Marketplace data shows, the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) market has surged to new highs during the second quarter clocking $2.5 billion in sales, up from just $13.7 million in the first half of 2020.
An NFT is a crypto asset, representing an intangible digital item such as an image, video, or in-game item. Owners of NFTs are recorded on blockchain, allowing an NFT to be traded as a stand-in for the digital asset it represents.
Earlier this year sales volumes of NFTs exploded in popularity with monthly sales volumes on OpenSea, a major NFT marketplace, touching a record high in June.
Many NFT enthusiasts see items on sales as collectibles with intrinsic value due to their cultural significance, while others treat them as an investment, speculating on rising prices.
Buyers have grossed 10,000 to 20,000 per week since March, outnumbering sellers, according to NonFungible.com, which aggregates NFT transactions on the ethereum blockchain.
The total estimate of sale may vary depending on which NFT transactions are included. Case in point: while DappRadar, which tracks sales across multiple blockchains, reported volumes under $2.5 billion for the first half of 2021, NonFungible.com’s figure is $1.3 billion, excluding around $8 billion of “DeFi” (decentralised finance) NFTs.
Both sites only track sales which occur on the blockchain, also known as “on-chain” transactions. Some of the biggest NFT sales, such as those at auction houses, have part of the transaction take place “off-chain” – they must be manually added to the data.
Earlier this year in March, a digital image sold for a record $69.3 million at Christie’s as an NFT. No NFT sale has come close since. The second most expensive known NFT sale was a “CryptoPunk” which fetched $11.8 million at Sotheby’s.
The U.S. National Basketball Association Top Shot marketplace, which allows fans to buy and trade NFTs in the form of video highlights, saw volumes shrink and buyers drop to 246,000, down from 403,000 in March. The average price of a Top Shot “moment” slumped to $27 in June, after peaking at $182 in February.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a set of 10,000 unique digital ape NFTs, has become a hit among collectors. The average ape sold on OpenSea as of July 1 for $3,600, up 1,574% from the launch price of $215 in April. According to U.S.-based Yuga Labs, the club’s creators, total sales have jumped to $61 million.