Beyond Artwork: The Evolution of NFTs
It’s quite surprising when you realize that just a year ago, back in early January of 2021, we hadn’t yet experienced the record-breaking $67 million Beeple auction, the launch of The Bore Ape Yacht Club, Mark Zuckerberg’s renaming of his $128 billion company to Meta and so many more NFT milestones. So much can change in such a short amount of time.
And yet, as quickly as the NFT space has blown up, it’s easy to forget that the technology behind non-fungible tokens has been around for a while now. To understand what 2022 holds for NFTs, we will first need to take a step back and understand how NFTs came to be, before we can appreciate where they are going.
The Origins of NFTs
On 3rd May 2014, Kevin McCoy, a digital artist, minted the first-known NFT Quantum – a pixelated octagon filled with different shapes that created a hypnotic effect. In November 2021, this Quantum sold for over $1.4 million in a Sotheby’s auction.
Image source: Kevin McCoy, “Quantum” (2014-21), non-fungible token (image courtesy of Sotheby’s)
During the years 2014 to 2016, a significant amount of development and experimentation saw the rise of platforms built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. This was the start of Ethereum’s initial reign over NFTs. A notable platform is Counterparty (Bitcoin 2.0) which enables the creation of digital assets. Later, Spells of Genesis pioneered the issue of game assets. The year 2016 saw the creation of memes with the release of Rare Pepes NFTs on the Counterparty platform.
Image source: Rare Pepes
How have NFTs evolved over time, and what new features have been introduced?
The NFT utility hype
At the beginning of 2017, NFTs featured static art images. They fetched high prices in auctions, but there wasn’t much you could do with them (other than look at and appreciate the artwork).
Next came multimedia NFTs. This was a movement ushered by the NBA Top Shot and its ingenious hoop highlights collectibles. With this kind of NFTs, there was more to look at with a dose of gamification. However, there was still a need for NFTs to do more.
Image source: NBA Top Shot
This led to the creation of utility NFTs. With utility and functionality, NFTs started demonstrating real-world benefits and ownership accessibility from exclusive invitations, airdrops, in both primary and secondary marketplaces. This utility aspect made NFTs more practical.
The NFT gaming projects
Between the years 2018 and 2020, NFTs caught public attention through NFT gaming and Metaverse projects. The first to enter this space was the decentralized Ethereum-based VR (Virtual Reality) platform Decentraland (MANA). Here gamers can explore, build, play games, collect items, socialize, and much more in a user-generated 3D world.
Image source: Decentraland
Soon after, platforms and games with Enjin Coin (EJN) emerged – a blockchain-based platform that allows developers to tokenize in-game items on Ethereum. And then, we saw the rise of Axie Infinity (AXS), a blockchain-based trading and battling game that is partially operated and owned by its players. All such platforms were in the development stage through the crypto bear market until NFTs went mainstream in 2021.
The 2021 NFT explosion
In 2021 other blockchains like Cardano, Solana and Tezos jumped onto the NFT wagon with their own versions of NFTs, establishing new standards to ensure that the digital assets represented are authentically one-of-a-kind.
By the fourth quarter of the year, there was an immense surge in NFT demand, especially in the Metaverse, immediately after Facebook’s announcement of renaming itself as Meta and making a massive move into the Metaverse itself.
At Phemex, we are excited to see where the NFT industry is headed. We believe that NFTs are here to stay and will only continue to grow in popularity. As the industry matures, we expect to see more utility and functionality built into NFTs. This is why we are glad to introduce NFT contract trading pairs for our users. Now, you can trade the underlying asset without having to own the NFT. This is just one of the many ways we are working to make cryptocurrencies more accessible to everyone.
Phemex’s Big Step Towards NFT Contract Trading Pairs
Phemex has been rapidly expanding its list of carefully handpicked coins on its site that demonstrate strong innovation and credibility in the NFT space. Some of our notable contract coins that are now available to trade include NEAR protocol (NEAR), GMT (STEPN), APE (ApeCoin), SAND (The Sandbox), AXS (Axie Infinity), OMG (OMG Network) and MATIC (Polygon).
These new listings unlock access to some of the most popular NFT coins in the market. We believe that this will help in opening up the world of NFTs to a wider audience and contribute to the growth of the industry as a whole.
How could the future of NFTs look
The rapid adoption of NFTs has caught everyone by surprise. In just a few short months, the industry has exploded and is showing no signs of slowing down. So what does the future hold for NFTs?
We believe that the possibilities are endless. As the technology matures, we expect to see more utility and functionality built into NFTs. This will make them more practical and stable. We also expect to see more platforms and games emerge that are based on NFTs. And as the industry continues to grow, we believe that it is only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream technology.
If you are new to Phemex, we welcome you to try out our platform and take advantage of all that we have to offer. Our user-friendly interface is designed for both beginner and advanced traders. We also have a knowledgeable support team available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. Visit us today and start trading!