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Blockchains and NFTs

Part of our special research report

State of the NFT Market | Q1 2022

In partnership with CryptoSlam

The world’s first NFT dates back to 2014, when New York artist Kevin McCoy’s animation known as Quantum was originally minted on Namecoin, a blockchain forked from Bitcoin. Quantum eventually sold for US$1.47 million at a Sotheby’s auction in June 2021, but its host blockchain is buried deep in the history of NFTs, rarely visited by today’s collectors.

Ethereum is today’s most dominant blockchain for most smart contract applications, and NFTs are no exception. The Ethereum blockchain, fueled by its NFT standard ERC-721, has handled over 72% of all NFT sales to date. A combination of high transaction fees and questions over Ethereum’s carbon footprint has, however, opened the door to a number of newer blockchains offering cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

As of end-February 2022, Ethereum had topped a million unique buyers which is second only to Ronin, the blockchain where the US$4 billion play-to-earn powerhouse Axie Infinity lives with its 1.6 million buyers. Ronin, however, is a sidechain of Ethereum. It still uses Ethereum technology while unloading transactions to its own blockchain which runs parallel to the latter.

As of end-February 2022, Ethereum had topped a million unique buyers which is second only to Ronin, the blockchain where the US$4 billion play-to-earn powerhouse Axie Infinity lives with its 1.6 million buyers.

Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis built Ronin after seeing Ethereum’s limitations, which became more apparent due to high network congestion as decentralized finance (DeFi) and NFTs surged in popularity. Ronin’s birth was also a signal for competing smart contracts blockchains to take a bite out of Ethereum’s dominance.

Solana is one of those competing blockchains, having risen to prominence in August 2021 when it launched Wormhole – Solana’s bridge to other DeFi ecosystems. Due to its cheaper and faster transactions, Solana has become a popular alternative for NFT collectors and game developers. The number of buyers on Solana is currently less than 25% of Ethereum’s.

With more blockchains entering the conversation, Ethereum’s dominance is no longer uniform across the statistical board. For example, Ethereum ranks third in terms of sellers with 580,000, behind Ronin’s 1.16 million and WAX’s 985,000. Both seller-leaders benefit from high transaction numbers in blockchain games.

Top NFT blockchains by NFT Sales volume

ethereum logo

Ethereum

Ethereum, nicknamed “world computer,” is the world’s most popular blockchain for smart contract applications. It has the highest amount of value locked in DeFi, and the highest sales volume for NFTs.

Launched
July 2015

Cryptocurrency
ETH

2022 NFT Sales Volume
US$6.390 billion

ronin logo

Ronin

Ronin is an Ethereum sidechain home to play-to-earn superstar Axie Infinity. It is a blockchain optimized for gaming developed by Axie Infinity developer Sky Mavis to avoid Ethereum congestions.

Launched
August 2021

Cryptocurrency
RON

2022 NFT Sales Volume
US$209.1 million

solana logo

Solana

Solana is a public blockchain that emerged as a popular alternative for DeFi and NFT applications when Ethereum congestion peaked. Its fast transaction and low fees attract investors from less developed nations, and is often on the top of the list for game developers.

Launched
March 2020

Cryptocurrency
SOL

2022 NFT Sales Volume
US$350.4 million

Source: CryptoSlam, March 1, 2022