The budding NFT market ( non-fungible tokens) has had its best year on record, generating over $23 billion in trading volume a skyrocket increase from less than $100 million recorded last year, according to data from DappRadar.
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The Blockchain analytic company tracks more than 30 networks that supports decentralized applications, estimates that the number of unique active wallets engaging in NFT on a daily basis went up from 5,000 at the start of the year to 140,000 by the end of the year 2021.
Venture capital investors now value the industry’s dominant marketplace, OpenSea, at a reported $10 billion, all the while minting new unicorns in the category. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Forbes recaped a few factors responsible for the industry’s explosive growth this year:
Celebrities: Paris Hilton, Eminem, Naomi Osaka, Tom Brady…Name a celebrity that has not boarded the NFT bandwagon in the past 12 months. From simply purchasing these assets to launching their own dedicated platforms, the rich and famous have in large part helped pave the way for digital collectibles to break into the mainstream.
Brands have also plowed into the space en masse. Luxury fashion houses such as Gucci, D&G, and Burberry presented their first virtual wearables; VISA bought one of the 10,000 24×24 pixel images of the CryptoPunks NFT collection, solidifying its blue-chip status, and Nike went as far as acquiring a virtual sneaker and collectibles startup, to name a few!
Auction houses, including Christie’s and Sotheby’s, embraced digital art and started accepting cryptocurrencies for payment. In March, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, joined the club of the world’s most valuable living artists when his tokenized artwork “Everydays — The First 5000 Days”for $69 million.
While decentralized finance applications remained a hot topic in the first half of the year, blockchain-based games, or the so-called.
GameFi (in reference to the financialization of video gaming) have quickly amassed more users than their peer categories. According to DappRadar, play-to-earn games, many of which utilize NFTs, now represent 51% of the industry’s usage, while DeFi accounts for 37%.
The hype, particularly around GameFi, lured venture capital investors, who poured an estimated $4 billion in the category.
Finally, in the wake of Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, the value of metaverse-related projects soared. Blockchain virtual worlds like The Sandbox and Decentraland generated over $500 million in trading volume and reached a market cap of $3.6 billion.