I lead our fintech coverage at Forbes and also cover crypto. I edit our annual Fintech 50 and 30 Under 30 for fintech, and I’ve written frequently about leadership and corporate
Critics: By: Phillip Braun
NFTs are traded in NFT marketplaces, which have structured platforms like eBay’s. Most NFTs are sold via auctions, although some sell at fixed prices. Some marketplaces specialize in a type of NFTs, e.g., art, games, sports, whereas others sell everything.
If you wish to create a new NFT (called minting) you can do so through any of the marketplaces. The largest marketplace is OpenSea, which in 2021 had about a 90% market share by dollar trading volume across marketplaces.
There are fees for creating and trading NFTs, from upfront account setup fees and minting fees to sales fees. If you are going to create or trade NFTs, make sure you know a marketplace’s fee structure. To get a sense of fees collected, OpenSea collected about 8% of its sales volume in fees in January.
There may also be royalty fees (usually 10-30% of the sales price) that go to the original creator of an NFT every time a transaction in that NFT takes place.
Through 2021, the top ten NFT collections had over $15 billion in historical trading value and around a 60% share of the total NFT market. The dominance of a few collections in the market is most likely due to a preference by NFT speculators to trade within collections. It is easier to value an NFT from a collection because there are other NFTs to compare it to.
It follows that, of the money a minority of traders make speculating in NFTs, most of it is from trading within collections. Clearly, informed traders know where the money is, but it is hard to believe that the market can absorb as many collections as there are today: 3,264, up from 193 a year ago. At some point, having so many collections defeats their purpose.
The evidence from the previous study is clear: most NFT speculative traders do not earn a positive return. From an investing perspective the results are unfortunate, but not surprising. Another aspect of trading in NFTs is that fraud within the NFT ecosystem is said to be rampant. The potential for “bad actors” to engage in nefarious selling and trading of NFTs (including counterfeit tokens or assets they don’t actually own) was described as a “contagion” by the CEO of one NFT platform.
The result is a situation where your NFT purchase could end up being worthless. Combining the difficulty of earning a positive return and the inherent risks, NFT trading is not a good proposition, so stay away. They have all the signs of being an investing fad that will likely pass.
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