As NFT popularity rises, the demand for them is also increasing. If you’re new to non-fungible tokens, you must know what NFT blockchains suit your preferences.
Usually, when people enter the NFT space, they buy, sell, or trade collectibles on Ethereum. However, Web3 is beyond just ETH or BTC. Many networks are considered a rival to Ethereum, even though they might not be as popular.
For any small investor, choosing the right protocol can be a challenge. Just like a variety of crisps brands, non-fungible tokens are also minted on multiple networks, giving more facility and utility to the user. Here’s all you need to know about NFT blockchains:
Why are NFTs minted on the blockchain?
For newbies, you must be wondering why blockchain technology is so essential for NFTs. Well, the non-fungible tokens, by definition, are digital assets stored in a blockchain that uses smart contracts to feed proof of ownership. Whenever someone buys collectibles like a music track, artwork, small audio, or anything in digital form, ledger technology stores the data on the network permanently.
NFTs are known to give individuals ownership over their assets without any third-party involvement, and blockchain is a medium to access these collectibles on trading platforms.
There are dozens of NFT Blockchains currently existing in the Web3 space but out of them, 10 are recognized worldwide.
Top 10 NFT blockchains you should know
Speed: 12-25 Transactions per second
Consensus model: PoS
The world’s second-largest protocol with millions of daily users, Ethereum (ETH) has established itself as an authentic brand in the Web3 space, co-founded by the chairman Vitalik Buterin released in 2015.
Almost every famous project is minted on ETH under the standard token of ERC-721 and ERC-1155. The ERC-721 is solely made for NFTs having different characteristics related to other tokens and their metadata on the same smart contract while ERC-1155 can function both as fungible and non-fungible.
By providing sustainability, scalability, and high-speed transaction, this network is one of the best places to buy and trade non-fungible tokens. If you’re into blue-chip NFTs, then Ethereum might be the best platform for you.
ETH recently went through The PoS merge where it transitioned from the proof of work model to the proof of stake, making it environment-friendly and more sustainable than ever.
For NFTs, Ethereum comprises many famous platforms like OpenSea, projects like Moonbirds or BAYC, and artists like Beeple, the creator of the most expensive non-fungible token ‘Everydays.’
Many people trust ETH because it’s much more regulated and secure than others. However, the high gas fee can be quite challenging for small investors.
Speed: 65,000 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoH
After Ethereum, Solana (SOL) takes the lead in the NFT space managed by Solana Foundation. In fact, it is considered the rival of ETH because of the trading volume that has at some point surpassed Ethereum’s.
Solana is a blockchain network built on a Proof-of-History along with a PoS model that offers a 0-2% transaction fee with high scalability and transaction speed. PoH is a model that cryptographically reads the passage of time and events within a timeline to ensure it’s in the right order and reaches the chosen validator when attached to the PoS algorithm. Solana has replaced decentralization to make it more scalable and low-cost. Nonetheless, it’s secure and smooth in terms of operations.
Over the past year, Solana has gained a lot of attention in the collector market. Despite the bear market this year, the NFTs minted on its trading platform surpassed the trading volume of top collections on ETH.
This blockchain is suitable for new collectors because of its less expensive gas fee and user-friendly interface. Solana is home to Magic Eden, which is the second-largest marketplace in the world with its best-selling collections including Okay Bears, DeGods, y00ts, etc.
Speed: 65,000 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoS
Polygon(MATIC), aka Matic Network, is a layer-2 scaling platform on Ethereum that bridges projects on the blockchain. The protocol is widely known for being a good alternative for ETH-based projects.
Since Ethereum had a high gas fee, Polygon emerged as a revolutionary platform that could solve this problem with fast transaction speed. For non-fungible tokens, this network is perfect for minting or trading. For environmentally-conscious users, Polygon is a carbon-neutral chain that plans to go carbon negative this year.
A lot of Polygon-based collections have been launched such as Reddit avatars, Monster Apes, and many more.
Speed: 100 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoS
Flow (FLOW) is a leading blockchain developed by Dapper Labs in 2019. You might know about this network from Meta’s new NFT feature on Instagram and Facebook that allow Flow-based collectibles on the platforms.
Since the beginning of its launch, the protocol has constantly promoted itself as an environment-friendly and highly scalable platform for dApps and digital assets. The multi-role architecture allows the smooth operation of a huge number of users to collectively interact with NFTs. Compared to other blockchains, Flow is relatively new but has managed to climb up the market by actively upgrading its network.
The most popular platform on Flow is NBA Top Shot, a National Basketball Association-licensed marketplace where fans can collect digital trading cards of their favorite basketball players. Other than that, Blocktobay is another popular marketplace for non-fungible tokens.
Speed: 1 million transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: LPoS
Driven by innovation, Tezos (XTZ) is a decentralized platform for DeFi, digital assets, and applications. It is a progressive network enabling the creation of smart contracts for developers.
The blockchain is an open-source protocol utilizing its self-amending function for protocol upgrades to keep up with the latest developing technology. Tezos has a lesser gas fee than Ethereum and it is faster than any other blockchain to exist; 1M TPS.
The network is built on Liquid proof-of-stake (LPoS) that contributes to governance liquidity through staking XTZ coins by validators. For NFTs, the blockchain has the standard token FA2 that assigns token ID and proof of ownership of the token to the holder’s wallet address.
Objkt is the largest NFT marketplace on Tezos where users can buy, sell, and trade digital assets stored in the network at a low fee and high transaction speed.
Speed: 55 – 60 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoSA
BNB Chain (BNB) is an ecosystem divided into two chains namely, Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain, for crypto exchange, NFT market, dApps, and other programs. It is one of the largest chains that run on the proof-of-stake-authority model and has compatibility with Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
The ecosystem consists of 21 validators that provide short blocks and low gas fees to users. Out of 21, 11 of the validators are responsible for the Binance Chain connected to the crypto exchange.
Although Binance is known in the crypto community for its exchange, the marketplace is also quite an active user engagement. The standard token is BEP-721 for non-fungible tokens. The main marketplace has three categories:
- NFT: trading cards, PFP avatars, and other collectibles
- Gaming: in-game assets
- Mystery Boxes
Binance is centralized making operations more secure and safe from hacks. However, people prefer Ethereum over Binance when it comes to buying digital collectibles.
The top-selling collection on the Binance Smart chain includes Cake Monster, MetaGods, PancakeSwap Squad, MetaWars, etc.
Speed: 250 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoS
Cardano (ADA) is yet another sophisticated blockchain developed by Charles Hoskinson, the co-founder of Ethereum. Cardano ranks 7th among the best blockchains in the world with a strong presence in the crypto trading market for its native coin, ADA.
It is a two-layered platform, the Cardano Settlement Layer and Cardano Computation Layer, that contributes to the smooth running of the operations. CSL facilitates and records ADA transactions while CCL has the role of deploying smart contracts in the system.
The high transaction speed and advanced technology of Cardano make it one of the best protocols for non-fungible tokens. In fact, its Layer-2 scaling protocol, Hydra, claims to have the potential to approve 2 million transactions per second.
On Cardano, you can easily buy, sell, and trade collectibles. Some of the NFTs minted on the ADA-based trading platform CNFT.io are Cargo Miners, SpaceBudz, Pavia, ClayNation by Clay Mates, and The Ape Society.
WorldWide Asset Exchange WAX
Speed: 8,000 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoS
WorldWide Asset Exchange (WAX) is a growing network for digital collectibles, mostly focused on Web3 gaming. In other words, WAX is widely known for listing the best in-game assets for trading.
Launched in 2017 by William Quigley and Jonathan Yantis, this network emerges as a universal platform to develop dApps and trading marketplaces. Unlike other networks, WAX is focused on promoting play-to-earn Web3 gaming through collectibles. Some of the well-known game projects built on the WAX ecosystem are Alien Worlds, Blockchain Brawlers, Prospectors, and Famer’s World.
The blockchain uses the proof-of-stake model to maintain its sustainability, cheap transaction fee, and user royalty. All the fee earned from the platform is equally distributed in its community, making it a source of passive income for investors. WAX has also partnered with Climate Care to make its ecosystem environment-friendly.
The network is home to various NFT marketplaces like AtomicHub, NeftyBlocks, and WDNY.io that have listed collectibles from collaborations with NASCAR, Hot Wheels, Godzilla, The Princess Bride, and Spiderman.
All in all, WAX is highly focused on bringing Web3 gaming NFTs and play-to-earn game mechanisms into the mainstream.
Speed: 2,000 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: DPoS
Tron (TRX) is an open-source smart contract-based blockchain by Justin Sun committed to building a decentralized internet ecosystem in Web3 space. The network is controlled by the Tron DAO, a non-profit organization.
This protocol is perfect for collectibles because it aims to become the main platform for collectibles and dApps through its smart contract mechanism. Tron maintains its scalability through the delegated proof-of-stake where nodes approve transactions through a vote by 27 representatives.
The NFT marketplaces based on Tron are quite convenient for those who cannot afford to trade collectibles on big platforms. Collections like BAYCTron, MAYCTron, Tpunks, MetaZodiac, etc.
Speed: 4,500 transactions per second
Consensus mechanism: PoS
Avalanche (AVAX) is a layer-1 network by Ava Labs that claims to have the fastest smart contract in the industry. It is a highly scalable, eco-friendly, and low-cost platform for NFTs and decentralized applications.
Avalanche is perfect for creators and artists because it features an NFT Studio in its crypto wallet which makes minting new collectibles easy and quick with an 80% parameterized safety minimum, making it much more secure than any other network.
The network recently introduced Liquidity Book, a next-gen AMM that offers active and flexible liquidity provisioning, maximizing yield-generating activities. Avalanche has introduced marketplaces like APENFT, Trader Joe, NFTrade, and Kalao to trade, buy, and sell collectibles.
How to pick the best NFT blockchain?
Every creator or collector has the choice to pick what network they wish to mint their NFTs on. Each network has its own pros and cons that need to be weighed wisely to ensure they align with the vision of the project or collection.
When picking a blockchain as a collector or creator, the following are the main factors you need to consider:
- Gas Fee
- Transaction Speed
- Consensus Mechanism
- Smart Contracts
Whenever you buy, sell, or trade collectibles on a network, a certain percentage of the gas fee applies to the transaction, which is a source of income for validators for their services.
To explain this better, validators are needed in a blockchain to approve transactions. They help maintain operations and secure exchanges between two parties. So, the users who use the blockchain are obliged to pay the transaction fee in return for their services.
Gas fees vary in every network based on what model they use or how busy it is. A network with high traffic will incur higher gas fees compared to less traffic.
For small investors, a blockchain that charges a 0% fee is the perfect network because they don’t need to pay the extra money, while big collectors can buy from a high gas fee network.
Transaction speed is an essential component of any platform. For creators, it’s important to mint non-fungible tokens on a network that can handle huge amounts of transactions within a minute or so.
Any veteran collector knows that if the blockchain gets clogged with users, not many people are able to buy the collectibles easily. The biggest example is when BAYC’s Otherdeed collection dropped on Ethereum, the marketplace got clogged but was still able to handle the massive transactions.
We all know scams are common in the Web3 space. The biggest reason why people aren’t adopting this new technology is: they are scared of getting attacked by hackers. However, many protocols have worked on their security component to keep the operations running.
For any investor or developer, protocol security must be the main priority for trading. The Ronin bridge hack is the biggest security breach up-to-date, costing up to $600M in loss to the network, all because there was a bug in its system.
Every network has a consensus model on which its foundation infrastructure is built. This mechanism is also directly linked to the environment, so if you’re conscious of that, you need to pick a network very carefully.
There are mainly two types of models, Proof of Stake, in which validators stake coins to approve transactions, and Proof of Work, in which high computational power is needed to process transactions. PoS is considered more environment-friendly than PoW because supercomputers consume a massive amount of energy for operating the protocol.
Smart Contracts are automated programs that have set terms to execute transactions between two parties. This technology maintains the overall security of the network.
Although this might not be important for users, it plays an essential role for developers and creators. Whatever platform you choose must have sustainable smart contract technology that can handle programs and trading platforms smoothly.
Non-fungible tokens are expected to grow even more in the coming years. Currently, almost every industry is exploring different possibilities through digital assets to achieve its own goals.
Blockchains have an essential role in the Web3 space to expand further. By introducing new facilitating tools and upgrades, these networks are making the impossible possible. However, each blockchain has its own pros and cons that need to be weighed carefully before launching your project or simply buying a collectible.