NFT Tech

A Closer Look at Solana: ‘Ethereum’s Rival’

If you’ve been looking for alternatives to Ethereum, Solana should be on your shortlist.

Solana is a Swiss project launched in April 2020 by Anatoly Yakovenko. Solana competes with larger networks by incorporating a hybrid consensus model that boasts cheap and speedy transactions. In its hybrid model, Solana uses a combination of proof-of-work and proof-of-history to increase efficiency.

Initially founded in 2017, Solana was intended to achieve scalability and lower fees, exposing specific weaknesses of comparable blockchains like Ethereum. At its core, Solana is especially focused on maximizing throughput (high transactions per second).
Solana has seen considerable growth, jumping to the top 7 in market cap ($44+bn) in just its second year on the market. In September, Bloomberg hailed Solana as a ‘long-term rival’ of Etherum.

Solana’s ecosystem versus L2 Ethereum

Layer 2 Ethereum is the first iteration of Ethereum 2, intended to reduce gas fees and slow network speeds during volume spikes. Let’s compare L2 Ethereum to Solana’s emerging ecosystem.

Solana’s dApp universe is interoperable, meaning all SOL dApps can communicate with each other on the same layer. As an example, Project Serum is one of Solana’s most successful partners to date. A SOL-based blockchain game, Star Atlas, was able to build the peer-to-peer economy aspect of its game using Project Serum, while the Solana protocol powers the game itself.

L2 Ethereum can not boast the same level of composability. Composability is a powerful utility that rivals Layer 2 ETH, which launched earlier in 2021.

In blockchain, composability refers to the ability for applications and protocols to interact with one another in a permissionless way— meaning they are constantly talking to one another and leveraging each other’s code, and therefore each other’s utility. (CoinMonks).

dApps built on the same chain can bridge, but Ethereum has many different chains.

In other words, L2 ETH dapps can’t communicate as easily. Bridges will certainly build over time, but cross-communication is one of the core tenants of defi. Without the ability to interact with other apps, projects become less valuable.

The value of both Ethereum and Solana

Traditional Web2 companies like Twitter and Facebook thrive on a lack of composability. Centralized tech platforms monopolize user experience. The control of user data allows these companies to extract unequal advertising market share.

Crypto is the opposite. Blockchains are trustless, meaning one executive team can’t just arbitrarily change the rules at any given moment.

In Web2, you can use an API call to hook up Mailchimp to your web application. It works great, then Mailchimp’s Board decides to change its rules on a dime. Now that API communicates with Mailchimp in a way that hurts your app.

In Web3, ETH-based dApps are not victims to Vitalik Buterin’s shower thoughts. Hope that one hit.

Tl;dr: composability is a key component of blockchain technology, and Solana is beating L2 Ethereum at blockchain bridging… for now.

How Solana can capitalize (and learn) from Ethereum’s maturity

As more successful projects launch on and support Solana’s protocol, opportunities will emerge. Solana already saw a major boost with the backing of FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried.

More quality projects = more powerful bridging.

Blockchain games can seamlessly cross chains to interact with their universe, defi tools can merge with other defi tools, creators can drop NFTs on personal marketplaces with a set of standards.
Scalable composability allows users to go beyond curated galleries like OpenSea or Solsea and enter a truly decentralized art/media paradigm more comparable to the Fediverse.

#147 Michael Cera
A Michael Cera-themed NFT on Solsea, an SOL-based alternative to OpenSea.

Scalable, uninterrupted collaboration will be a competitive advantage for SOL over ETH projects in the near-term. In many ways, it is also why the project was created in the first place. There is a reason why SOL coins have steadily grown over 17000% since launching last year, after all.

To be clear, seamless bridging exists on the ETH network. But scalability becomes more complicated on L2.

As CoinMonks puts it, “In L1, a single transaction can interact with multiple DeFi protocols to create a brand-new financial product. On L2, that transaction can only interact with the DeFi protocols that exist on its own chain.”

To combat this, popular layers like Polygon are seeking to standardize L2 solutions in a single framework. But consolidating L2 solutions into one platform is difficult. In a decentralized ecosystem, governance and market adoption is not so simple.

So why did ETH move to L2?

Layer 2 was built to drive down costs.

By handling transactions off the mainnet (eth L1), the network is less busy, and users get 1) faster transaction speeds 2) lower gas fees.

Interestingly enough, part of the intention behind L2 Ethereum was to promote scalability. Way back in 2011, Ethereum didn’t have the foresight to build a protocol that maximizes throughput and composability at the same time.
Therefore, updates like L2 are necessary to expand value and feasibility for users. Cardano, Terra and Solana are all projects that were birthed out of a craving for lower fees and greater scalability.

Solana’s community is growing

One of ETH’s greatest strengths is its cult-like community. .eth Twitter handles have become ubiquitous. For a young project, Solana is captivating a loyal audience.

There is an unprecedented excitement for new projects (and a lot of scams) in the space right now. To stay relevant, crypto advocates have been quick to utilize public figures as effective marketing tools.

Mike Tyson, one of the more notable celebrities to adopt crypto culture, was wondering how SOL and ETH matched up.

The mere fact that it was a worthy debate was a win for Solana.

With Tesla and Bitcoin’s breakup back in May highlighting climate concerns, emerging blockchain ecosystems are ripe for rocketship growth. Solana was quick to jump on this opportunity.

On that day (May 12), SOL was trading at around $42 USD. Today, it is trading around $145 USD.

Limitations of Solana compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum

While SOL is certainly competitive and growing, it is not without limitations.

SOL mining requires a lot of computer power compared to traditional protocols. To run a Solana node, you’d need a multi-thousand dollar home computer, or a high-powered server purchased through a (centralized) third-party provider like Google or AWS.

Some critics speculate that a large portion of validators are operated on AWS or by a small collection of the project’s early investors (ie Solana Foundation). This is not uncommon for early-stage projects, but it is something worth observing over time.
Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah, Solana’s 17-hour outage was anything but settling. I think that drama showed the world just how robust Ethereum’s infrastructure truly is.

Closing thoughts

ETH maxis, hold your beer. ETH is not going anywhere. Every zealot needs a healthy skeptic. Looking at you Ryan Sean Adams.

SOL enthusiasts: not only is Solana new, but it also has a lot to prove.

Let’s just appreciate another good foot in the race.


SNKR WARS Builds a Footbridge to the Metaverse

One of the biggest challenges to the mainstream blockchain is that it’s entirely virtual. NFTs remain lines of code on a ledger that point to patterns of pixels on a screen. You can’t even pet Dogecoin’s shiba inu. As long as potential users feel that their million-dollar crypto-purchases vanish every time they turn off their devices, blockchain will fight to build trust beyond early adopters.

That gap between the virtual crypto world and the real world is closing, however. Experiences and physical goods tied to NFTs are bridging the way to mainstream adoption. And if you are going to cross that bridge you may need some sneakers. 

Marc Scepi is a footwear designer who, over the last 25 years, has worked for brands including New Balance, Timberland, Teva, and Saucony. He’s also a cryptocurrency enthusiast and when Covid struck, he took the opportunity to dig into NFTs. It wasn’t long before he was wondering how to find a connection between the crypto world and his passion for sneaker design. 

The result was SNKR WARS, a robot-themed metaverse that turns NFTs into physical footwear.

Launching on the Solana network at the end of October, SNKR WARS depicts a battle between two opposing teams of cyborgs. Cypherpunks fight for freedom and decentralization; K-Otic Corp. battles for greed and stasis. Every few months, SNKR WARS will release NFT drops of different characters but some rarities will include metadata that allow the owner to obtain real, physical sneakers. Availability is limited to between 100 and 500 pairs. 

With the launch of SNKR WARS’ Arclands metaverse, collectors will be able to import their NFT sneakers and avatars and trade their designs in the metaverse’s ecosystem. Visitors to the metaverse will even be able view and buy sneakers from retailers that they can wear in the real world. 

“The concept of our metaverse is to allow brands to easily plug and play in our world, create a 3D virtual retail space, and mint their products as NFTs,” explains Scepi. “Consumers will be able to see the products in 3D, spin them, see reviews, etc., then purchase them as an NFT, store the digital version in their wallet and have the physical product shipped to their home or picked up at a store near them.”

SNKR WARS’s second drop will be made up of collaborations. Smart contracts will enable designers who add their own sneaker designs to the metaverse to receive royalties every time a sneaker is bought and traded on the secondary market. “Everyone that touches the art piece will get a percentage of its profits,” says Scepi. “This is my way to give back to the design community I love so much.”

SNKR WARS represents the first major bridge between metaverses and the real world, a way of creating a digital imprint of physical ownership and a physical version of a digital product. But there’s no reason for that bridge to be built only of footwear. 

“Connecting these worlds can lead many different industries to follow this model,” says Scepi. 

For now, we’ll be crossing the bridge on foot but how long before we’re traveling between real and virtual worlds by bicycle—or in custom-designed, NFT cars that you can then pick up at your local showroom?

Finance NFT

How NFTs Are Transforming The World As We Know It

NFTs are all the hype right now in the crypto community. So hype in fact, that even some big-name influencers have started to create and collect their own NFTs in an attempt to jump aboard the ship, and ride out the NFT wave.

As these digital assets pave their way as the new technological boom since web 2.0, more people outside of the crypto realm are beginning to take notice as well, leaving many wondering: are NFTs changing the world, and if so, how?

Non-fungible tokens are changing the world through their ability to digitize literally anything and everything. Not only do NFTs digitalize assets, they create a platform where we are able to transact in a trustworthy and transparent manner, with anyone, anywhere, and at any time of the day, while also being able to prove ownership via the blockchain.

Let’s take a look at all the various ways I believe NFTs are changing the world.

1. Digitalization

NFTs are digital assets that can be created from literally anything. The ability to digitize anything, be it a house, a vehicle, or even an experience, is really something we’ve never been able to do.

This digitalization allows for individuals, brands, and large-scale businesses to offer their consumers anything they want to, even before the physical product or experience is ready for production.

What’s even crazier to think about is the ability to display anything and everything you own, all from the security of your digital wallet, which is displayed for the public to see.

So, let’s say that elegant house you just bought in Miami also came in the form of an NFT. This NFT also includes the contract for the loan on your house, and even allows you to make payments from your wallet, all while being displayed in your wallet as proof that you own that loan for that specific house.

This is just one example of how NFTs allow us to digitize assets, such as a house. But just imagine for a second, the ability to turn anything digital, sell it, market it, and earn a living doing so.

This, my friend, is all very realistic indeed. Plenty of folks are already making a living digitizing their work and offering it up for sale in the form of an NFT, all from the comfort of their home.

2. Decentralization

One of the more obvious traits which NFTs are known for is their decentralized state of being. NFTs live on the blockchain; the blockchain acts as a digital ledger that proves ownership, tracks every transaction, and cuts out the middlemen, aka the government.

I believe that many people, especially a large portion of the crypto community, are pushing for a more decentralized world where individuals are able to benefit directly from their own work by ridding the middleman, and offering their skills directly to the consumer.

In a decentralized world, the quality of life for people such as yours and mine could change drastically—giving us the capability to earn more from our hard work and transact more efficiently than ever before. With transactions happening directly between two parties and no middleman to interfere, there’s no buffer time, only frictionless and transparent agreements.

Moreover, decentralization means that there is no permission needed to post something or sell anything from a specific authority, but instead, there are numerous nodes (stored in systems all across the network), with no single “shut-off” button.

3. Transparency

Thanks to blockchain technology creating ultimate transparency, we can transact with trust between all parties.

Web 1.0 gathered and organized information, web 2.0 was used for creating and distributing content, and web 3.0 is known as the decentralized web, which is built on blockchain technology. Because the blockchain acts as a digital and permanent ledger, the ability to view any transaction is all available to the public.

This kind of transparent relationship between people benefits everyone. When it comes to web 3.0, there is no more lying about what you own, who you are, or what your interests are, because everything you own is displayed digitally for the world to view.

Both businesses and consumers can appreciate the transparency provided with every transaction that occurs on the blockchain, when using NFTs.

4. Proof of ownership

With proof of ownership, we are able to prove exactly what we own, when we got it, and who it came from.

Proof of ownership and transparency go hand in hand. NFTs allow people to prove their ownership of any asset they hold. With everything being stored on your personal wallet address and recorded indefinitely on the blockchain, proof of ownership has evolved into a super easy way to and frictionless way of verification.

This ease of verification can be applied to something as simple as a concert ticket, or something as intricate as a contract for purchasing an entire business.

5. Access

In my opinion, one of the most beneficial aspects of non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology is the ability to transact 24/7, 365 days a year. Considering that the blockchain is always in operation and people are transacting at different times of the day, all around the world, NFTs allow creators and consumers to interact directly with each other at all hours of the day, and night.

To my point, NFTs give creators the means to offer any product and/or service to anyone, anywhere, and at any time, benefiting both parties by simplifying the transaction and forming a more personalized experience all together.

As well, smart contracts—which can be written into NFTs—give creators the option to add additional value through utility, perks, terms, and everything in between. This is the access we have all dreamed of.

6. Social Signaling

As humans, we love to communicate our interests and passions to others. Social media was the most recent platform that everyone used to communicate what it is they do, as well as, portray their version of themselves. Whether that person portrays themself authentically or not has always been up for debate, until now.

Non-fungible tokens are the new form of social signaling. Except with NFTs, you better be ready to handle the truth, because that’s all you are going to get. As NFTs continue to transform the way we communicate truthfully, it’s safe to say that the people will follow the truth seeking herd.

Spend one day on crypto Twitter and you will see many users flexing their PFP NFTs like it’s everyone’s business. It’s true now more than ever; the NFT community is so small that you are able to tell someone’s status and knowledge in the space simply by taking notice of which NFTs they have collected and who they choose to support.

This type of social signaling is not a new behavior at all, but NFTs give it a new truth. The fakers will not benefit from this new truth, but rather they will be exposed. Likewise, the authentic ones will greatly benefit from remaining honest and proving their authenticity through the adoption of NFTs.

7. Royalties

Non-fungible tokens are granting creators a new perk: the allowance of receiving royalties from secondary sales on any of their original work. Creators are able to implement royalty percentages into their work at their own discretion and continue to gain from their efforts, even after the initial sale.

When Vincent Van Gogh originally crafted his masterpieces, such as the famous “Starry Night”, he didn’t make much money, if any, for his artwork, which would easily go for hundreds of millions of dollars today. I don’t know about you, but to me it doesn’t seem fair that artists can pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work early on in life, only to not benefit from their labor as time goes on, assuming that they already distributed their work and no longer have possession.

This is where NFTs are able to help creators get what they deserve, even if time has passed and the asset has been given to someone else. If the creator sets a royalty percentage however, not only will they be able to earn money from their original work, but the collector is still able to sell the piece for a profit, as well. A true win-win scenario, wouldn’t you say so?

8. Collectability

Personally, collectability is what makes the most sense to me right off the bat. In terms of changing the world, the collectability aspect of NFTs is amazing. I’m positive that NFTs have not only been presented to me from a collector’s perspective from the get-go, but to most of the community.

With NFTs’ ability to turn anything digital, it means we can collect more, flex harder, and display to a wider audience. In my experience, when something has a collectible characteristic, in combination with a following of some sort, it turns the entire transaction process into a more enjoyable experience, because collecting things is fun and there is true value to be had. It’s that simple.

It’s true, there is a lot to think about when it comes to understanding how technology, such as non-fungible tokens, can change the way humans interact and transact with each other. If you’re still confused about what is happening to our world due to the implementation of NFTs and the overall culture shift into a world of transparency, continue reading on.

Note: These are the main points I want to make on how NFTs are changing the world. This is my macro belief and observation, but as time progresses, so will the way we use and interact with these digital assets.

How can NFTs help us?

NFTs do not have the best reputation when it comes to being green or conserving energy and resources, mainly due to the amount of energy it takes for the systems to solve complex, algorithmic equations that some of these blockchains have in place in order to function properly. So with that being said, how is it that non-fungible tokens can help us?

NFTs can help us all by allowing us to transact with trust and transparency between all parties and not having to report to a centralized governing system in order to do so. Moreover, NFTs allow creators to unlock more value by being able to supply their consumers with exactly what they want, when they want it.

In the macro, NFTs make transacting, holding, and viewing assets fun and frictionless, which correlates to more time for us. Time is priceless, so the fact that NFTs can give us more time is equally priceless in my humble opinion.

Why NFTs all of the sudden?

To some, it may seem like NFTs were waved into existence by Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin Developer), himself—making way for this new trend of collecting jpegs and FOMO’ing into the next “best” animal project. Just to be clear, no one waved a wand to my knowledge, and Satoshi did not make the first NFT. So, why are NFTs such a big deal all of the sudden?

The emergence of NFTs into society’s eyes was propelled by the Covid-19 quarantine mandate, which occurred on March 11, 2020. With everyone working from home and spending more time exploring the digital world, NFTs quickly grew into something that many became aware of, especially after the sale of Beeple’s $69M NFT, “The First 5000 Days,” which made national news.

Beeple’s sale is undoubtedly a moment in NFT history which will never be forgotten, but it’s not the only facet that has created all the hype surrounding non-fungible assets. This sale, along with many other big-number sales have helped pave the path for NFTs to thrive and continue to supply value to you and me.

As more businesses and influencers begin to incorporate non-fungible tokens into their every day plan of action, the community of these popular entities will follow.

All of these elements are the reasoning and thought behind my thesis on how NFTs are changing our world. Anytime there is attention put on something, the masses tend to follow, and when the masses follow, everyone considers it to be the new norm without even giving it a second thought. It has been proven with the internet, phones, and of course social media.

Now it’s time for non-fungible tokens to prove their worth to the world. Will you be a part of the movement? Or will you sit-back and let opportunity pass you by? The choice is yours.

Finance NFT

A Career Rescued by NFTs — A Conversation with 12

NFTs are changing lives and it’s inspiring to hear all of the stories that have emerged over the past few months. As many new people are learning about cryptocurrencies and NFTs, it’s important to provide education and practical optimism through these stories. I had the chance to sit down and interview 12, better known as 12yr Old w/ Credit Card on Discord (no, he’s not actually 12 years old). 

Because of the pandemic, 12 found himself down to his last $500. He was spending $5-$6 per day on food and needed a way to improve his financial situation. He originally thought about stock trading, but without a lot of money to start with, he ultimately decided to learn about cryptocurrency. 

This is his story of building a seven-figure portfolio in a matter of months and using what he learned to build infrastructure for NFT projects to develop merchandise and distribute to asset holders.

Choosing Crypto Over Stocks and Spending 2 Months in Deep Learning Mode

12 noticed that crypto people seemed rich, and a stock return of just 7% wouldn’t turn his $500 into life-changing money that would rescue him out of his situation. 

During a two-month period of bad weather and lockdowns from the pandemic, he stayed at home and went to work learning about cryptocurrencies. He read every white paper he could find and dedicated that time entirely to crypto research as if it were his full-time job. 

Note: It may not be obvious from an outside perspective, but there are many people who dedicate full-time hours to cryptocurrency and NFT research. It’s exciting to read about success stories, but keep in mind that much more work went into them than meet’s the eye. 

The majority of this effort was spent in decentralized finance, learning about curve finance, and 12 ultimately turned his initial $500 investment into $100,000 within 5 weeks. 

However, in May, he lost most of that money, going from $100,000 to $10,000. 

Despite the setback, he explained that he got a detailed understanding of the “back-end” of crypto, something that would serve him extremely well as he pivoted into the NFT space. 

Please remember, this is not financial advice. There are many risks that come with cryptocurrency and NFTs. It’s always important to do your own research and never spend money you can’t afford to lose.

Pivoting into NFTs and Building a 7-Figure Portfolio

12 describes NFT as the “front-end” of the cryptocurrency space. Armed with his back-end knowledge of decentralized finance, he started to purchase NFTs in June and July, only after spending serious time in Discord groups learning from others. 

He recalled buying an NFT for 1 ETH and selling it for 7 ETH in the same day but was made fun of for selling too early. He used this as motivation to learn everything he could about NFTs, so he bought a “bunch of food” and didn’t leave his computer for about 2 weeks straight. 

He used that time to get into the details, for example, learning the price of every Art Blocks project. He never had crazy 100x returns, but he was making six figures each week by buying and selling NFTs. 

“When you put in a lot of work, you build intuition. Crypto gives you a lot of opportunities where you can make a lot of money in 5 mins, but you have to be able to just do it.” — 12 

The work and detail he put into NFTs compounded, giving him guided intuition and a strong conviction about certain projects that felt “predictable” to him. 

He also crossed the chasm of becoming emotionally connected to NFT art as some pieces he owned became difficult to sell. This added another element to his understanding of collectibles markets and why some NFT assets hold value. 

In about 180 days, he built a 7-figure portfolio through relentless work and detail. He went from having little money to a decentralized finance trader to an NFT trader and now wants to use all of this experience to become a builder.

Building the Cryptoadz Socks Exchange: A Model for NFT Merchandise Delivery

As of this writing, the CrypToadz by GREMPLIN NFT project is sitting at a 14.5 ETH floor. Just a few weeks ago, the floor was under 25 ETH. The project features a collection of 6,969 toads by an artist who contributed to the very popular Nouns DAO NFT project. The artwork features a collection of Toads, but they pay tribute to other NFT projects like Fidenzas and CryptoPunks with traits seen in those projects. You can read a more in-depth breakdown of the Cryptoadz Project here

12 immediately recognized the potential of this NFT project based on a few factors — it was created by a native NFT artist who reminded him of Keith Haring, it riffed on other well-known NFT projects, and the community was strong and passionate. 

He started connecting with other holders in the CrypoToadz Discord group and an idea started to form. One of the traits featured in the Toad assets are socks. What if he and the group bootstrapped a company that releases fashion linked to NFT tokens for free, starting with socks for CrypToadz holders? The CrypToadz Sockz exchange launched on 9/27 and provided an NFT asset to all token holders of the CrypToadz NFT project. Holders of the token could choose to redeem/burn the asset for a free pair of socks or sell it on the secondary market.

Sockz / OpenSea

The current floor price for a Sockz asset is .13 ETH (~$390) and each sale pays a royalty back to the creators in order to self-sustain the free merchandise model. 

As NFTs grow in popularity, there’s so much innovation that we have yet to see. 12 has taken his deep experience and built another layer of value in a merchandise company that can help NFT projects with design, creation, and distribution to holders of their assets. 

Entire economies can be built off of NFT projects and this is just 12’s first step in the process. He told me wants to “build 100 projects” and he has the experience, understanding and capital to do so.

Key Takeaways

12’s experience in cryptocurrency and NFTs were rocketship growth, but it didn’t come without sacrifice, commitment, and risk-taking. It was a bold move to take his remaining $500, bet on himself (and the market), and come out on the other side with phenomenal returns and success. 

What’s critical about his story is that the knowledge and intuition he developed across decentralized finance compounded into NFTs, and that NFT expertise compounded into his ability to think through and lead the development of a bootstrapped merchandise company. We hear all the time that we are early in the NFT space. We will see much more innovation on top of the existing infrastructure. 12 is one of the people leading that innovation and he’s done it by being deep in the space. Everyone who wants to get involved with cryptocurrencies or the NFT space has to learn to think for themselves (and choose their own level of risk), but you can develop expertise in a short period of time if you remain committed to learning, interacting, and participating in the market.


Cosmos, A Collection by Jen Stark Merging NFTs and Art

Whirling and vibrant artworks fill the screen—a collection of shapes bouncing off the bounds of their frames and flashing in a hypnotic trance. The imagery undulates and vibrates as the viewer takes in the array of artwork in the collection. If these images seem familiar to you that is because they are. In the spring of 2021, Jen Stark made her debut by setting records with the sale of her kaleidoscopic animation, Multiverse. The piece was collected by 3FMusic for 150ETH ($343,000 USD), which made Stark the first female artist to enter Foundation’s top 10 selling creators.

With the recent launch of her newest NFT collection on Foundation, Stark brings a new set of mesmerizing patterns to the platform. Kicking off the new collection called Cosmos, Stark dropped 12 new artworks on Wednesday, September 29th. Selling out within 24 hours, the collection is off to an exciting start. Over the next several weeks Stark will be unveiling eleven ‘micro cosmos’ and one ‘macro cosmo,’ for a total of 60 artworks in the collection. By bringing this vibrant set of artwork to Foundation, Stark also shows off the new collection feature that the platform will soon roll out to all creators. Stark has made her mark on the contemporary art scene with works in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and MOCA Miami, as well as group and solo exhibitions across New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Thailand, and Canada. 

I had the pleasure of speaking with Stark about her recent move into NFTs and how she feels that it is allowing the artist to take the power back.

Jen Stark / Foundation

What inspired you to begin making NFTs?

“I was born in Miami and went through art school, and then I went to an art college in Baltimore, found myself back in Miami, and started my art career. I moved out to LA about nine years ago. And I was able to meet like-minded artists and creative people to start a community here. 

My art is mainly inspired by nature,  color theory, math, Fibonacci sequences, fractals, psychedelic mathematical designs in nature and science. 

I heard about NFTs in February and it seemed mind-blowing to me how the artist had so much autonomy and power with their work. In the traditional art world, you sell your artwork to a collector and that’s it, you don’t see any other profits usually. I thought it was cool for the artist to take the power back, and always be connected to the work. You get royalties if it sells which you don’t in the art world usually. The community around it intrigued me as well, and it’s been really cool. I have met so many new people on Twitter, and mostly virtually through the NFT world.”

How has joining the NFT community/creating NFT art changed the way you view community/art/creativity?

“The thing I love about this community is that it is very open and there is a lot of helping each other. The NFT world is very open and welcoming and I loved that above it. And it’s kind of a bunch of technology rebels that are trying to pave a new path, and can be a new avenue of art history. I think the art world looks down on it a bit, but they are opening their eyes a little. But I think they have to look at it because it’s happening and they can’t control it, and I think it is already this fork in art history.”

Since launching on Foundation’s marketplace, what has your experience been like and how is it different from traditional gallery spaces?

“I chose Foundation initially because I loved the look of their site, it is super clean and it is super easy to navigate and beautiful to look at. A lot of other platforms are still missing the user experience, and Foundation had that from the start. I dropped on SuperRare a few months ago and that was really fun. But Foundation’s support really helped me and guided me through the process.”

Has working with NFTs opened up new possibilities in your creative process?

“It’s definitely a natural progression, I am a hands-on building stuff kind of girl—painting, and sculpture. In college I started to learn a little bit of animation, starting with stop motion, cutting paper, sculptures, and creating animations with that. I dived a bit into the animation world and then I started teaming up with a few collaborators years ago. 

Personally, I am more of a painter sculptor—I have an animation brain but I usually team up with people to help me execute my vision.”

Do you feel that there is a separation between the NFT art you make and your other artwork?

“The cool thing about the NFT world is that the collectors are visible, and you can directly connect with people so much easier. Also, the NFT element of art is interesting, and I am trying to think of it as more of a utility. Like how can this NFT benefit the collectors, and trying to think about the future of that. It has become a lot more thought out as far as creating private discord channels for my NFT collectors which have been really fun. 

I see the whole NFT metaverse as another material an artist can use. A material that opens a whole new universe for the artist to express themselves and create a whole new community around their work. I want to dive into all the crazy web3 experiences. Everything about it is so open, and there are so many possibilities it is a little bit overwhelming.”

Are there any artists working in the NFT space that inspire you?

Some of the artists that inspire me are @ix_shells, @Mad_Dog_Jones, @kyttenjanae, @badmocap, @newrafael, @rich_lord.

Has there been friction with traditional artists joining the NFT space?

“Yeah, I’ve seen a little friction with it, and there was this moment at the beginning of the year where everyone was learning everything together. Me and most of my artist friends all dove in and we all learned it and became obsessed with it. The artists that did not do that are a bit behind, and it is harder for them to jump in and learn about it. I think it is always possible and if they are willing to jump into it I think it’s a really fun world to be a part of. 

I think a lot of people don’t understand what NFTs are, and once they do understand that they have ownership of their work, autonomy, and direct royalties I think they will jump on board.”

Finance NFT

Choosing The Right NFT Project For You

When I first began my journey into the realm of non-fungible tokens—better known as digital assets—I had no idea where to start or how to figure out which of the projects would be the right choice for me. After being in the space for close to a year and collecting numerous NFTs, I believe I have discovered a good way to choose the right project for you and your long-term investment goals.

When choosing the best NFT to buy for yourself and hold long term, it is crucial that you follow these three simple rules:

1. Always invest in NFTs that you like

First and foremost, you should always invest in NFTs that spark your interest. I mean, what’s the point of purchasing something that you don’t actually enjoy? Don’t just look for the “next best” NFT, search for the next best NFT that suits your interests.

Not everyone has the same interests, and not everyone will be able to make the same knowledgeable choice about any one NFT project because we all have different levels of understanding of the category we are choosing to invest in.

For example, if you really enjoy soccer and you know a lot about the players and the teams, it’s safe to say that a soccer NFT project would be a good category to start doing your research on. Or, if you really appreciate modern art, then you should be digging deeper into modern artists and their NFTs.

This first step is the foundation of your decision for choosing the best NFT project for you and your investment portfolio.

2. Do your own research

Who doesn’t love a little research? After you have found an NFT you are interested in, it’s time to get your hands dirty and learn everything you can about that specific NFT. Researching NFTs isn’t as easy as going to the “reviews” section and reading everything that other consumers have posted, but it’s close.

When you sit down to research any NFT, here is what I recommend you try to find as much information on as possible:

  • The creator(s)
  • The community
  • The project (brand)
The creator(s)

I think it’s important to understand that when you invest in a non-fungible token, you are actually investing in the human behind the project. Similarly to when you are betting on your favorite sport’s team, you are betting on the player’s ability to execute, not just a random team of people.

There are a few things that I personally look for when examining the creator behind a project; their past performance and ability to execute, their social status, and their ability to build brand awareness.

If you find a project where the creator has a good track record, a positive social status, and a team that seems to understand how to build a brand, then you are likely on the right path to finding the best long-term NFT for your collection.

The community

Don’t forget about the community! A good NFT project will have a healthy community following them. Signs of a healthy community include an overall positive vibe, helpful people, and a whole lot of communication from the project manager. This communication should include project updates, alerts, and assistance with any problems that community members may face.

Okay, so now you’re probably wondering where you are able to find out more about a project’s community; the answer is simple: everywhere. Allow me to elaborate.

Wherever an NFT project has a presence, you should be there observing, listening, and asking any questions you may have about the project. Some common places where you are able to observe a project’s community is on various social media platforms, Discord, and other media outlets such as blog posts and videos.

Spending a majority of your day simply observing a community is not a waste of your time at all. In fact, I would argue that it is an excellent use of your time that can help you decide if an NFT is right for you or not.

The project (brand)

Finally, the main piece of the puzzle: the project itself. The project—or as I like to think of it, the brand—is arguably one of the most important pieces to the NFT puzzle. The brand is what draws people in and keeps the demand for their assets high.

Branding is generally what draws you into a project, and it is what will continue to command your attention as more and more projects enter the space. When you do your research on a brand, make sure you like the brand and support what they stand for. Also, you should ensure that you thoroughly enjoy the products and services that the brand offers to its consumers, such as yourself. Once you have determined these three important aspects of research check-out, you are one step closer to discovering the best NFT for you and your long-term investment goals. Remember, ALWAYS do your own research.

3. Don’t invest more money than you can afford to lose

The final piece to uncovering the best NFT for your personal situation and interests should not only be considered a rule but an absolute must! Do not invest more money than you can afford to lose. In my opinion, there should be no exception to this rule.

If you invest all your savings into a project with no money to fall back on, you may be putting yourself and your family in a hard spot. Especially if you were to lose all your hard-earned money on an NFT project that ultimately ended up having less value than you had originally thought.

Personally, I try to buy into every project with the thought that the project could go to zero. I know, nobody wants to think that the project they are investing in could go to zero, but that is just the reality of the market.

In my experience, if you follow these three rules, then you will be on the right path to finding the best NFT project for you. The greatest part about following these rules is that you will feel confident and happy with your investments, and you’ll know that you have made the best choice for yourself.

Will NFTs hold their value when investing long term?

When thinking about investing in non-fungible tokens to add to your long-term investment portfolio, you may be contemplating the longevity of NFTs in the macro—rightfully so. This brings us to one of the most commonly asked questions regarding these tokens: are NFTs here to stay for the long term?

NFTs are digital assets that are minted on the blockchain, where they remain indefinitely. These digital assets are exploding in growth and utility across various industries. Social media platforms, influencers, and even big-name brands such as Budweiser, are all beginning to incorporate NFTs into their business.

In my opinion, the fact that these reputable brands are utilizing non-fungible tokens to their advantage is a huge sign pointing towards the continuance of use across all the different industries. Moreover, I believe that the market has already proven that NFTs will remain valuable for the long haul.

The number of people who are aware of NFTs and their potential value is still very minimal. I bet if you were to ask anyone within your inner circle about NFTs, they would look at you like you are crazy. That’s not to take away from the fact that NFTs are here to stay.

My point being: even though many folks are unfamiliar with this technology as of right now, the market is still booming with sales. Not to mention, many of these sales are from unknown individuals who don’t have a reputable brand backing their work, so imagine what will happen when these large companies who have unlimited resources begin integrating non-fungible tokens into their businesses.

In time, it is very likely that more and more people will look to invest in digital assets. As NFTs begin to prove their worth in the business world, the demand to collect these assets will also increase as a result.

In conclusion, finding the right NFT for you and your long-term investment portfolio is important. Remember, before choosing which NFT is best for you, make sure to follow the three simple rules: find what you like, do your research, and never spend more money than you can afford to lose.

Finance NFT

From Part-Time Construction Worker to Full-Time in NFTs


The NFT market is growing at a rapid pace. Even a small amount of time spent on Twitter gives the impression that a lot of people are making life-changing money with NFTs seemingly overnight.

However, if you dig deeper into some of these success stories, you’ll often learn that a lot has happened beneath the surface for those people to get where they are. It’s critical that we share these stories to help people adjust their mindset and get inspired to put in the work instead of rapidly spending money in hopes that something will stick.

In this article, I detail the story of Ezrawithacamera, a 24-year-old videographer originally from the small town of Webberville, Michigan. Ezra was able to build up a portfolio of NFT assets that have given him a large enough safety net to leave his rewarding videography career at Thrive Realty Co—a cutting-edge real estate brokerage—to pursue NFTs full-time.

For those feeling left out of the NFT rush, or ones wondering what to do next to level up their NFT journey, Ezra’s journey highlights the fact that many of the “overnight success” stories were actually years in the making.

Communicating Your Passions Can Be Enough to Put You on The Right Track

“You’re one person away from changing your entire life trajectory.”

 —  Ezra

After dropping out of college while studying computer programming, Ezra started working in construction to make money while figuring out his next move. He had always loved computers and knew that technology would be a big part of his life, but he wasn’t yet sure how that would play out.

He explained that he would often share his passion for computers with his co-workers, which would later prove to be the catalyst for his ensuing career in crypto and NFTs.

One of his co-workers first introduced him to Bitcoin, but quit to start his own company before Ezra could learn more. About 6 months later, by pure coincidence, Ezra ran into his former co-worker at a gas station while filling up ice for his crew. That co-worker had started his own Bitcoin mining operation, which motivated Ezra to research more about cryptocurrencies.

As he started the process of self-education, Ezra decided to follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice and attend a meet-up group about Bitcoin. It was about an hour away, and even though he almost didn’t go because he was tired from a day’s work at the construction site, it was yet another pivotal moment in his journey.

When he arrived at the meeting, he began showing some of the members a mining computer he built on a bamboo shoe rack:


After showing it to a few people, someone introduced him to Jake Herbert, a former Olympic wrestler. Herbert was looking for partners to mine Bitcoin and after learning that Ezra had built a computer, the two decided to work together.

While they didn’t make much money with the operation, Ezra learned a lot and developed a strong conviction for Bitcoin and the concept of cryptocurrency. It took getting into the weeds to help him fully understand it, but now he was ready to do what it took to purchase the asset.

Taking $8,000 in Salary to Buy Bitcoin

The reality is that any investment comes with risk, which is why it is important to never spend money you can’t afford to lose. If you have conviction in a project, an asset, or other investment, it sometimes requires sacrifices to get them.

After leaving the mining operation, Ezra landed at a real estate company as a videographer and storyteller, but he couldn’t get Bitcoin out of his head and made a very real commitment to helping grow his portfolio:

Ezra approached the owners of the real estate company and asked to take just $8,000 of his salary, with the rest invested in Bitcoin.

To do this, Ezra had to live on just $133 per week. You read that right, $133 per week.

He had developed enough belief in Bitcoin to make a move that most other people wouldn’t be willing to do. He explained that he lived with a co-worker and her boyfriend who were generous in the rent they charged him because they knew about his passion and the rest of his expenses fell into place.

It may be easy to look in from the outside and call this luck, but the reality is that it was a bet placed with conviction, using money that came from cutting expenses to the bare minimum. Please keep in mind that this is not financial advice, it’s merely an illustrative example of the lengths Ezra went to make sure he could invest in an asset that he had a deep understanding of.

How Ezra First Discovered NFTs

Ezra first discovered NFTs on May 8th of 2020, when he applied to be a SuperRare artist, as he needed money after foregoing most of his salary. He had been doing art and was looking for a way to monetize his work, which helped him begin to understand NFTs. While he was ultimately rejected by SuperRare, he sensed the NFTs could become a big market but didn’t rediscover them until the following year with NBA Top Shot. At that point, Ezra had 1.8 Bitcoin available from his earlier savings and investment. He decided to put half of that money into VeeFriends during its launch and was even able to convince his bosses to buy a VeeFriend.

This photo of Ezra was captured while he purchased a Very, Very, Very, Very Luck Black Cat VeeFrind and Patient Panda VeeFriend at the same time. 

When he told his mom she would be going to VeeCon, she suggested he buy more VeeFriends so his siblings could also attend. It turned out to be one of the greatest pieces of advice from a mother to a son. Ezra was also able to buy into Cool Cats during this time.

On July 4th, while he was alone dog sitting, he finally had time to go deep on NFT research and came across Curio Cards, the first art NFT on Ethereum. He understood the landscape and was able to buy/sell NFT assets with his experience from Cool Cats and VeeFriends.

At the time, Curio Cards were significantly cheaper and have since produced significant returns for Ezra to provide him with a safety net as he thought about his next move. It even enabled him to put money towards the down payment of a home.

Although he didn’t envision investing in NFTs when he started mining and investing in Bitcoin in 2018, his sacrifices paid off by putting him in a position to afford these assets at likely one of the best times in the market.

What does being full-time in the NFT space look like?

Ezra plans to continue taking risks with conviction. He spoke highly of his team at the real estate company, even going so far as to call them a family. Leaving that position was hard, but he knew he had to do it just 4 days prior to our interview.

He explained that he knew for a long-time he wanted to go full-time in the NFT space, but after organizing a Michigan meet-up for VeeFriends holders, it clicked that he had a large enough safety net to take the leap.

While he isn’t stepping into a new job that pays him a salary, he’s trusting that fully following his passion will lead to a good outcome. He explained that he will do six things every single day to help him find his way to a tangible role in the NFT space:

(1) Make connections in the NFT space every day — he’s taking a page out of his real estate company’s book by trying to make 20 connections per day.

(2) Study Innovation and Market Movements — there are a lot of new NFT project launches, which cause both market saturation and an opportunity to learn. Ezra now has the time to study the market, what’s working, and what isn’t to further develop his intuition.

(3) Create Educational Content for Beginners — there were just over 412,000 buyers across the top 4 Ethereum NFT peer-to-peer marketplaces in August (with over $3 billion in sales volume). There are many people who haven’t gotten involved in the space and need to overcome the technical hurdles to do so. Ezra has a track record of demonstrated success so far and plans to help others with his knowledge.

(4) Create Content for His Personal Brand — personal brand matters no matter what field you are in, but given how NFT success forms around the community, this is a critical component of Ezra’s full-time NFT life. As more people enter the space, they will look for reputable advisers and educators who have strong personal brands and reputations.

(5) DAO NFT Sales — Ezra is part of a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) with other Very Very Very Very Black Cat VeeFriend holders. A DAO is effectively a decentralized investment group. People pool together money and vote on the best ways to spend it. This offers more buying power for savvy investors to place smart bets and split the returns with those who participated.

(6) Create Art — he’s already done 533 days straight of daily art creations (which has since halted due to his new commitments), but this effort will help him think like an artist. It’s likely he will try and create an NFT project, but for now, he’s in learn mode to understand what the market might respond to.

He concluded by saying that he “has something to share and contribute to this space” and that the last time he “fully followed” his passion, it turned out well for him.

Key Takeaways

Ezra’s journey was years in the making and required significant sacrifice to get where he is today. It started with him recognizing his passion and following up on it through action, by attending a meet-up, joining a Bitcoin mining operation, and ultimately giving up a significant portion of his salary.

He did all of this without knowing what the other side would look like, which is the hardest part. NFTs are a lot of fun but require a serious conviction to get involved because the market changes rapidly.

His story should be a reminder to those of you who want success in any field that it takes time to develop. There are certainly people who have made significant gains due to the rapid rise of NFT values, but many who have benefitted from that have stories that go beyond holding an asset for a few weeks.

As Ezra mentioned, he is looking to connect with as many people as he possibly can in the NFT space. He’d love for you to set up a time with him to chat or help make connections to others on a similar path. If that interests you or someone you know, you can reach out to him via Direct Message on Twitter. Or, if you simply want to follow Ezra’s journey leaving a job he loves to pursue a deep passion, you can give him a follow on Twitter.


Christie’s Post-War to Present Auction: Blurring the NFT and Art Worlds

As part of the October 1st, Post War to Present sale at Christie’s, an all-new lineup of art and currency for bidding will be implemented as the auction commences. 

The auction house boasts some of the highest-quality artwork spanning the last several decades, representing some of the most contemporary concepts and visual creations throughout the art world; this auction is accompanied by an all-new art form that is breaking its way into the upper-echelon of fine art: The NFT.

Art Blocks, My Curio Cards, and VeeFriends creator Gary Vaynerchuck will be amongst some of the most well-known names in the art world including Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, George Condo, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Wayne Thiebaud, and Yoshitomo Nara.

NFTs debuting at auction houses is becoming increasingly common ever since the massive milestone of the Beeple’s “Everydays — The First 5000 Days” selling for record-breaking $69.3 million. The October 1st auction will be another milestone for the Art Blocks and My Curio Cards NFT collections since they will be the first-ever auctions to be conducted in ETH. 

Between My Curio Cards being launching in May 2017 and becoming the first Art NFT project on Ethereum, Art Blocks creating a die-hard community and curating some of the best generative art ever seen, and Gary Vaynerchuk innovating the way we embrace community, imagination, and the union of the two — there is no doubting their placement next to some of history’s most influential artists. 

My Curio Cards – The Full Set

My Curio Cards represent the innovative minds who saw a vision where the metaverse plays a role in our everyday lives. Featuring 30 unique series of cards from seven different artists, the complete set that is on sale represents the visionary artwork that captures a moment in history that had the foresight of the current internet revolution being sparked by web3 and NFTs. The cards are numbered 1-30 and each has its own edition size. There are 30,000 in total, with an estimated 4,000 lost. Looking at the art on each card throughout the collection, there is a comfortable feeling to the variety of styles on display — calling back to the aesthetics of internet art and the wide variety of experimentation that can be found across digital art galleries and forums.

Art Blocks Curated – Full set of Gen 1, 2 and 3

Generative art is nothing new in the art world. It emerged in the 1960s right after Cubism, Dadaism, and surrealism. However, the new wave of on-chain generative art that has emerged on the Art Blocks platform may be the most refined form that the art world has ever seen. The crazy part is that this is just the dawn of a new era.

Founded in 2020 by SnowFro, who is also the creator of the first Art Blocks Chromie Squiggles, the platform quickly rose to the top of the most desired NFTs to collect. Since the inception of Art Blocks, a range of talented artists have joined the Art Blocks Curated roster including the iconic Fidenzas creator Tyler Hobbs. The factor that make the new wave of generative art on-chain so compelling is that nobody knows what will be generated when the script is run—the code performs its range of outputs and generates something completely unique. The level of quality of each project is dictated by the programmer who runs thousands of tests to create the perfect rules for each unique output. For something so random, there is a lot of restrictions the artist must deploy in order to generate a visually consistent, yet diverse body of work. 

The Christie’s Art Blocks lot includes a full set of Gen 1, 2, and 3, which currently has a total estimated floor price of about 600 ETH.

Gary Vaynerchuk – VeeFriends

Whether it is Marchel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ from 1917, or more recently ‘Comedian’ which was the Banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for $120,000 in Miami by artist Maurizio Cattelan, there will always be moments in art history where people question the integrity of the art. Artworks like ‘Fountain’ or ‘Comedian’ are important for broadening the expanse of what art can be, and this is why it is so exciting to see the VeeFriends artist and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk debut his coffee table style drawings amongst some of the most celebrated artists of the past century. The artwork that Gary Vaynerchuk is auctioning for sale is not the actual NFTs that are part of the VeeFriends collection, but instead the original one-of-one drawings that have the same aesthetic and energy as the artwork portrayed throughout the NFT collection. VeeFriends have gained their recognition through the community that has upheld the vision that the art represents. Similar to the success of My Curio Cards and Art Blocks, VeeFriends—like many other NFT projects—are creating a new form of expression through the community that embodies the creator’s vision. Each artwork represents a bastion of individual personalities who support each other, along with the vision that Gary Vaynerchuk spreads as an influencer of culture, relevance, and the internet. To discount the artwork that Gary Vaynerchuk has put up for auction as being out of its element when placed alongside some of the greatest artists of the last century is to discount the importance that art has in influencing culture and capturing the world around it.

NFT Tech

Know the Difference: On-Chain and Off-Chain NFTs

The drop of the new project ‘OnChain Monkey’ started a necessary conversation across the NFT community: what exactly does it mean when NFTs are referred to as being ‘on-chain’ or ‘off-chain’? The distinction between the two is just as confusing as it is essential to understand. 

There is a common perception that the blockchain technology that underpins NFTs leaves the digital assets impervious to corruption and is permanent. This is true in terms of the smart contract, however, there is a potential vulnerability that exists in the way that digital artwork (content and metadata) may be stored for some projects. If the metadata for the digital art is stored off-chain, there is a potential that you could be stuck down the road with the smart contract that points to a broken link. Knowing the on and off-chain components of your NFT will make you a more informed collector and enhance your understanding of project quality. 

The Problem with Off-Chain Data

Take the most recent proliferation of PFP NFT projects; they follow the same recipe: 10K+ assets, an adjective used to describe an animal, some rare traits, followed by a location (club, society, spaceship, stable, etc.), with promises of community and companion airdrops. The team behind the project starts a Twitter and Discord account, appoints a community manager, and starts whitelisting early participants for a shot to mint early.

At a high level, the NFTs in these projects exist in two parts—the smart contract and the metadata for the actual artwork. The smart contract exists on a blockchain, typically Ethereum, (although that is changing rapidly), and contains a set of rules or standards that facilitates the transaction and serves as a digital description of the content. The smart contract includes a link that points to the server that stores the digital artwork.

On the other hand, the digital artwork may not live on a blockchain and may be stored “off-chain” or simply, not on a blockchain. Off-chain storage includes centralized servers within the company or an InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). The issue with centralized storage is that if the server goes down (or the company dissolves) the image would be lost. IPFS is a more secure method of finding data as it utilizes a distributed, decentralized system. While still off-chain, if a storage location (node) goes down in one spot it may be found in another location. 

Due to the immutable quality of the smart contracts, rewrites to redirect to the image are not possible should there be a disruption to the off-chain method of storage. In this scenario, a collector would be left with a smart contract that contains a link to unavailable content. It’s fair to assume that this outcome is definitely not in sync with the expectations of the current collector.

How do I see if an NFT is Off-Chain?

Follow the steps below to see how your digital assets are stored. You can also try to Check My NFT if you know your contract address and token ID.

MetaMask Wallet: Open your MetaMask wallet and click on ‘NFTs.’ Select the NFT you’d like to review and click the link that appears directly across from ‘Asset Contract.’ This will bring you to Etherscan

OpenSea: Once you have pulled up the webpage of the NFT you would like to review, scroll down to ‘Details’ in the left-hand column and click the link across from ‘Contract Address.’ This will bring you to Etherscan

Once you are in Etherscan, click the ‘Contract’ tab located below the ‘Contract Overview’ box. After clicking on ‘Contract,’ select ‘Read Contract’ and scroll down to ‘tokenURI.’ This dropdown box allows you to enter the ID number of your token, which can be located in the name of the NFT, for instance, Cool Cat #7000, or on the OpenSea webpage in the ‘Details’ box below the contract link. Once the Token ID number is entered, click ‘Query.’ 

If a link appears, the artwork is most likely stored off-chain. The link may start with “ipfs://” or “https://api.”, include the project name, and end with a token number.

Potential Solutions

Hundreds of projects dropped over the summer and hundreds more are in the queue to be released this fall. As fast as these NFTs are dropping, it’s hard to believe that the creative teams are concerned with the long-term permanence of these assets. Conversations seem to revolve around floor prices and future airdrops, with several blatant rug pulls already occurring. 

Luckily, companies are already working on the issue of data permanence: InfiNFT is a user-friendly platform that allows creators to store metadata on-chain utilizing IPFS and Arweave. Arweave is a company that developed a blockchain derivative that is working toward a ‘permaweb.’ These solutions aren’t the only ones up and running and they are followed by more in the pipeline. 

Taking into consideration the pace at which the very concept of NFTs is evolving (artwork has transformed into content with utility), there is no doubt that giant leaps in digital permanence are just around the corner. As the technology continues to evolve, researching a project’s roadmap, artists, and dev teams will give you insight into the intentions and capabilities of the team.

Finance NFT

The Best Place to Buy Crypto

Cryptocurrency is starting to hit mainstream headlines more frequently. Investing platforms, institutions and the government are all starting to consider what value should be attributed to cryptocurrency. Many investors are debating whether or not to allocate a portion of their investment portfolio to cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency is one of the riskier asset classes to consider investing in, and there still is no clear picture as to which cryptocurrency is the right investment. As reported by Gemini in their 2021 The State of U.S. Crypto report, the average age of those invested in crypto is 38 years old. As of 2021, the average number of people invested in cryptocurrency is only 14% of the sample that was polled. However, in the rest of the group, 63% reported that they are curious about investing in cryptocurrency. Since the early days of Crypto, Bitcoin (BTC) has been the most popular conversation starter. In Gemini’s report, 95% of the overall group polled were familiar with Bitcoin, but only 23% knew about Ethereum (ETH). As for the rest of the top cryptocurrencies, even less was known by the majority of those who were part of Gemini’s research. A key takeaway from the report is that those who are crypto-curious prioritized understanding the space.

It is widely known that investing in crypto comes as a high-risk, high-reward investment. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are volatile investments and are known to lose 80-95% of their value in less than a year.

What is a Crypto Exchange?

A cryptocurrency exchange is an application, platform, or business that allows customers to buy, trade, and sell cryptocurrency or digital currencies for various assets. In the past year, we have seen the rise of NFTs—which are most commonly purchased through the use of cryptocurrency. These exchanges allow users to convert fiat currency (money that is established as currency by a government regulation, i.e. the U.S. Dollar) for digital currencies. 

Buying crypto through a crypto exchange usually requires the user to register an account and provide debit, credit, or bank account information in order to acquire digital currency. Some of these exchanges require different forms of identification, along with processing fees, and several days to verify the account information you provide. Even for those who do not seek to invest in crypto immediately, it is good practice to have a crypto exchange account so that when you want to invest there are no 3-5 business day processing delays. 

What features are important to look at when deciding on an exchange?

When considering which crypto exchange to invest with, there are several factors to consider. One of these factors is what commission each exchange will take on the buying, selling, trading, and transferring of assets. Some exchanges charge a flat rate while others take a percentage of each transaction.

Another important factor to consider when selecting a crypto exchange is to look at whether or not the platform is centralized or decentralized. A decentralized platform allows the decision-making to be done by teams within the community, and the power is distributed among the individuals who participate in using the platform. Meanwhile, centralized exchanges make decisions based on the senior board or selected leaders of the company. Decentralization is an important component of the crypto world due to the fact that cryptocurrencies are built on the blockchain where information is shared and stored on a public ledger. This allows the individual to have control over their own digital assets and currency—when an exchange is centralized it limits the freedom the user has over their own money.

What’s the difference between a crypto exchange and a crypto wallet?

Many crypto exchanges offer the user the ability to buy, trade, and sell cryptocurrencies, but they do not allow the user to have entire control of where they send their digital assets. Meanwhile, some crypto exchanges provide the user with a crypto wallet which enables the customer of the exchange to send their digital currency to other crypto wallets that are not exclusive to the exchange’s application. One of the most common examples is Coinbase’s wallet, which allows the user to transfer their purchased crypto to another wallet like Metamask.

For those curious about investing in crypto, here are some of the most popular exchanges to buy, trade, and sell cryptocurrencies.

1. Coinbase

One of the most popular exchanges for buying and selling cryptocurrency is Coinbase. Founded in 2012, the platform set out with the goal of providing ease of access to their users to securely send and receive Bitcoin. Since then, the company has grown to be one of the most widely used exchanges and offers a variety of currencies that span the broader crypto-economy. Recently, the company had its initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ in Spring 2021. With over 68 million users across over 100 countries, the platform trades more than $462 Billion USD each quarter. 

Coinbase offers one of the easiest to use platforms and offers many crypto options. Along with their platform, Coinbase provides a custodial wallet that allows users to transfer their digital assets to other custodial and non-custodial accounts. This makes Coinbase one of the preferred platforms to acquire crypto assets, which can then be sent to purchase NFTs. 

Although Coinbase is accessible, it is not decentralized, unlike other options like Bisq, meaning they do not allow users to control complete custody of their crypto. This puts users at risk of a hack or unexpected freezing of assets. 

Trading Fee: The fee charged is between $0.99 and $2.99 depending on the dollar value.

2. Gemini

Founded in 2014 by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini offers more than 30 cryptocurrencies on their platform and has an easy-to-use interface that is popular for crypto trading. The company prides itself on the trust it is building with its customers and asking permission before forgiveness. The application can be used in all 50 of the United States and also boasts the ability for peer-to-peer and crypto-to-crypto trading. Their application allows you to send any of their approved digital assets to another crypto wallet via their own custodial service. Like Coinbase, Gemini is also a centralized application that limits the control you have over your assets, but provides the flexibility to acquire cryptocurrencies and then move them to a decentralized or non-custodial application. 

Trading Fee: The fee charged is between $0.99 for smaller transactions and up to 1.49% for anything larger than $200.

3. Binance

Binance was founded in 2017 and currently supports more than 100 cryptocurrencies. Some of their most popular currencies are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and its own BNB coin. Users in over 180 countries can trade on Binance, but only 43 states can use Binance.US, excluding Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Texas, Vermont, Idaho, and Louisiana. The exchange is reported to be currently supporting more than 100 million users this year. Binance provides a variety of charting and indicators for those who are interested in trading cryptocurrencies. Similar to Coinbase and Gemini, the platform is not decentralized.

Trading Fee: 0.02% to 0.10% purchase and trading fees, 3% to 4.5% for debit card purchases, or $15 per U.S. wire transfer.

4. Bisq

Founded in 2014, Bisq is a peer-to-peer trading network that differentiates itself from other websites and apps that are centralized services. Bisq enables users to run their software on their own hardware, which allows the user to control their own assets. This network also allows users to be connected to others who are running the Bisq software to facilitate trades. The Bisq network is open-source and community-driven. 

Users may download the software on desktop and mobile devices. The user does not need to provide identification in order to use the software, unlike other platforms that follow Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. The software is decentralized and has payment support for over 26 different options. On the downside, users will experience slow speeds on some of the payment methods and the transactional volume is low. 

Trading fee: Makers pay 0.10% and takers pay 0.70%.

5. Kraken

Created in 2011, Kraken is available in 47 US States and 176 countries. Their crypto exchange supports 40 different cryptocurrencies. As one of the largest crypto exchanges alongside Coinbase, Gemini, and Binance, the daily market activity allows for liquidity. In addition, the platform is notably safe to trade on as it has never experienced a hack. Users can use MasterCard, Wire Transfer, and Bank cards to acquire digital currencies. Kraken has a mobile app, and provides analytical tools which are helpful for traders. There is a daily maximum trading amount of $100,000.

Trading Fee: The fees vary from 0.16% to 0.10% for 30-day transactional volumes of between $0 and $500,000.

6. eToro

In 2007, eToro was founded as a trading platform for those looking to copy trade from the experts they follow. The platform allows users to trade stock, securities, forex, CFD, and crypto-assets. This allows beginners to trade with less experience in the assets they want to trade by copying a trade that is being done by a professional trader. 

The exchange supports 94 cryptocurrency trading pairs, and the eToro mobile wallet app is a custodian wallet that uses a multi-sig scheme for crypto users. The exchange provides a range of charting and technical indicators for trading. For those looking to get into cryptocurrencies but also stick to conventional trading, eToro provides a wider range of options. 

Trading fee: 0.75% for trading crypto. For fiat to crypto, the conversion fee is 5%. eToro charges 0.1% for crypto-to-crypto exchanging or conversion.

7. Robinhood

Founded in 2013, Robinhood began as a platform for the day-to-day retail trader and investor. Their commission-free model for trading allowed retail investors who could not afford the fees that other brokerages charged to start their trading and investing journeys without a barrier to entry. Robinhood has always put the smaller investor first and has offered many opportunities that benefit investors that are new to the stock market. Robinhood began letting users dabble in crypto investing by buying Bitcoin within their platform. This allowed users to get exposure to cryptocurrency but did not enable the users to do anything with their crypto except buying and selling it within their centralized app. 

In September, Robinhood announced that they would officially be entering the crypto market as a competitor with their fully integrated wallet application that will allow users to transfer cryptocurrencies in and out of their exchange—similar to Gemini and Coinbase. The wallet update for Robinhood currency has a waitlist sign-up, but once it is launched Robinhood will be making a big step by allowing investors to have a little more control over their cryptocurrency. 
Read more about Robinhood’s wallet announcement here.

8. Cash App

Square launched Cash App services in 2013, which is meant to compete with peer-to-peer payment services like Paypal’s Venmo and Google Pay. Like many other peer-to-peer payment apps, Cash App allows users to transfer money using their smartphones. Since their launch, they have expanded beyond peer-to-peer payments. Users are now able to receive direct deposit payments, ACH payments, invest in stocks commission-free, and buy cryptocurrencies. 

At the time of this article, Cash App’s crypto exchange allows users to buy and sell crypto within the app, and currently only supports Bitcoin. The max transactional limit for BTC users is $100,000. 

Cash App is easy to use for beginners looking to get exposed to purchasing crypto but until further updates by the app, there are a fair amount of limits to what users can achieve. 

Trading fee: Free for sending and receiving via banks, 3% fee charged on credit card payments, and 1.5% for bank instant deposits.