Blockchains are digital registers of transactions carried out and distributed across a network of computers. The primary qualities of blockchains include decentralization, security, and transparency. A blockchain functions through cryptography, thus ensuring that transactions are secure and unalterable.
For NFTs, blockchain provides a secure and transparent platform for creating, authenticating, and transferring ownership of these unique digital assets. This is possible because the identifying information of an NFT is stored on the blockchain, hence cannot be replicated. Furthermore, blockchain’s decentralized quality allows users to transfer their NFTs without needing a middleman or third party.
Since the advent of the bitcoin blockchain, there have been iterations to blockchain technology to improve its attributes such as security, scalability, and speed, cost. Therefore, an NFT creator or collector needs to consider what an iteration offers before choosing a blockchain for NFT creation or collection. This decision should be based on several factors such as scalability, cost, security, interoperability, and smart contract support.
Scalability refers to a blockchain’s ability to handle an increasing volume of transactions or users without compromising its performance. NFTs require a lot of transaction processing, therefore, a chosen blockchain should be able to handle a large volume of transactions without congestion, delays, or increased transaction fees. An unscalable blockchain would hinder the growth of the project since it cannot handle a teeming user base or transactions.
Indeed, NFT users want to own a unique piece of digital art, however, they wouldn’t want this ownership to come at high transaction fees. This is why a blockchain’s transaction fees must be as low as possible. Although the Ethereum blockchain is the home to many NFTs, its high gas fees are a turn-off for users. Aside from transaction fees, other factors that can impact the cost of a blockchain are development cost, security cost, and infrastructure cost.
A blockchain must be highly secure and resistant to attack. It should have features that protect it from fraud and attack. Some of these features include:
Interoperability allows different blockchains to seamlessly communicate and transact with each other. This enhances the efficiency and connectivity of the blockchains while reducing cost.
Smart contracts are self-executing agreements and are important in NFT development. It is vital for an NFT blockchain to support smart contracts to enable the automatic execution and enforcement of programmable contracts in a decentralized manner.
Given these considerations, below are the top NFT blockchains that possess some of these attributes.
In the NFT space, some blockchains are household names. Top on the list is Ethereum. Others include Solana, Polygon, Cardano, Tron, Flow, Tezos, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and EOS.
Top NFT Blockchains and the Collections and Platforms Built on Them
This is the most popular NFT blockchain. It allows developers to build decentralized applications (dApps) that execute smart contracts. And NFTs are a type of decentralized application.
NFTs are stored and traded securely and transparently on the Ethereum blockchain. Also, Ethereum's smart contract functionality permits the building of ownership and licensing agreements into the NFTs. This further strengthens their authenticity and digital identity.
One can't talk about NFTs and the Ethereum blockchain without mentioning ERC-721. ERC-721 is a technical standard used for creating and managing NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. It provides a set of rules and functionalities for minting NFTs, transferring ownership, and other activities pertaining to NFTs created on the Ethereum blockchain.
Popular examples of ERC-721 NFTs include CryptoKitties, Axie Infinity, Art Block, and Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
Closely following Ethereum is the Solana blockchain. It is a high-performance blockchain for speedy and cheap transactions. The blockchain can process up to 65,000 transactions per second. (For context: Bitcoin processes just 7 transactions per second, while Ethereum processes 27.)
Solana's blockchain allows the ultra-fast purchase, sale, and trading of NFTs at low transaction fees. Like Ethereum, Solana allows the development of smart contracts and decentralized applications. Thus, developers can build and deploy NFT-based applications on the network.
Examples of Solana NFTs include Degenerate Ape Academy, SolPunks, Aurory Project, Oxygen NFT, and SolanaMonkey Business.
Polygon's blockchain is designed as a robust layer 2 scaling network for Ethereum, that is, it operates on the Ethereum blockchain, albeit with more speed and lower fees. The blockchain's architecture allows developers to create and deploy decentralized applications for the minting and trading of NFTs.
Examples of Polygon NFTs or NFT platforms are Decentraland, Aavegotchi, Polyient Games, Zed Run, and Sandeep Nailwal’s #IndiaFightsCOVID NFT.
Cardano provides a highly efficient, secure, and scalable ecosystem for building decentralized applications. It allows artists and other creators to utilize its smart contract functionalities to create their NFTs.
One important benefit of the Cardano blockchain is its energy efficiency and sustainability. Therefore, creators that are concerned about the environmental cost of NFTs can choose Cardano for their creations.
Although the Cardano blockchain is new to the NFT scene, some NFT collections have been created on the blockchain. Some of these collections include SpaceBudz, CardanoBits, Cardano Heroes, Cardano Pixels, CardanoMighty, and Lovelaces.
The Tron blockchain offers a fast, scalable, and high-throughput platform for creating NFTs that can be exchanged at low fees. Like Ethereum, Tron has a technical standard known as TRC-721 that allows the creation of NFTs and other digital assets that cannot be replicated.
Popular NFTs on the Tron blockchain include World of Ether, TRONbirds, TronGoo, TronGolf, Bitizens, TronHero, and TronRacing. Other successful crypto projects on the network are The Crypto Collection and World of Women.
Created by Dapper Labs, the company behind CryptoKitties, the Flow blockchain provides a fast and scalable platform for the creation of NFTs that can be exchanged at low fees. It also allows the development of high-performance, secure, flexible, and versatile blockchain-based solutions. This is because it supports a myriad of decentralized applications with different degrees of complexity.
Some of the NFTs created on the Flow blockchain NBA Top Shot, NFL All Day, Ballerz, UFC Strike, and Matrix World.
Like other NFT blockchains, Tezos supports smart contracts and decentralized applications. Examples of Tezos NFT marketplaces include Objkt, OneOf, Kalamint, FxHash, and Rarible.
Developed by Binance, the world’s leading crypto exchange, Binance Smart Chain is a high-performance and low-cost alternative to the Ethereum blockchain. It is the perfect option for users who want to create and collect NFTs at high speeds and low cost.
Top NFT projects on the Binance Smart Chain include BakerySwap (collectible NFTs), Battle Pets (a gaming NFT), and PancakeSwap (Financial NFTs). Other NFT projects on the blockchain include the Binance NFT marketplace, CryptoBlades, and My Neighbor Alice.
The EOS blockchain offers a fast, scalable, interoperable, low cost, and developer-friendly platform for the creation of NFTs. NFT marketplaces and projects built on this blockchain include AtomicHub, Mythical Games, and WAX.
NFT blockchains provide a secure and transparent platform for creators to monetize their work and buyers to own and trade unique assets. As more industries explore the potential of NFTs, it is expected to see even greater innovation and disruption. Overall, NFT blockchains have far-reaching implications for the future of ownership and creativity.
How do NFT blockchains work?
NFT blockchains work similarly to other blockchains, but they are specifically designed for creating and managing NFTs. Each NFT is assigned a unique digital signature that verifies its authenticity and ownership.
What is the difference between an NFT blockchain and a cryptocurrency blockchain?
Cryptocurrency blockchains manage fungible assets like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are interchangeable with each other. NFT blockchains, on the other hand, manage unique digital assets that are not interchangeable and non-fungible.
What blockchains support NFTs?
Some popular NFT blockchains include Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Flow, and Polkadot.