs, including avatar collections. All NFTs that are bought and sold on the platform are called “Nifities”.
Rarible is a community-owned NFT marketplace, where creators can also use the platforms software to mind new NFT art. Since Rarible caters to a much smaller audience when compared to OpenSea, for example, it's easier to find the NFTs you having and track your artwork if you're a creator. This NFT platform also has lower listing and transaction fees in comparison to others, which is a major plus for those just starting out on the world of digital art.
Like OpenSea, SuperRare is a peer-to-peer NFT marketplace and features single-edition works. The platform describes itself as "Instagram meets Christies" (in part because it does follow a visual layout similar to that of Instagram), and in order to be accepted for a token listing on SuperRare, creators must submit an application first. So, if you're looking for hand-picked artists and artworks, this is the right platform for you.
MakersPlace has sold artworks by some of the hottest artists like Dreamonaut, Frenetik Void and Yura Miron and it focuses on digital fine art, making it a leading platform for truly exclusive NFTs. More than that, MakersPlace was the marketplace who in partnership with Christie's was behind the record-breaking sale of Beeple's 'The First 5000 days', which went under the hammer for $69 million back in March. This is also a very user-friendly option as you won't have to have a digital currency wallet to use MakersPlace, so all you have to do is sign up and start browsing the vast NFT catalogue on offer.
And speaking of exclusive platforms, Foundation is another great NFT marketplace for those looking for a one-of-kind NFT. One of the reasons that sets this marketplace apart is that new artists have to be invited by existing creators or voted in by the platform's community.
This NFT marketplace is entirely run by artists and like other platforms, it takes the approach of offering curated collections to its users. Creators are easily able to showcase and sell their art directly to collectors and the platform's focus on authentic and unique pieces sets it truly apart from the competition. However, if you're looking for the more bizarre type of NFT, perhaps KnownOrigin isn't the right choice for you as this marketplaces focuses mostly on unique digital art as opposed to NFTs of memes, avatars, and other themes.
Perhaps you've heard of Axie Infinity the game, but you're yet to realize that there's a whole marketplace for Axie NFTs. Sure, you won't find digital works of art here but Axie Infinity NFTs rank amongst the most valuable in the market, with rare in-game monsters (or Axies) going for as much as $1.5 million. In fact, Axie has become so popular and profitable, that gamers across the world have made it a full-time occupation. If you're looking for an investment more than a purchase motivated for your love of digital art, perhaps you might consider looking into this game an Axie or two.
And speaking of marketplaces outside the realm of digital art, Dapper Labs' NBA Top Shot is the go-to place for sports digital collectibles, more specifically cards, video clips and other memorable NBA moments like a LeBron James dunk or a Vince Carter three-pointer. Users can buy, collect and trade these NFTs, which have become extremely valuable over the last year.
Mintable is fast becoming one of the leading NFT marketplaces, especially after its latest update where it added a number of great features like a rarity meter, NFT subcategories and an improved search feature that lets users find more easily an NFT of their interest. For all its user-friendly features and vast digital art collection available, this market for non-fungible tokens is perfect choice to close this list with.