Non Fungible Tokens (or NFTs) have risen quickly to become one of the most sensational products of blockchain technology. Particularly, the NFT market grew from barely a million dollar capitalization in 2020 to over $41 billion in 2021, thereby sparking a lot of interest in the space.
NFTs and NFT-backed projects are in high demand these days, providing a lucrative niche for developers. However, getting into NFT development has its difficulties, one of which is deciding on the best blockchain network to build.
We’ve compiled a list of networks that are particularly useful for NFT development in this post. But, before we get started, there are a few considerations to keep in mind while choosing a blockchain network for NFT development.
Factors to Consider before Choosing a Blockchain
Have you ever gone shopping for shortbread in a supermarket and spent several minutes trying to decide between various types with attractive branding? If you are like most people, you will end up choosing several different brands just to have a taste of everything on the cookie shelf.
Interestingly, this is the exact situation that most NFT developers or creators face while deciding on the best blockchain for their project. In fact, there is no way you can escape this if it is your first time, as you tend to get overwhelmingly confused by the unique offerings and benefits across different blockchain networks.
However, to save you the stress of confusion, below are some factors to consider when selecting from a wide variety of blockchain networks.
1. Transaction Speed
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a blockchain is the transaction speed, which is often referred as TPS (or Transaction Per Second) in the crypto ecosystem.
The trilemma is a widely held belief that a blockchain network can effectively provide only two of three main benefits: decentralization, security, and scalability. Notably, legacy blockchains like Bitcoin and the earliest version of Ethereum, as well as a couple of layer-1 networks, are known for their trilemma.
Then, the earliest blockchain networks typically sacrificed scalability, which has to do with processing speed, for the two other benefits that are seen to be crucial to the technology’s main purpose.
Sadly, as usage grew, these blockchain networks experienced network congestion and slow processing times, making them a key barrier for emerging blockchain networks to overcome.
As such, speed has been a major selling point for new generation blockchains and they are devising new means to achieve that with less computing power. That said, when choosing a blockchain, it is important to look out for one with high transaction speed.
2. Computational Requirement/Transaction Cost
Blockchain energy consumption is another important factor to consider when choosing a blockchain network. Notably, each blockchain has its unique computational requirement, which translates to also mean energy demand in most cases.
Usually, the computational demand of a network is determined by the consensus mechanism; before now, there were two major types: Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS). While PoW happens to be the earliest alternative, it requires a lot of energy to operate effectively. In fact, there was a lot of criticism levied against this model, leading to the birth of PoS, whose computational requirement is relatively low compared to PoW.
Today, there are no fewer than 9 consensus mechanisms, all of which introduce upgraded computational models to different blockchain networks. It’s also worth noting that the more optimized a consensus model is, the more energy-efficient it becomes and the lower the transaction cost becomes.
3. Smart Contract Compatibility
Like most DeFi protocols, most NFTs are implemented and executed using smart contracts. For curious minds, smart contracts are programmable agreements that set the terms of exchange between buyer and seller without any need for an intermediary.
By implementing a robust and foolproof smart contract, a blockchain is able to prevent external manipulation, fraudulent activities, or cyberattacks, which can potentially disrupt the network’s otherwise seamless operation or perhaps lead to the loss of valuable assets.
Forking, or Hard Fork, as it is popularly known, is a term used to describe the process by which a radical change is made to a network’s protocol such that previously invalid blocks and transactions become valid, or vice-versa. While this may be good practice for digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, it is often a terrible idea for NFTs. Why? You may ask.
One of the main drivers of NFTs, and what makes them so valuable, is their uniqueness and rarity. While hard forks may not necessarily impact an NFT item’s uniqueness, it may change the rarity status which, in itself, can be very detrimental.
Particularly, hard forks can lead to NFT duplicates, which then ruins the possibility of the NFT staying rare. As such, the possibility of forking is a major consideration to look out for when choosing a blockchain network.
Overall, selecting a highly secure blockchain is critical. Although every blockchain network is supposed to be naturally secure, they are not all equally secure or offer the same level of security. While most networks may have similar underlying infrastructure, their consensus models are not equally foolproof.
As such, you may want to do your own research on the blockchain projects that have been previously attacked and the blockchain network on which they are hosted.
Most people, for instance, prefer a blockchain with a PoS consensus mechanism over one with a PoW consensus mechanism, since the latter is thought to be more susceptible to cyberattacks. That said, below are our top picks for the best blockchain networks for NFT development.
Top 10 Blockchain Networks for NFT Development
Barely four years after launch, Tezos has become a popular name among NFT developers. The decentralized open-source blockchain is known for its unique ‘liquid proof of stake algorithm,’ which according to Tezos enables collaboration among users who are tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the governance network as well as ensuring future upgradability features.
Specifically, Tezos is designed to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions as well as double as a launchpad for deploying smart contracts and decentralized applications written in Michelson, its own low-level programming language. The programming language is also referred to as Liquid, which translates to mean the same as Michelson code.
To participate in the network, developers are required to hold the platform’s native currency known as Tez. Also, it is important to keep in mind that Tezos has three token standards to choose from, however, only one – the FA2 – is suitable for NFT project development or if you are looking to use the network for the purpose of minting NFTs.
Tezos is capable of supporting up to 40TPS for as low as a penny or less per transaction, albeit it is not the quickest when compared to other networks with higher TPS. Some of the popular NFT marketplaces hosted on Tezos include Hicetnunc and Kalamint, two of which let users easily mint, buy, and sell NFT collections.
Read Also: Top 10 Metaverses to Keep an Eye on in 2022
This is another completely open-source decentralized blockchain that launched at almost the same time as Tezos, and has also gained a great deal of attention mostly for its cost-effectiveness. However, prior to its migration to its own independent network, the native asset, Tronix (or TRX), had previously existed on the Ethereum network as ERC-20 token.
Following its migration to an independent network, Tron replaced its existing ERC-20 token standard with TRC-20 on which the network’s native asset is currently hosted.
Likewise, it recently added a new token standard, TRC-721, which is an NFT-compatible token standard that is similar to Ethereum’s ERC-721 token standard. Besides NFT compatibility, the addition of TRC-721 is also aimed at enabling users to explore new prospects for blockchain.
Also, Tron adopted an evolutionary consensus mechanism known as “delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus (DPoS),” which consists of 27 rotating super representatives. These super reps, who also double as delegates, are randomly voted for and elected by users in order for them to carry out the responsibility of validating nodes.
Infrastructure-wise, Tron functions as a fork of Ethereum; hence, the Tron Virtual Machine (TVM) is compatible with that of Ethereum. As such, developers can take advantage of the mixed environment in creating, debugging, and executing smart contracts.
In this case, developers are restricted to using solidity code, which doubles as the network’s programming language, the same that is used for deploying smart contracts across different blockchains.
Tron boasts of 2,000 TPS and charges less than a penny per single transaction. It is also considered to be a top choice for NFT developers, especially now that the network’s foundation recently announced a $300 million fund. Namely Tron Arcade, the newly-launched fund will be disbursed in three years, and will aid the development of play-to-earn blockchain gaming projects.
Worldwide Asset eXchange (or WAX) is popularly described as a carbon-neutral blockchain that runs on the same delegated PoS (DPoS) consensus mechanism as Tron. While it is considered one of the earliest to adopt the consensus mechanism, WAX surprisingly offers a faster transaction speed of up to 8000 TPS.
WAX is also popular for the title of “green NFT minting machine” and this is thanks to the fact that it consumes about 120,000x less energy than Ethereum, a great feat for an ecosystem that is typically bashed for its excessive carbon emission.
Also, unlike most blockchain networks, WAX does not have a custom programming language even though most smart contracts deployed on the network are written in C++. Seeing the popularity and keenness for the language, it is advisable for entry-level developers to get a hang of the WAX C/C++ API library before deploying contracts on the network.
WAX, like most blockchains, has its own native currency, WAXP, which is used to pay for transaction fees, governance, and staking on the network. WAXP is also used in rewarding community members whose incentives are generated from the 2% network fee charged on all NFT secondary market transactions executed on the WAX blockchain.
WAX is arguably one of the most efficient and eco-friendly blockchains for NFT development, and this is evident in popular platforms such as Alien Worlds, an NFT metaverse where users can play with unique digital items, and R-Planet, which is a revolutionary NFT-staking and gaming system that enables users to monetize their unused NFTs.
Launched in 2019, Algorand is a layer-1 decentralized network that also seeks to solve the infamous blockchain trilemma. In fact, it is popular for its exceptional speed with low latency and transaction costs, which ultimately allows easy adoption by businesses and individuals.
Besides being a highly secure and scalable layer-1 blockchain, Algorand has elaborate NFT functionalities including the ability to eliminate the need for NFT projects to design additional apps with complex features.
Algorand adopts a consensus mechanism known as Pure Proof-of-Stake, which randomly and secretly selects validators from among its network of token holders. Unlike other PoS varieties, this particular consensus mechanism guarantees a high degree of decentralization while preventing the potential of blockchain forks.
As a result, Algorand-powered NFT assets are perceived to be more protected and fool-proof compared to those on other networks with PoW, as well as the earliest variety of PoS for instance.
Although Algorand records a current capacity of up to 1,000 TPS, it is expected to scale up to 46,000 TPS in the foreseeable future. Similarly, the transaction fee on Algorand is one of the cheapest, pegged at 0.001 ALGOs, whereas 1 ALGO is currently priced at $0.4091.
If you are wondering, ALGO is the native asset of the Algorand network, and in addition to facilitating transaction fees, also enables holders to take part in decision-making processes.
Furthermore, the Algorand blockchain, despite being a relatively new network, has facilitated the development of several projects including ANote Music, an NFT marketplace connecting musicians with their audience.
ALGOeggs, which is a hybrid NFT project consisting of 2D and 3D art pieces, is another prominent example alongside Dahai and Opulous, both of which are tokenized fine art markets, DEXs, and launchpads for launching music copyright NFTs.
Just like Tron, EOS was previously hosted on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token until it was subsequently migrated to an independent blockchain network.
Following the creation of its own network, existing EOS token holders were allowed to teleport their formerly ERC-20 tokens to EOS using a dedicated portal known as EOSIO21 protocol. Essentially, EOSIO21 is a protocol to enable cross-chain token movement between ETH and EOS.
EOS blockchain is also popular for enabling frictionless development of decentralized applications and smart contracts using the PoS consensus algorithm variety known as delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS). Here, developers make use of the C++ programming language, which facilitated the launch of high-performing smart contracts.
Performance-wise, EOS is able to achieve a transaction speed of up to 4,000 TPS with an average confirmation period of half a second, which is one of the fastest.
Perhaps the best to come out of the European region, Cardano is not only famous for emerging as an environmentally friendly blockchain, but also one of the fastest-growing blockchain networks.
Cardano is a decentralized public blockchain that is fully open-source and with a distinct focus on scalability and efficiency. The blockchain network features Ethereum Virtual Machine, which enables it to support cross-chain compatibility with Ethereum smart contracts and decentralized applications.
Despite being a layer-1 blockchain, the Cardano network is able to support up to 65,000 TPS, making it one of the fastest blockchain networks in the market. Even so, the network is reportedly planning to launch a layer-2 scaling protocol – Hydra – which according to Cardano, will see the network achieve up to 2 million TPS.
In terms of transaction cost, Cardano currently charges between 0.16-0.17 ADA or the equivalent of 2 pennies, as one ADA (its native asset) is currently priced at $0.61. Compared to the likes of ALGO, the price is relatively higher but definitely worth the price for a network that’s able to achieve over 6000X faster TPS.
4. Binance Smart Chain (BSC)
To begin with, there is a difference between Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain; although the latter runs in tune with the former.
Notably, Binance Chain being the earliest version, adopts the delegated Proof-of-Stake while the upgraded BSC uses a hybrid Proof-of-Staked Authority (PoSA), which comes with advanced smart contract compatibility. Particularly, BSC’s consensus algorithm relies on a system of 21 validators that are randomly selected.
Also, Binance Smart Chain is EVM-compatible and as such, is able to support multiple programming languages including Solidity and Vyper while enabling developers to smoothly port their project between the Ethereum network and the main BSC network.
Besides cross-chain and smart contract compatibility, one of the main reasons for introducing EVM on BSC is to maintain the high throughput of the Binance Chain while introducing a robust smart contract functionality into the ecosystem.
Interestingly, BSC is neither a layer-2 nor off-chain scalability solution; instead, it can operate independently off Binance Chain, making it very exceptional. Not only that, BSC’s token standard – BEP721 – is tailored for NFT development, allowing users to tokenize their digital items. Popular NFT projects that are hosted on BSC include the likes of BakerySwap, Battle Pets, and PancakeSwap among others.
If you are familiar with the crypto space, then you may be aware of the lowkey competition between Ethereum and Solana. Since its launch, Solana has positioned itself as a serious contender to Ethereum and Cardano as a top choice destination for NFT things.
Luckily, it presented a better alternative at a time when developers were abandoning Ethereum owing to network congestion and slow performance. Hence, it quickly attracted massive adoption within a short while of being around. Today, there are no fewer than 2 million active users on Solana, making it one of the fastest-growing blockchain networks.
Solana doesn’t just brag about its competitive status, but it also backs it up with results! Notably, Solana prides itself as a highly-efficient blockchain that is capable of processing about 65,000 TPS while keeping transaction fees very low. For instance, the network charges a meager $0.01 for transaction fee, whereas others with lower TPS charge more.
Furthermore, Solana adopted a hybrid consensus mechanism that combines both Proof-of-History (PoH) and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) together. Peculiar to this hybrid consensus is the ability to secure quicker-than-average validation times for both transaction and smart contract execution.
This is a layer-2 blockchain network based on Ethereum, popular for hosting popular platforms like OpenSea, which has now grown to become the world’s biggest NFT marketplace.
Polygon is also known for hosting NFT-based games like Aavegotchi and Polychain Monster. Essentially, Polygon is a scaling solution that is designed both for efficiency and a more robust dynamic experience.
The need for the platform arose at a time when Ethereum was struggling with scalability; hence, by acting as a secondary blockchain layer, Polygon introduced a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, which boosted the validation process significantly while offering near-zero transaction fees.
Despite scalability issues before the eventual launch of Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum has continued to win the race when it comes to cryptocurrency and NFT development.
Remarkably, Ethereum has managed to overcome stiff competition from rival blockchains that are designed to be far more scalable by design. The reason for this, however, may be attributed majorly to the network’s position as market leader since it went public in 2015 as the first open-source network for developers as well as the first to support NFT projects.
Generally, Ethereum has about three main token standards including ERC-20, ERC-1155, and ERC 721. While the second and third token standards are NFT compatible, ERC-721 is the most used among NFT-backed projects. OpenSea (indirectly hosted on Ethereum via Polygon chain), and Decentraland, are two of the most popular networks using the ERC721 token standard.
The ERC1155 token standard, on the other hand, is utilized in the creation of semi-fungible tokens (SFTs), which are popular in blockchain gaming projects.
According to CryptoTimes, more than 90% of all NFTs have been created as ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum network. And in terms of infrastructure, Ethereum remains a top choice for most NFT developers considering its architecture and highly secure network.
For instance, to implement smart contracts, the network makes use of Solidity, which is an object-oriented programming language originally developed by the Ethereum team and compiled in the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). While it is considered to be the most secure, the EVM feature enables cross-chain compatibility with other blockchain networks.
The Ethereum network also recently proposed another token standard dubbed EIP-2309, which is said will enable more efficient NFT minting. Specifically, if implemented, users will be able to mint multiple tokens simultaneously within the same transaction.
Furthermore, the blockchain also has its own native cryptocurrency, Ether (or ETH), which is the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market capitalization behind Bitcoin (BTC). Plus, Ethereum is home to around 460,000 token contracts based on the ERC-20 token standard.