Discover the top NFT blockchains collectors for trading digital art, trading cards, and collectibles on NFT marketplaces.
In the last couple of years, the Ethereum blockchain has been the dominant player in the NFT space, but the network has come under immense pressure as the NFT ecosystem has gone from a digital art niche to a multi-billion dollar economy; this has driven gas fees up and congested the network.
Competing blockchains have raced to make up for the Ethereum network’s shortcomings. As a result, there are now at least half a dozen viable alternatives that offer faster and cheaper NFT trading opportunities. But are they better than Ethereum, or are they just cheap knock-offs?
We’ve prepared a guide for you that will explain what features make a blockchain ideal to buy NFTs and sell NFTs on, which networks fulfill the criteria, and what NFT marketplaces they work with.
Table of Contents
NFT Trading Criteria
The cryptocurrency market has come a long way since Bitcoin’s debut in 2008, and as it evolved, so have the number of use cases blockchains have to offer developers and users. Take a look at the most critical features to consider when looking for top NFT blockchains.
Transaction speeds, also known as transactions per second (TPS), play a massive role in the blockchain competition. Networks with higher TPS can handle more traffic without getting clogged up, mitigating the cost of individual transaction fees.
Whether you’re trading crypto, stocks, or non-fungible-tokens, you will always look for low fees. As a result, blockchains developers have dedicated considerable time to creating networks that will save you money.
All NFT marketplaces leverage smart contracts to verify ownership of digital assets and to trade them between wallets, and not all smart contracts are made equal. The higher the coding quality behind a smart contract, the more likely it is to offer a secure platform for trading assets.
NFT Marketplace Compatibility
Trading NFTs has been simplified by online marketplaces that act as e-commerce sites for digital collectibles, trading cards, and NFT art. The top marketplaces such as OpenSea, Rarible, Superrare, and Nifty only function with specific blockchains giving them an upper hand over others in terms of ease of use and breadth of access to the NFT market.
The Best NFT Blockchains
Now that we’ve covered some of the factors we need to consider when identifying the top NFT blockchains, we’ll dive into the guide.
1. Ethereum (ETH)
The Proof-of-Work (PoW) smart chain compatible Ethereum blockchain was where the NFT movement started following the project’s launch in 2015. Most NFTs on the market are created as ERC-721 and ERC-1155 Ethereum tokens and are programmed using Ethereum’s Solidity code.
Security: Ethereum’s PoW consensus mechanism and Solidity code make Ethereum the safest blockchain on the market for buying, selling, and holding NFTs.
Marketplaces: Ethereum has the broadest reach in terms of marketplace access; the blockchain is compatible with the majority of top NFT marketplaces, several of which were built on Ethereum, including OpenSea, and Rarible, Mintable, and Nifty.
Top Collections: Some of the most valuable and well-known NFT projects, such as the CryptoPunks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), were created on Ethereum and are traded for the network’s native ETH token.
Future Projects: The most hyped new NFTs will likely launch on the Ethereum blockchain thanks to its dominance of the market and security.
Metaverse: Most of the top metaverse projects like Decentraland and The SandBox are built on the Ethereum blockchain network. The NFTs within these virtual realities are often traded for ETH.
Gas Fees: The Ethereum network’s popularity is a double-edged sword as the constant network traffic has pushed gas fees on the network; if you want to learn how to reduce the fees, check out the NFT Brief’s gas fee guide.
Speed: Congestion on the Ethereum network often results in prolonged transaction speeds, making trading NFTs using the blockchain frustrating and inconvenient.
Consensus Mechanism: The PoW system may be very secure, but it has been criticized as environmentally unfriendly due to the amount of energy it consumes; however, the upcoming ETH upgrades will see the blockchain switch to PoS.
2. Solana (SOL)
The Solana (SOL) is a layer-1 cryptocurrency blockchain with a unique proof-of-history (PoH) and PoS consensus mechanism that is looking to compete with Ethereum in various fields, including the NFT space.
Solana is widely regarded as one of the fastest smart contract compatible cryptocurrency networks making it a strong contender for the best NFT blockchain.
Low Fees: Transactions are incredibly cheap on Solana, usually costing a fraction of a dollar.
Speed: The Solana blockchain is one of the fastest in operation, handling over 65,000 Transaction Per Second (TPS), whereas Ethereum is limited to between 12-45.
Dedicated Marketplaces: Solana has a handful of dedicated SOL-based NFT marketplaces, such as SolSea, SolanArt, and MagicEden, and it recently became compatible with OpenSea.
Scalability: Solana’s speed and low costs make it a great candidate for continued expansion in the NFT market.
Solana Projects: Although the biggest NFTs are still Ethereum-based, Solana has seen several high-profile projects launch on the network, including Okay Bears and SolPunks.
Security: One of the most significant issues facing Solana is security. The network has been attacked by hackers several times in the past year, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets have been stolen.
Centralization: Solana has often been critiqued for its centralization;. However, it allows it to process more transactions, it is more vulnerable to attacks than more decentralized networks like Ethereum and Cardano.
3. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano (ADA) is a layer-1 proof-of-stake blockchain launched by Charles Hoskinson as a more scalable and cheaper alternative to Ethereum.
The network’s native token has solidified its place as a top 10# cryptocurrency thanks to its real-world use cases and growing DeFi ecosystem.
Cardano is known for its extremely high level of decentralization and reliability, making it a strong player in the NFT space.
Speed: Cardano boasts 250 TPS which ranks it above Ethereum but well below Solana; however, the upcoming Hydra upgrade will reportedly boost TPS to around 2 million.
Cheap: Cardano is one of the cheapest blockchains, with an average transaction fee of around $0.10.
Security: The Cardano blockchain is very secure due to its high level of decentralization and the fact that all upgrades are peer-reviewed by a team of leading blockchain experts.
ADA Marketplaces: Cardano has been used for a handful of dedicated NFT marketplaces such as CNFT, Galaxy of Art, and Jpg Store.
Compatability: ADA is incompatible with the biggest NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rarible.
Congestion: In early 2022, the Cardano blockchain saw transactions fail as the network became congested, it’s not clear if this problem will become more commonplace if more NFTs are traded on the blockchain.
4. Binance Smart Chain (BSC)
The Binance Smart Chain is a smart contract compatible blockchain that is essentially a second layer interacting with the Binance Chain. The Binance Smart Chain has made waves in the NFT space thanks to its dedicated marketplaces, native BEP-721 NFT token and successful collections.
Marketplaces: The Binance NFT marketplace has emerged as one of the most popular NFT trading sites with dozens of blue-chip projects and the trendy NFT mystery boxes.
Create and Trade: The BSC ecosystem has several unique platforms for trading and minting NFTs, such as BakerySwap (collectibles), PancakeSwap (Financial tokens), and Battle Pets (Gaming tokens).
Cheap Minting: Creating an NFT on BSC is relatively inexpensive, with an average cost of $2-3.
Speed: BSC is not as fast as some competitors, with a TPS of 50.
Centralization: BSC is run by just 21 nodes, making it very centralized compared to Ethereum or Cardano.
5. Tezos (XTZ)
Tezos leverages open-source blockchain technology that enables peer-to-peer transactions using its smart contracts. The native XTZ token powers the Tezos blockchain, and the network’s FA2 token is explicitly designed for NFTs.
Unique Marketplaces: The Tezos network has been used to create several individual NFT marketplaces, such as Kalamint, which is a community-owned site; Baazzar Market, which promises to be a carbon-neutral site; and the P2P trading site Objkt.
Big Names: Tezos has collaborated with some very famous brands, such as the Grammy Awards and Red Bull Racing.
Speed: Tezos can’t compete with the speeds offered by Solana and Cardano, with a TPS of 40.
Market Reach: Tezos is still a relatively small project and therefore isn’t supported by the significant NFT marketplaces, and it lacks a variety of multi-million dollar projects.
6. Polygon (MATIC)
Polygon (MATIC) is a layer-2 blockchain that works on top of Ethereum to make ETH more scalable, connected to other compatible networks, and cheaper. Theoretically, Polygon gives us access to all the best Ethereum NFT platform features without the drawbacks.
Marketplaces: Polygon is not only compatible with major Ethereum-based marketplaces such as OpenSea and Refinable; it makes them cheaper and faster to use through its ETH scaling solution.
MATIC Marketplaces: Beyond acting as an Ethereum scaler, Polygon has been used to develop several NFT marketplaces, such as PolyNFT.
Speed: Polygon is capable of processing over 60,000 TPS.
Transaction Costs: Using Polygon instead of Ethereum reduces gas fees drastically.
Reliability: The reliability of the Polygon blockchain has been questioned due to sporadic mass transaction failures such as the one experienced in March 2022.
Security: Although Polygon interacts with Ethereum, it doesn’t have the same level of security.
7. Flow (FLOW)
The Flow blockchain was launched in 2020 by Dapper Labs, and its scalability and speed attracted the attention of developers looking for an alternative to the well-known layer-1 networks.
NBA Top Shots: Undoubtedly, one of the biggest successes of Flow has been the NBA Top Shots NFT marketplace which was built on the blockchain and trades using its native FLOW token.
Speed and Fees: Flow has impressed the crypto world with its rapid TPS of 10,000+ and its minimal fees that are often below a fraction of a cent.
Unproven: Flow is still in its nascency, and as a result, it’s yet to prove itself as a secure blockchain in the long term.
Access: Flow is still a relatively small project, so many major NFT trading sites do not support its native FLOW token.
8. Wax (WAX)
The Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX) went live in 2017 with a carbon-neutral Proof-of-Stake blockchain. The environmentally conscious project believes that NFTs can be great without depending on energy-intensive transactions.
Energy Efficient: The Wax blockchain uses over 100,000x less energy per transaction than Ethereum, massively reducing the emissions generated by using the network to trade NFTS.
Trees: The Better Planet Project by Wax encourages users to offset their carbon footprint by buying NFTs linked to a tree-planting program.
Speed: Wax has combined a carbon-neutral system with a very respectable TPS of 8,000.
Neutral Marketplace: NeftyBlocks is a WAX NFT trading site with zero gas fees and a carbon-neutral pledge.
Limited Reach: Wax is focused on being eco-friendly, and it does this very well, but in terms of access to major NFT marketplaces, it has little to offer.
Security: Like any smaller project, the resistance of the Wax blockchain to attacks and congestion is yet to be truly proven.
Final Thoughts On The Top NFT Blockchains
The NFT economy has come a long way since the days when Ethereum ruled the roost free of competition; today, there are dozens of blockchains offering an alternative to ETH.
For now, Ethereum is still #1 thanks to its unparalleled security and market reach, but alternative layer-1s like Cardano and Solana are catching up while smaller projects like Flow and Wax are carving out important niches in the NFT ecosystem that the more prominent names have neglected.