NFTs or non-fungible tokens to give them their full name are digital assets which can take the form of art, collectibles, a piece of music, or represent a real-world asset, such as real-estate. As blockchain technologies evolve and Web 3 continues to grow, developers are continuing to explore the world of NFTs, pushing the boundaries and utilizing them in innovative ways.
If you’re an NFT enthusiast ready to build your own project, one of the first things you need to consider is which blockchain you’re going to run it on.
Different blockchains have different qualities, functions and features, which can mean one blockchain is better suited for one type of NFT. So, what factors do you need to consider in order to choose the best blockchain for your NFT campaign?
Measured in transactions per second (TPS), the blockchain’s transaction speed will greatly affect the success of your NFT project. The higher the transaction speed of a blockchain, the more transactions they are capable of performing. This not only affects the waiting time for confirmed transactions, but it has a huge impact on transaction costs. A blockchain with a low throughput means higher fees paid to incentivize miners to prioritize transactions.
Not all NFTs sell for $69million like Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days. The majority of NFTs on the market are in-game items and digital collectibles that are relatively affordable. So if an NFT doesn’t cost much, paying high transaction fees doesn’t make sense. Choosing a blockchain with lower transaction fees will be more attractive to the end users and help you stay in control of NFT development costs.
NFTs are implemented and executed on the blockchain using smart contracts. Before choosing your NFT blockchain, check out which smart contract programming language it uses. For example, can you apply a widespread language such as C++ or do you need to spend time finding/hiring a professional with specialist language skills? It can have a huge knock-on effect on your development time and budget.
How a blockchain maintains its consensus, whether its Proof of Work, Proof of Stake or Proof of History can affect transaction times, fees, and security. However, there are greater implications for the environment which should also be considered. PoW requires a huge amount of computational effort consuming a lot of energy resulting in huge amounts of greenhouse gas while Proof of Stake is considered much more energy-efficient.
Now that you know the necessary criteria for choosing the best blockchain for NFT development, we can explore the most popular options and what they have to offer.
Launched in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum is one of the largest and most popular blockchains. Being the first blockchain to introduce smart contracts, Ethereum is like the NFT mothership.
It implemented the two main NFT token standards- ERC-721 (for fungible tokens) and ERC-1155 (for fungible and non-fungible tokens) which are the basis for the majority of existing NFTs. Read more about the different token standards here.
Ethereum smart contracts are written using a programming language called Solidity which is compiled by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Solidity looks like Java, so if your developers have Java experience it should be a little easier to pick up, otherwise be prepared for a steep learning curve.
That said, the established NFT blockchain provides a developer portal with resources, technical documentation, tools, tips, and tutorials. It also boasts a huge developer community which means any bugs get fixed quickly and improvements and new features are added regularly.
The other good thing about Ethereum is that it is leveraged by the top NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea, Rarible, Nifty Gateway, KnownOrigin, SuperRare, and Decentraland.
However, Ethereum does suffer from lower transaction throughput. It has recently “improved” from 13-15 transactions per second (TPS) to around 25-30...still not great when you compare it to some of the other blockchains on our list.
But as Ethereum moves from a Proof of Work consensus mechanism to Proof of Stake, the TPS should continue to increase. This move in consensus mechanism will also help reduce Ethereum’s infamously high gas fees and reduce its huge energy consumption.
Binance Chain was launched in 2019 but lacked the ability to support smart contracts. Instead of trying to integrate smart contracts into the existing chain and risk slowing down the network, a separate blockchain dedicated solely to smart contracts was developed— Binance Smart Chain.
Although just launched in 2020, BSC is quickly becoming a popular alternative to Ethereum. It has its own token standards, BEP-721 and BEP-1155, which are compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). This allows the smooth import of projects from the Ethereum blockchain while granting the support of BSC tools and dApps.
BSC has been using Proof of Stake from the beginning, so fees are kept lower and transaction throughput higher than on Ethereum. The blockchain can handle approximately 55 to 60 TPS and according to the Binance support documents, it costs 0.000001 BNB to create an NFT on the Binance Smart Chain.
Flow is another relatively new chain on the block launched in 2020 by Dapper Labs, the minds behind Cryptokitties, the NFT collectible craze that crashed Ethereum.
Flow is a PoS based NFT platform that is gaining popularity for gaming, metaverse NFTs, and digital collectibles.
One of its unique selling points is the upgradeable smart contracts powered by Cadence (Flow’s programming language) which is marketed as being easier to learn than Solidity.
As well as being easy to utilize, Flow has the ability to power entire ecosystems of dApps with enhanced scalability achieved by its multi-node architecture.
Instead of all nodes doing all of the tasks (collection, consensus, execution, and verification), Flow’s architecture breaks them up so that nodes can specialize in just one. This more efficient system ensures cheaper fees and a much higher performance. Instead of TPS in low double digits, Flow can execute more than 10,000 transactions per second.
Polygon, formerly known as Matic Network, is a Layer 2 blockchain. Its network is Ethereum-native, designed as a scalability solution and compatible with Ethereum Virtual Machine and all existing and future Ethereum infrastructures.
Polygon’s unique selling point is its versatile framework providing interoperability with other layer-2 solutions, sidechains and sovereign blockchains. So, if speed of development and scaling opportunities are key to your NFT project, Cardano may be the blockchain of choice.
It also enables “lazy minting” of NFTs – which means there is no upfront costs to mint the NFT, instead the fees are charged when the NFT is sold.
The PoS blockchain also offers low energy consumption and an incredibly fast 65,000 transactions per second and seriously low fees costing less than a fraction of a cent.
Launched by Ethereum's co-founder Charles Hoskinson, the proof-of-stake blockchain is focused on scalability and efficiency. Like Polygon, Cardano is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine and supports Ethereum-based smart contracts and DApps.
Cardano provides 250 transactions per second but its layer 2 scaling solution, Hydra, due to be released sometime in 2022, is set to increase this to 1 million TPS.
Another feature that sets Cardano apart from the other blockchains for NFTs is the scientific research at its core. It is the first blockchain founded on peer-reviewed research and to use evidence-based methods to develop and enhance the network.
What this means for developers is a highly versatile and technically rich environment for designing highly scalable and robust NFTs and applications. In fact, according to blockchain analysis firm, Santiment, Cardano attracted the most development activity during 2021.
Solana’s security combines two consensus mechanisms, Proof of History (PoH) and Proof of Stake (PoS). PoH lightens the load on validators, as instead of them having to communicate to verify time, PoH allows timestamps to be built into the blockchain itself through a verifiable delay function (VDF).
This allows Solana significantly reduced validation times with a much greater throughput of 50-80K TPS, reduced time for smart contract execution, and more storage on the network.
Solana prefers to use old-school programming language, calling smart contracts “programs” which are deployed using Rust C, and C++. Rust is a much harder language to learn than Solidity, which according to Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko will attract professional programmers and developers who can build custom, scalable programs.
Like Ethereum though, Solana also has a thriving developer community who are seemingly attracted by the low transaction fees of approximately $0.00025.
Crypto APIs product suite can help you with building and managing your NFT project. Our blockchain tools allow you to obtain fee recommendations specifically for EIP 1559 while our endpoints allow you to get NFT details for wallets including HD wallets (xPub, yPub, and zPub). Contact us to learn more about how Crypto APIs can support your NFT project.