The evolution of blockchain technology that has taken place since the cryptocurrency boom has led to a number of key developments in the digital space; none more important than the emergence of the NFT. Short for non-fungible token, an NFT is a digital asset that links ownership of any number of digital items, such as real estate, music, videos, or works of art.
Non-fungible tokens are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and they vary in price and demand depending upon the unique characteristics of the digital piece they verify. At a fundamental level, NFTs can be considered certificates of authenticity or proof of ownership for digital artifacts.
The advent of this emerging technology has caused a surge in the number of platforms that facilitate NFT trading and the buying and selling of digital assets. While learning about each NFT platform can seem overwhelming, we’ve listed some of the largest NFT marketplaces below so that you can find the best site to jump in and start trading.
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One of the most popular NFT platforms around today, OpenSea is the largest marketplace for NFTs and offers products in a number of categories including digital art, gaming items, collectibles, virtual worlds, and domain names. Because it’s free to use and open to anyone willing to create an account, OpenSea is often the first stop for NFT traders who are looking to get an introduction to the world of NFTs.
OpenSea’s size, however, can make the site a little daunting – it has over 34 million NFTs for viewers to browse through, over 700 different projects, and it accepts more than 150 different payment tokens. Although the site has a huge amount of inventory and a number of virtual showrooms, it offers a lot of support for artists and has an easy-to-use process if you want to create your own NFT.
Additionally, the platform offers creators an item minting tool to create an NFT collection for free, unlike some other sites which require the artist to write code. This fits in with the sites’ belief that open, decentralized marketplaces are the optimal way to power NFT platforms – meaning that no central authority ever holds control over your digital items.
Signing Up on OpenSea
To sign up on OpenSea, you’ll need an Ethereum wallet like Coinbase Wallet, Fortmatic, or Metamask. There’s also a signup fee to initialize your account. If you’re unfamiliar with gas fees, they’re defined as the cost of validating transactions on the blockchain network. While many NFT platforms take gas fees upfront, OpenSea lets creators mint digital art without paying any fee. This is because, on OpenSea, the NFT isn’t transferred onto the blockchain until the purchase is made.
What this means is that you can turn a digital file into an NFT for free and pay the gas fee after the deal is closed. OpenSea is also known for its low fees and only takes a 2.5% cut after the NFT has been sold. For auctioned items, the seller pays the cut, and the buyer pays it for fixed-price items.
2. Nifty Gateway
Another site that was formed at the start of the NFT craze, Nifty Gateway was acquired by crypto exchange Gemini in 2019 and has since become one of the top NFT platforms in the world. The site became truly famous after it brokered the sale of digital artist Beeple’s CROSSROAD piece for $6.6 million in February 2021. By May, the NFT platform had reached $300 million in gross merchandise value.
Although anyone can apply to create on the site, Nifty Gateway has evolved into an exclusive marketplace for renowned artists and sellers. Known as “Nifties” on the site, the resale value of these NFTs is higher than other platforms, and creators receive a 10% royalty on every resale. While the site isn’t clear about its gas fees, it does take a 5% cut on every sale in addition to a $0.30 transaction processing fee.
One of the drawbacks of a Nifty Gateway account is that the digital assets collectors purchase on the site aren’t stored in their wallets, but are “hosted” by Nifty Gateway and Gemini itself. What this means is that the site’s digital assets aren’t stored on the blockchain. Many NFT buyers feel this removes some of the flexibility and safety normally associated with buying and selling NFTs; however, the marketplace makes up for this perceived shortcoming through flexibility in payment options.
Nifty allows sales and purchases to be made in fiat currency without having to convert cash to cryptocurrency first. Purchases can also be made through credit cards.
One of the site’s perks is its NFT drops, which occur every three weeks and involve the platform teaming up with popular NFT artists such as Beeple, Grimes, Kenny Scharf, Steve Aoki, or deadmau5 to showcase their art. After the initial drop, collectors can send in blind offers, participate in raffle draws, or bid in auctions to obtain NFTs from a specific collection. Keep in mind that once a drop closes or sells out, Nifties can only be purchased from the marketplace.
Rating high in exclusivity, Foundation is a community-maintained NFT marketplace that requires creators to receive an invitation from existing members in order to showcase their art. Because of the tight selection process, the NFT platform isn’t regarded as a great starting point for artists looking to get their work in front of others.
If you want to sell non-fungible tokens on Foundation, you will have to fill out an application and show your art portfolio. The platform will then review your profile and will send you an invitation if your application is successful.
However, if you’re an NFT collector, you just need to have a crypto wallet funded with Ethereum. Keep in mind that the marketplace draws higher prices which attract top creators and collectors. Foundation’s model has so far paid off – since the site’s launch in early 2021, it has sold more than $100 million in NFTs.
So far, Foundation has attracted a number of top artists such as Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, Zach Lieberman, Kim Laughton, Aphex Twin, and Dom Hofmann, the co-founder of Vine. The platform has also gained recognition as the broker of the viral internet meme Nyan Cat, which sold for $590,000, as well as Edward Snowden’s first NFT. Foundation also recently recorded an $809,789 deal for digital artist Pak’s Finite masterpiece.
Foundation, which currently has a trading volume of just over $79 million, charges a 15% cut for all sales. However, the NFT marketplace doesn’t charge an extra fee for buyers, and it adjusts its gas fees depending on how much traffic the site is drawing.
Another hugely popular platform, Rarible is a premier marketplace that has a variety of different digital art categories including photography, music, domains, metaverses, memes, games, and even parcels of virtual land. Signing up on the platform is easy; all you need is an Ethereum wallet. First-time users will find an assortment of NFTs on sale at a fixed price, with other art being auctioned.
The company’s stated goal is to move toward a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). In the DAO system, all decision rights belong to the platform users, a setup that can already be seen in Rarible’s voting structure. Currently, the most active digital creators and collectors on the platform get to vote for site upgrades, as well as participate in moderation and curation.
Rarible has garnered recognition in recent months for partnering with large corporations including Yum! Brands and Adobe in an effort to improve NFT security. Taco Bell has also listed art on Rarible. The platform has profited from its marketing efforts and community-based approach, with Dappradar reporting that Rarible recorded over $210 million in transactions this past month – giving it the fifth-highest all-time trading volume among NFT marketplaces.
What makes the site truly unique is the RARI Token – Rarible’s own cryptocurrency that is necessary to buy and sell on the marketplace. The first governance token in the industry, these NFT tokens are easily convertible from other currencies such as ETH, DAI, and USD. You should also keep in mind that the tokens you create on Rarible can be managed on OpenSea.
Unlike Foundation and OpenSea, Rarible splits the 5% cut it takes on every sale equally between the buyer and the seller. While this means that both parties have to pay 2.5% of the final price, payment options are flexible as the site supports over 20 cryptocurrencies.
While the platform’s RARI Token often gets all the attention, an underrated aspect of Rarible is that creators can earn royalties when their NFTs are resold. This means that certain artists can continue to generate revenue from the same piece of art – even if they’ve only been involved with one sale.
While artists are required to submit their works for approval, the platform allows anyone to be listed on its portal. It also allows creators to specify their own percentage as royalty for secondary sales of art NFTs.
5. Larva Labs
Starting in 2017, Larva Labs is a niche marketplace that is best known for its viral CryptoPunks NFT project. The NFT line began after two coders from the US company challenged themselves to create computer code that “could provide a sense of ownership and value.” The result of that collaboration was Cryptopunks, one of the most coveted NFT brands in existence today – and one of the most valuable.
There have only been 10,000 Cryptopunks ever made, with each photo measuring just 24 pixels by 24 pixels. Each character is created algorithmically and has unique characteristics, such as a mask, hair, or a bandanna, that add or detract value from the piece. The punks include men and women, as well as strange species like aliens, zombies, and apes.
Sold in March 2017 for $7.58 million, Cryptopunk #3100 holds the record for the most expensive Cryptopunk ever purchased. And while every one of these crypto collectibles has already been sold, they can still be bid on and bought from various third-party marketplaces. The chief of these third-party sites is Larva Labs, where the majority of the sales take place.
If you plan on buying a Cryptopunk, be prepared to part with a good portion of your cash. As of January, the cheapest crypto punk is selling for just over $194,000 dollars. This means that buyers on the site are usually limited to hardcore collectors and wealthy art investors.
However, Larva Labs has digital art projects such as Autoglyphs and Meebits – Ethereum blockchain-based app development projects that can be bid on from the platform itself. These NFT collections are cheaper and far more attractive to first-time buyers.
6. NBA Top Shot Marketplace
NBA Top Shot is the National Basketball Association’s foray into the digital realm. Due to the easy-to-use interface and the ease with which the early user can start trading, Top Shot is the first NFT series to be adopted by the wider public. All it takes for a user to sign up is to link their Google account to Dapper.
Created by Canadian developer Dapper Labs, the series is made up of collectible trading cards that each represent a special moment from basketball history. You can think of NBA Top Shot as physical cards that have data stored on the blockchain. This allows them to be kept in a virtual wallet or sent to friends and family.
Part of the success of Dapper Labs’ creation involves the various buyers that have taken an interest in the site. Whether you are a sports enthusiast or just a longtime NFT collector interested in basketball, NBA Top Shot has digital content that appeals to different types of collectors. For example, some highlights can be purchased for as little as a few dollars, while the most valuable Top Shot is a clip of a Derrick Rose layup currently valued at around $1,000,000.
Despite the popularity of Top Shot, there are a number of transaction fees to be aware of when using the site. Although listing items is free for sellers, the platform takes a 5% cut from the seller for every successful sale. And while you can buy NFTs with either a crypto wallet or credit card, using cryptocurrency means you’ll have to pay a gas fee equal to the current gas fee on the Ethereum network.
Additionally, the use of a credit card will bring a processing fee of about 5.2% of the price plus a $0.3 fee for each transaction. Currently, the site only accepts payments in BTC, ETH, BCH, DAI, and USDC.
Describing itself as “Instagram meets Christie’s,” SuperRare is an NFT marketplace is in the early stages of development, but it has the potential to become one of the top NFT platforms. Because the site markets itself as an alternative to Rarible, it can be helpful to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each marketplace.
Like Rarible, SuperRare recently announced its own token of the same name based on the Ethereum blockchain. The tokens will be used in an administrative function to vote on on-site decisions, as well as to attract new artists. These tokens are transferable and can be used on Open Sea.
Each NFT platform also has a different layout. While Rarible’s interface contains an array of eye-popping GIFs and live auctions, SuperRare’s interface strikes the viewer as calmer and can be described as a more bare-bones, minimalist appearance.
Curation of Artists
When it comes to deciding who can sell NFTs on its site, SuperRare implements tighter regulations than just about every other site other NFT platform than Foundation. The NFT marketplace onboards only a limited number of hand-picked digital artists every year, and even then art must be submitted and approved before it’s allowed to be listed.
Exclusivity is further maintained by only allowing single edition digital artworks that are truly one-of-a-kind. Other NFT marketplaces let artists mint and sell multiple iterations of the same art.
All transactions on the site are made using ether, the native cryptocurrency to the Ethereum network, which powers the marketplace.
Keep in mind that SuperRare requires users to have a MetaMask wallet, and to pay whatever the gas fee of the Ethereum network is at the time of buying. The site takes a 15% transaction fee from the seller on every sale and also charges the buyer 3% of the NFT’s final price. However, the platform partly makes up for its steep fees by providing a 10% royalty each time the asset changes hands in the market.
8. Axie Marketplace
One of the most complex NFT marketplaces for new users, Axie Marketplace is the online shop for the video game Axie Infinity. The game itself is quite literally an NFT world where users can create and breed pets called Axies and compete with other players to earn rewards.
What sets Axie apart from other NFT platforms is that the site does not rely on external creators or artists to supply inventory. The Axie characters, which have been described as “fierce” and “adorable,” power the game and serve as the actual NFTs. Each creature is a unique digital asset that can be bought or sold at any time.
Once created, Axies can be trained to fight against other players’ Axies or in-game monsters to earn tokens called Axie Shards. This currency can be put towards breeding new creatures, buying new Axies, or acquiring virtual lands or other accessories.
One of the appeals of Axie’s model is that the NFTs used in the game has an actual purpose outside of their aesthetic value. Players can use Axies to acquire actual in-game resources, a phenomenon that has helped create a real, creative economy. To start playing and earning with Axies, you need to have a digital wallet and some Ethereum.
Despite the game’s unique concept, you can buy and sell Axie Infinity tokens (called Axie Shards) on many other NFT marketplaces, as well as on some cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase Global. This has created a secondary market for the tokens.
However, as Axie Infinity is built on the Ethereum blockchain, the platform requires a MetaMask wallet to get started. New players also need to own at least three Axies before they can start playing. The game also takes a 4.25% cut from the buyer and the seller for every transaction, and breeding an Axie requires a user to pay a fixed fee.
9. NFT Showroom
NFT Showroom is an open marketplace built on Hive, a free blockchain that allows for simple and accessible digital art creation. The Hive blockchain was founded in March of 2020 by advocates of decentralization who were concerned that public blockchains were falling into the hands of corporations. The result of their work indirectly led to NFT Showroom – a much smaller digital art marketplace, but one that markets itself as an NFT platform open to all art styles and levels of experience.
As of January 9, 2022, NFT Showroom disclosed that it had sold 11,651 NFTs from 1,643 artists – nearly double the totals it revealed in March 2021. Part of the platform’s success has to do with the ease with which users can get started. The only thing required in order to begin creating and collecting is to make a Hive account and Hive Keychain.
Keep in mind that NFT Showroom charges a 10% commission when you sell your art for the first time, while, for secondary sales, it collects a 5% commission and gives 5% to the original artist.
While a few of the NFT Marketplaces out there accept payments via credit or debit card, NFT Showroom is not one of them. In order to use this particular platform, you will need to get HIVE-tokens first. You can do so on most of the major crypto exchanges, with Binance being one of them.
10. Binance NFT Marketplace
Deployed on June 24th, 2021, the Binance NFT marketplace has the backing of Binance – the world’s largest crypto exchange. Although a relatively young NFT platform, Binance aims to use a cutting-edge design to focus on NFTs in the visual arts, sports, music, and gaming verticals.
The site itself is split into two main components: Trading Market and Premium Events. Trading Market allows users to display their own NFTs for a processing fee of 1%, which allows them to receive 1% royalty from the proceeds. Premium Events, on the other hand, features a selection of curated NFTs and exhibitions for which Binance will charge a 10% fee and reward creators with 90% of the proceeds.
Binance NFT is unique as the company operates under a “dual chain system,” meaning that it uses its own resources in its proprietary blockchain technology (Binance Smart Chain), as well as the Ethereum Network within its infrastructure. While it is programmed to mainly run on the Binance Smart Chain due to its low gas fees, this dual chain architecture will enable users to view Ethereum-based NFTs in their Binance wallets.
For those who have a Binance account in existence, there is little required to start using the site as your profile will automatically integrate with the site’s NFT addition. Once you’re in, ETH, BNB, and BUSD can all be used to buy items.