Digital assets have become all the rage over the past few years. As our world has become more dominated by technology, we’ve increasingly sought to turn the tangible into the digital.
Bitcoin was created to be a digital currency that a central bank can’t control, and now there are more than 8,000 cryptocurrencies that serve various purposes. In addition, the pandemic forced our workforce into the digital, and virtual reality is taking over the video game industry.
In recent months another digital asset that has taken center stage is non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Like cryptocurrency, the NFT market has skyrocketed in popularity to $22 billion globally in 2021 as digital images have been turned into significant investment opportunities1.
Whether NFTs will remain a viable investment asset or are destined to crash and burn remains to be seen, but one thing is sure, people can’t get enough of them.
Whether you’re a seasoned NFT holder or have no idea what an NFT is, you should know some crucial information about this new asset class.
Here are NFT statistics to understand in 2022, including market, sales, and trends.
But first, what are non-fungible tokens?
What are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)?
In essence, NFTs are cryptographic digital assets with unique codes and metadata. The tokens are virtual representations of digital or tangible items and can represent virtually anything.
The “non-fungible” term means that these tokens are unique and can’t be replaced with something else. For instance, a one-of-a-kind baseball card is non-tangible and cannot be replaced or traded for the same thing. Non-fungible tokens work similarly.
While Bitcoin and blockchain technology have been around since 2008, NFTs are relatively new. NFT trading really came on the scene in 2017 when the studio Lava Labs developed a series of collectible digital characters called CryptoPunks2.
Since then, NFTs have grown increasingly popular and have been created for various things. However, most of the NFT market is currently focused on digital art and sports cards, although other highly-priced NFTs exist.
While NFTs are not a cryptocurrency, they run on the same technology (Ethereum blockchain, to be exact), making them verifiable and unique.
Now that you know the basics of NFTs, here are some interesting statistics to understand NFTs in 2022.
General NFT Statistics
1. NFT Market Cap
The NFT market cap is worth more than $7 billion as of November3.
2. Millennials Like NFTs Most
Millennials are three times as likely as Gen Zers to buy and sell NFTs4.
3. First and Largest NFT Marketplace
OpenSea is the first and largest NFT marketplace with over $6.5 billion in trading volume5.
4. NFT Sales Volume
NFT sales have grown 131 times from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, which saw $2 billion in sales6.
5. Largest NFT Sale in History
The largest sale in NFT market history is Pak’s “The Merge.” It sold on December 2nd, 2021, for 91.8 million dollars, making it the most expensive NFT sold to date7.
6. Over 265,000 active wallets traded NFTs
265,927 active wallets traded NFTs on the Etherium blockchain in quarter 3 of 20218.
7. As Many as 20,000 NFT Buyers Have Been in the Market in One Week
Curious how many NFT buyers are out there? In February of 2021, the weekly active wallets rose above 10,000 for the first time since 2017. In March, the number hit 20,000.
However, since then, the weekly active wallets have leveled to between 8,000 and 12,000, triple the number of weekly active wallets in 20179.
8. NFT Trading Volume Eclipsed $10b in 3Q21
The trading volume of NFTs rose sharply during the third quarter of 2021 to $10.67 billion, which is a 704% increase from the previous quarter10.
9. The First NFT Originated in 2014
The first known NFT was called “Quantum.” It was created in May of 2014 by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash and consisted of a video clip made by McCoy’s wife. It was sold to Dash for $4 during a live presentation at a conference11.
10. Most NFT Sales Come in Under $200
While NFTs can sell for a few dollars to millions, roughly 50% of all recorded sales are under $200, making the average price for most NFTs relatively low12.
11. Minting and Selling NFTs Comes in Around $100
The average cost of minting and selling an NFT is between $70 and $120 but can go into the thousands13.
12. Famous Shiba Inu “Doge” is the Most Expensive NFT Meme
The Shiba Inu named Kabosu, famously known as the “Doge” meme, is one of the most expensive NFT memes ever sold at 4 million dollars14.
13. An NFT Video Clip Sold for $1 million
One of the most expensive NFT video clips is a rotating gummy bear skeleton15. Called “Not Forgotten, but Gone,” this clip sold for $1 million this past year16.
NFT Sales Figures
14. NFT Sales in Sports
The biggest NFT marketplace for sports is Dapper Labs, which is the official marketplace for NBA and NFL non-fungible tokens.
Furthermore, one of the hottest NFT trends of the past year is NBA Top Shot, which features video clips of NBA players and their most iconic moments.
NBA Top Shot has already made north of $700 million.
But, it isn’t just sports leagues that are cashing in on the NFT craze. Sports stars like LeBron James have offered their own NFTs that have sold for more than $100,00017.
The more expensive NFT in sports was the LeBron James Statue, which sold for $21.6 million.
15. NFT Sales in Art
OpenSea is the leader in NFT sales and will be your best bet if you’re looking to buy NFTs6. Furthermore, the platform has an easy-to-use process for NFT creators looking to mint their own NFTs.
Especially for artists and creators looking to sell digital artwork online, OpenSea is going to be a great place to start.
Art is also one of the largest drivers of NFT sales, as digital art holds several of the top spots for the most expensive NFTs sold.
“Everydays: The First 5000 Days” sold for $69.3 million, and “Human One” sold for $28.9 million18. Several CryptoPunk artworks also sold for millions this past year.
16. NFT Sales in Music
With the rise in popularity of NFTs over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before NFT sales would expand into music.
In a world of streaming where revenue has taken a hit, artists are now making more than ever selling their music as NFTS.
For example, Eminem sold his first NFT collection in April for $1.78 million19. Furthermore, the estate of late rapper XXXTentacion is planning to sell unreleased songs as NFTs19.
There was also an unreleased Whitney Houston demo track sold as an NFT and a piece of classical music sold as an NFT20.
17. NFT Sales in Social Media
While social media itself hasn’t necessarily taken off as NFTs yet (although Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did sell his first tweet as an NFT), the role of social media in NFT sales is undeniable.
Social media, especially Instagram, has largely replaced physical galleries and art exhibits as the place for artists to showcase their artwork14.
Not only do artists have the potential to build a considerable following on social media, but they can also inform them about NFTs for sale, where they can be bought, and announce sales.
Furthermore, NFT marketplaces utilize social media to advertise their offerings as well.
In short, social media is partly what has allowed NFTs to become so popular and marketable to the general public.
Here are some of the latest trends in the NFT industry.
18. Types of NFTs
There are currently nine major types of NFTs. They are:
- digital art
- video game items
- trading cards/collectibles
- sports moments
- domain names
- virtual fashion
- miscellaneous online items like tweets
19. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Sold His First Tweet as an NFT
One of the most unusual NFTs was the first-ever tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, which sold for $2.9 million21.
20. NFT Tickets are Up and Coming
The NFT market is now making its way into the world of tickets. Not only will buyers get to attend the live event, but they will also collect a digital asset.
NFT tickets also have to potential to offer exclusive access, lifetime value, and extra incentives for buyers.
For instance, Kings of Leon are selling NFTs that will grant lifetime front-row seat access to future concerts22.
21. You Can Now Purchase NFT Fragments
The hottest NFTs are expensive and inaccessible to general NFT buyers. All that is changing with NFT fragmentation23.
Fragmentation is breaking an expensive NFT into smaller pieces, called shards, so that people can purchase a portion of the NFT at a much lower price.
Owning shards of an NFT is like owning shares in a company. The ironic thing is that by making expensive NFTs more accessible to the average buyer, fragmentation actually makes the tokens fungible.
22. Artificial Intelligence has Arrived in the NFT Market
Artificial Intelligence is intersecting with NFTs in a few ways23. First, AI is now creating artwork and then minting them as NFTs.
Furthermore, AI and NFTs are merging to create iNFTs, or artificially intelligent NFTs, that have a personality and can learn and converse.
These iNFTs live on the blockchain. One of these iNFTs, named Alice, recently sold for nearly $500,00024.
23. NFTs are Entering the World of Film and Television
Recently, an NFT animated show called Stoner Cats became available, and you can only watch the show if you’re a Stoner Cat NFT owner25. The series includes the voice-talents of Mila Kunis, Jane Fonda, and Seth MacFarlane, among others.
However, it isn’t just obscure shows looking to take advantage of NFT sales. Media giants such as Disney and Fox Entertainment are also looking to cash in on NFT collectibles and projects26, 27.
24. You Can Now Turn Your Medical Data Into NFTs…and Make Money
One of the latest NFT trends has the potential to help you make money. Aimedis is the first medical NFT marketplace, allowing medical data to be bought and sold as NFTs.
Like survey-taking for market research or participating in studies, individuals can turn their medical data into NFTs to be sold to pharmaceutical companies.
25. NFTs as Collateral
Say you own an expensive NFT or a decent collection of non-fungible tokens but have little cash in your possession and no other significant assets.
Now, instead of having to rely on an NFT sell-off to access funds, you can take out a loan and use your NFT as collateral with companies like Drops. You could also earn interest with your NFT portfolio by lending to others.
NFT Environmental Impact
As with other cryptocurrencies, each NFT minted does have some impact on the environment. For instance, Bitcoin mining uses enough energy to power 10 million homes a year.
26. How do NFTs Impact the Environment?
Most NFTs work on the Ethereum blockchain, which requires a proof of work system to confirm each new block. The process of confirming each block is called mining and consists of computers on the network racing to solve a complex problem.
The first computer to solve it verifies the block and collects the gas fees. Thus, miners invest in more computer power, and if that power comes from sources that emit greenhouse gases, the environment is negatively impacted.
27. Ethereum’s Carbon Footprint is Similar to That of Sudan
Although not as carbon-intensive as Bitcoin, Ethereum is currently estimated to consume 44.94 terawatt-hours of electrical energy and release 21.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year28.
28. The Average NFT Has a Carbon Footprint Similar to an Average Person in the European Union
Digital artist Memo Akten analyzed 18,000 NFTs and found the average carbon footprint similar to that of the average person living in the European Union28.
This large footprint is partly due to the many transactions involved with NFT minting, bidding, sales, and transfer of ownership. Overall, NFT emissions are estimated to be ten times higher than the average Ethereum transaction.
29. Ethereum is Planning a Shift to Lessen Environmental Impact
Luckily, blockchain networks realize their platforms’ impact on the environment and are attempting to mitigate it. The developers of Ethereum are planning to move to a less carbon-intensive proof of stake system called Ethereum 2.0 in 2022.
30. The Shift to Ethereum 2.0 Could Reduce NFT Energy Usage by 99%
Proof of stake systems results in fewer emissions because they don’t require mining. Thus, while some platforms have already moved to proof of stake systems for trading NFTs, the majority remain on the Ethereum blockchain.
Hence, the shift to Ethereum 2.0 should significantly reduce energy consumption28.
Related NFT Statistics Questions
The following are related NFT statistics questions and their answers to help you better understand how NFTs work and the current market.
Do NFTs only work on particular blockchain technology (e.g., Ethereum, Bitcoin, etc.)?
Yes, as previously mentioned, most NFTs run on the Ethereum blockchain. However, some NFTs work on other blockchain technology.
For instance, the Rarible marketplace lets you sell NFTs using the Flow blockchain (which is also used by NBA Top Shot), and OpenSea will let you sell using Polygon blockchain.
However, there are some drawbacks to using Ethereum alternatives. For example, you may be limited in the NFTs you can sell and how you can sell them.
Additionally, transactions made on a non-Ethereum blockchain mean that NFT traders won’t be able to use Ethereum directly to make their purchases.
How do you prove ownership over an NFT?
NFTs can have only one owner at a time, and that ownership is managed through metadata and a unique identifier that other tokens cannot replicate.
When NFTs are minted, smart contracts assign ownership and manage the transferability, which is also stored on the blockchain where the NFT is managed.
Put simply, proving ownership over an NFT is similar to showing ownership of Ethereum. When you purchase a token, that token is transferred to your wallet and proves that the digital file is the original.
Thus, holding the private key to the wallet containing the NFT demonstrates proof of ownership.
Furthermore, the content creators’ public key remains part of the history of the non-fungible token and will show the transaction and transfer of ownership as well.
Where do you store NFTs?
NFTs are stored in the same way as cryptocurrency, and there are several options for storing them. From least secure to most secure, your storage options are a software wallet (soft wallet), InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), or a hardware wallet (hard wallet).
A soft wallet provides standard security for NFTs. All activity is encrypted and secured using your password. However, these wallets have been hacked and have the potential to be hacked in the future despite measures taken to protect them.
An IPFS stores your NFTs off the blockchain and on your computer using content identifiers. While an IPFS is a more secure method for storing NFTs, you still have the potential to be hacked if your computer is compromised.
Lastly, hard wallets offer the most secure way to store NFTs. This is because the data is kept entirely offline and password protected. As a result, hackers have no way to access NFTs in hard wallets, and your data can be recovered if the wallet is lost or stolen with a recovery phrase.
Why are people collecting NFTs?
Collectors exist for almost everything. From sports cards to stamps to coins to dolls, and everything in between, people collect things for investment purposes, buy and sell, and simply for entertainment. In other words, people collect for a variety of reasons.
The same can be said for NFTs, which are digital versions of many of the tangible items people were already collecting. Thus, many people buy digital collectibles because they are interested in the particular NFTs they are collecting and wish to have them.
Some collect NFTs for investment purposes similar to that of collectible cards, rare coins, and fine art. In these cases, unique or more valuable NFTs are purchased to later sell and turn a profit.
Other investors may wish to purchase NFTs from up-and-coming artists in the hope that their collections will become more valuable.
How can you buy and sell NFTs?
The best place to buy and sell NFTs is on NFT marketplaces. Some of the most popular marketplaces include OpenSea, Larva Labs, NBA Top Shot, Rarible, Nifty Gateway, and Mintable.
Sources for NFT Statistics 2021 and 2022:
- The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/dec/16/nfts-market-hits-22bn-as-craze-turns-digital-images-into-assets
- Larva Labs: https://www.larvalabs.com/cryptopunks
- Business Insider: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/currencies/nft-market-worth-7-billion-legal-issues-could-hinder-growth-2021-11
- Morning Consult: https://morningconsult.com/2021/04/05/millennials-nfts-collectibles/
- Medium: https://medium.com/nerd-for-tech/top-10-nft-marketplace-41f2ca114162
- Non-Fungible: https://nonfungible.com/subscribe/nft-report-q1-2021
- Dexerto: https://www.dexerto.com/tech/top-10-most-expensive-nfts-ever-sold-1670505/
- Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/technology/nft-sales-surge-107-bln-q3-crypto-asset-frenzy-hits-new-highs-2021-10-04/
- Non-Fungible: https://nonfungible.com/market/history
- CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/06/nft-trading-volume-hit-10-billion-2-reasons-why-people-are-buying.html
- The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/nfts-werent-supposed-end-like/618488/
- Art Net: https://news.artnet.com/market/think-artists-are-getting-rich-off-nfts-think-again-1962752
- Poster Grind: https://postergrind.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-mint-an-nft/
- Social Samosa: https://www.socialsamosa.com/2021/09/nft-101-the-role-of-social-media-in-the-sale-of-nfts/
- India Post: https://www.indiapost.com/youtube-video-sold-for-760-999-here-are-the-most-expensive-nfts-ever/
- KTNV: https://www.ktnv.com/13-investigates/list-of-most-expensive-nfts-sold-so-far
- CBS News: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sports-nft-dapper-labs-nba-investment/
- Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-12/crypto-investor-is-buyer-of-beeple-nft-in-christies-digital-art-auction
- Tone Deaf: https://tonedeaf.thebrag.com/5-of-the-biggest-and-best-music-nft-collections-yet/list/eminem-178-million/
- NFT Now: https://nftnow.com/music/top-music-nft-moments-2021/
- BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-56492358
- Rolling Stone: https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/kings-of-leon-when-you-see-yourself-album-nft-crypto-1135192/
- Queue-It: https://queue-it.com/blog/exciting-future-nft-trends/
- Sotheby’s: https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2021/natively-digital-a-curated-nft-sale-2/to-the-young-artists-of-cyberspace?locale=en
- Stoner Cats: https://www.stonercats.com/
- Ledger Insights: https://www.ledgerinsights.com/disney-to-launch-nft-digital-collectibles-with-veve/
- Coin Desk: https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/06/15/fox-tv-puts-100m-behind-its-nft-driven-blockchain-experiment/
- CBS News: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nft-art-environmental-costs/