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Why NFTs Are Still Not Mainstream

An in-depth exploration of NFT Barriers to Adoption

What Are NFTS?

  • NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique cryptographic assets on a blockchain, each possessing distinct identification codes and metadata that set them apart from one another. Unlike fungible tokens such as cryptocurrencies, NFTs cannot be duplicated, making them ideal for representing items like art, music, videos, and in-game assets. While NFTs hold the potential to transform digital asset ownership and collection, we must first address the current obstacles hindering this future, which we will identify and discuss in this article.

The Impact of Price Floors

  • The assessment of whether the present NFT price floors are justified varies from person to person. However, what remains objective is the formidable barrier to entry that arises when an NFT project attains relative success, leading to a surge in prices to exorbitant levels.

  • Success in the NFT market can lead to price increases that make it challenging for newcomers to afford or participate in the market. This barrier can deter potential collectors or investors who are not willing or able to pay the inflated prices, thus impacting the accessibility and inclusivity of the NFT ecosystem.

The Influence of Gas Fees on the NFT Market

  • The architecture of blockchain platforms significantly shapes user behavior within the NFT space. Blockchains designed for low transaction fees encourage users to become appreciators of NFT art rather than purely investors. For instance, on platforms like Ethereum, where gas fees are high, users often approach art acquisitions as investments to increase the likelihood of a return on their already inflated purchase prices. This shift in perspective diminishes the original purpose of art, which is meant for appreciation. Additionally, it results in only a select few projects gaining notoriety, as many market participants are financially disincentivized to invest in lesser-known collections due to limited liquidity, reducing the chances of finding trading parties

  • Fees also pose a significant challenge to the efficiency of NFT automated market makers (AMMs), further exacerbating the issue of limited liquidity. Addressing this problem would not only enhance liquidity but also contribute to the stabilization of floor prices. This, in turn, would have a positive ripple effect on gas prices, particularly on networks like Ethereum, which rely on interconnected gas mechanisms at a system-wide level. By fostering greater liquidity.

  • Fees also hinder gamification but also undermine the potential for a more interactive and engaging NFT experience. Gamification in the NFT space can attract a broader user base by facilitating frequent and seamless transactions, making buying, selling, and trading NFTs more enjoyable. Lower fees and improved scalability are crucial factors in achieving this goal, as they can unlock the full potential of gamification and enhance user participation in the NFT ecosystem.

Yield Where?

  • The concept of sustainable yield NFTs represents an exciting innovation in the NFT space. These NFTs are designed to provide ongoing income or value for their holders, setting them apart from traditional, static NFTs.

  • Despite their potential, sustainable yield NFTs are still in the experimental phase, and a universally accepted model has yet to emerge. This lack of a proven model makes it challenging for both creators and collectors to fully harness the income-generating potential of these assets.

    Furthermore, these challenges serve to exacerbate the prevailing opinion that NFTs are indeed ripe with speculation.

    Insufficient Trading Instruments

  • Certain auction mechanisms may not be well-suited for NFT trading. As evidenced by Yuga Labs' decision to abandon the Dutch auction for their Otherdeeds NFT sale, Adapting auction methods to better align with the unique characteristics of NFTs can lead to more efficient and user-friendly marketplaces, ultimately benefiting both creators and collectors in the NFT space.

Bots can disrupt NFT automated market makers (AMMs) through various strategies and tactics:

  • Sniping: Bots are often programmed to "snipe" newly listed NFTs as soon as they become available. They can execute transactions at high speeds, acquiring desirable NFTs before human users even have a chance to react.

  • Front-Running: Bots can detect and execute trades just before significant transactions take place. For instance, if they identify a user's intention to buy a particular NFT, they can quickly purchase it first and then offer it to the user at a higher price.

  • Scalping: Scalping bots buy NFTs with the intention of reselling them at a higher price almost immediately. This can artificially inflate prices and create a volatile market.

  • Price Manipulation: Some bots engage in price manipulation by executing a series of rapid buy or sell orders to influence the perceived value of an NFT or to trigger stop-loss orders set by other users.

  • Token Sniffing: Bots can monitor blockchain transactions for specific keywords or addresses related to NFTs. This allows them to identify potential opportunities for arbitrage or sniping.

  • Market Manipulation: Bots may place large orders at extreme prices to create the illusion of high demand or to trigger specific market conditions that benefit their strategies.

  • Scripted Bidding: In auction-style NFT sales, bots can be programmed to place automated bids at the last moment to outbid human participants.

  • API Abuse: Some bots exploit vulnerabilities or weaknesses in NFT marketplace APIs, gaining an advantage in accessing data or executing trades.

Problematic Marketplaces

  • Pricing Dynamics: The divergence in pricing structures across various NFT marketplaces is a consequence of the absence of standardized practices between these platforms. This divergence stems from a multitude of factors, including dynamic price calculation methodologies, as well as the aforementioned variations in auction mechanisms.

  • Within the NFT ecosystem, the absence of a uniform approach to pricing has led to the emergence of disparate systems, each governed by its unique set of rules and algorithms. This diversity in pricing strategies and the utilization of dynamic price calculation methods contribute to the complexity of determining the fair value of NFTs across different platforms.

  • Insider Trading: Over time, concerns have arisen regarding the fairness and transparency of the NFT marketplace, with certain cases shedding light on potential insider trading practices. Notably, the OpenSea platform, a prominent player in the NFT ecosystem, has faced allegations and investigations related to insider trading, prompting discussions and calls for improved regulation within the industry.

Addressing these issues and enhancing regulatory oversight is crucial to maintain trust and integrity within the NFT marketplace.

  • Fraud: The NFT space has grappled with the pervasive issue of counterfeit or fraudulent collections.

  • This challenge encompasses the existence of numerous counterfeit NFT collections and fraudulent projects that aim to deceive and defraud collectors and investors. The proliferation of these deceptive collections undermines trust within the NFT ecosystem and highlights the need for vigilant due diligence, robust verification processes, and regulatory measures to safeguard participants from such scams and fraudulent activities. As the NFT landscape continues to evolve, the industry must remain vigilant in identifying and mitigating these fraudulent endeavors to foster a secure and credible environment for all stakeholders.

  • Siloed Liquidity: The fragmentation of liquidity across various NFT marketplaces has resulted in a fractured landscape, wherein the availability of assets is spread thinly. While efforts to aggregate liquidity have been made, the potential for marketplaces to wield monopolistic control over the markets they aggregate from poses a significant concern, as exemplified by the case of Rarible following OpenSea's decision to cease reinforcing royalties.

  • This development, which garnered enthusiasm among creators and enthusiasts, indeed marked a notable shift in the dynamics of the NFT ecosystem. It signaled a potential challenge to the prevailing practices in the industry. However, it also raised concerns about the consequences of such actions. This scenario set a precedent, sparking discussions regarding the influence and decision-making power wielded by dominant marketplaces within the NFT space.

The Lack of Utility

  • At present, the dominant category in the NFT landscape comprises Profile Picture (PFP) collections. These collections undoubtedly captivate a specialized audience, but their utility tends to be limited, primarily serving as digital status symbols or speculative assets. This limitation has constrained their appeal and adoption among a more extensive consumer base. However, there is a compelling case to shift the primary focus of the NFT space towards exploring and expanding broader use cases, some of which are outlined in the graphic below.



  • The inability to seamlessly transfer NFTs between different blockchain networks poses a significant hurdle in the realm of social NFT promotion, particularly in terms of identity and community building. This challenge can lead to user friction in several ways, impacting the overall NFT experience:

Fragmented Identity:

  • NFTs often represent a significant aspect of a user's digital identity and personal expression. When users discover appealing NFTs on one blockchain but wish to explore or engage with a different blockchain community, they may find their digital identity fragmented.

  • The inability to carry over NFTs between chains limits the cohesiveness of a user's digital presence and makes it challenging to maintain a consistent online persona across different platforms.

Hindered Community Building:

  • NFTs serve as a means of forging connections within communities that share common interests. Users may be discouraged from participating in new communities on different blockchains if they cannot bring their existing NFTs with them.

  • This lack of interoperability hampers community building efforts as users may be less inclined to actively engage with or invest in a new blockchain-based social ecosystem.

Limited Showcasing Opportunities:

  • The inability to showcase NFTs across different blockchain networks restrains users from sharing their collections and achievements effectively. This limitation affects their ability to demonstrate their identity, achievements, and affiliations within various blockchain communities.

  • As a result, users may feel less motivated to participate in different networks, as they cannot effectively showcase their NFTs and contributions.

Increased User Friction:

  • Overall, the lack of cross-chain NFT portability adds a layer of complexity and friction to the user experience. Users may need to create multiple accounts and manage different wallets for various blockchain networks, making it cumbersome to engage in the broader NFT ecosystem.

  • This complexity may deter potential users and hinder the growth of the NFT space.

Limits NFT Growth and Awareness for Smaller Creators:

  • Smaller, lesser-known creators and collections are particularly affected by the lack of cross-chain portability. Without the ability to showcase their work across different blockchain communities, these creators may struggle to gain recognition and awareness for their NFTs.

  • The limited exposure and accessibility hinder their growth potential within the NFT market.

Risk of Fraud and Counterfeit Collections:

  • Another concerning aspect is the risk of fraudulent or counterfeit NFT collections. The inability to verify the authenticity of NFTs between blockchains can expose users to potential scams and counterfeit assets particularly new users.

  • This risk erodes trust within the NFT ecosystem and underscores the importance of developing robust verification mechanisms and security measures.

Limited Showcase Platforms

  • The limited availability of platforms offering effective showcase options for NFTs extends beyond dedicated NFT marketplaces. It includes social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, where NFT enthusiasts and creators often seek to promote their digital assets. To foster the growth and awareness of the NFT ecosystem, it is imperative to expand the range of platforms that provide showcase capabilities.

  • Twitter and Instagram: While Twitter and Instagram are widely used for sharing NFT-related content, their current infrastructure does not fully support the dynamic display and exploration of NFT collections. Users often resort to linking external marketplaces or portfolios, leading to a fragmented user experience.

  • Need for Dedicated NFT Showcases: The NFT space would benefit from the emergence of dedicated showcase features on popular social media platforms. These features should allow users to display their NFT collections seamlessly and interactively within their profiles, enhancing visibility and engagement.

  • Expanding the Audience: Expanding showcase options to platforms like Twitter and Instagram can significantly broaden the reach of NFTs. These platforms have extensive user bases, including individuals who may not actively participate in dedicated NFT marketplaces.

  • Fostering NFT Communities: Enhanced showcase features can contribute to the formation and growth of NFT communities on mainstream social media. These communities can facilitate discussions, collaborations, and the discovery of new NFT creators and collections.

  • Educating and Attracting New Audiences: User-friendly showcase options on mainstream platforms can serve as educational tools for newcomers to the NFT space. They can help individuals better understand NFTs and their value, potentially attracting new audiences to the ecosystem.

  • Showcasing Beyond Art: Effective showcase options can extend beyond NFT art collections to include other categories like music, virtual real estate, and in-game items. This diversity can showcase the versatility of NFTs.

  • To unlock the full potential of NFTs and maximize their accessibility and reach, it is essential to encourage the development of showcase features on popular social media platforms. This expansion can help bridge the gap between the NFT world and mainstream audiences, fostering greater awareness and adoption of digital assets in various forms.

The Lack of DRM

  • NFT Digital Rights Management (DRM) represents one of the most significant challenges hindering the growth and adoption of NFTs. Despite the vast potential of NFTs, there has been an excessive focus on blockchain technology, often at the expense of user-centric considerations like DRM. This oversight has the potential to stifle wider adoption and mainstream appeal. Here's why DRM is crucial, particularly for creators:

  • Protecting Creators' Rights: Creators' intellectual property rights are paramount. Without robust DRM solutions, creators may be vulnerable to unauthorized reproduction and distribution of their digital assets, leading to potential loss of revenue and control over their work.

  • Ensuring Royalties and Compensation: DRM mechanisms play a vital role in ensuring that creators receive fair compensation for their work over time. Smart contracts and blockchain technology can facilitate automatic royalty payments to creators whenever their NFTs are resold, but these mechanisms need to be widely implemented.

  • Preventing Unauthorized Reproduction: DRM can deter or prevent the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of NFTs. This not only protects creators' income but also maintains the scarcity and value of digital assets within the NFT ecosystem.

  • Boosting Confidence Among Collectors: Robust DRM measures can enhance the confidence of collectors and investors. Knowing that their digital assets are protected against unauthorized use or replication can encourage more substantial investments in NFTs.

  • Promoting Mainstream Adoption: For NFTs to achieve mainstream adoption, they must appeal to a broader audience, including creators, collectors, and casual users. Robust DRM solutions can make NFTs more attractive to creators who might otherwise be hesitant to participate due to concerns about copyright infringement.

  • Addressing the DRM challenge within the NFT space requires collaboration between creators, platforms, and the broader community. Finding user-friendly and effective DRM solutions that balance the protection of creators' rights with the accessibility and functionality of NFTs is essential for unlocking the full potential of this transformative technology and ensuring its longevity.

Overly Blockchain focused (Polygon Reddit Study)

  • Reddit's approach cleverly avoided explicit mentions of "NFTs" while emphasizing the concept of collectibles, which resonated well with users and conveyed the essence of digital assets. This strategy contributed to a seamless user experience (UX) on the platform.

  • The social media giant demonstrated a keen understanding of the intrinsic value held by its most devoted users, particularly those who had amassed significant "Karma" points. In response, Reddit implemented a well-thought-out strategy of bestowing complimentary Avatars upon these loyal users.

  • This strategic maneuver served as a seamless introduction of a collectible collection to Reddit's most dedicated user base. By providing them with these free Avatars, Reddit not only rewarded their loyalty but also deepened their engagement with the platform. This initiative not only enriched the user experience but also catalyzed a growing interest in the world of collectibles within the Reddit community.

  • Moreover, this collectible feature was seamlessly integrated into users' profiles. Additionally, Reddit's decision to facilitate the purchase of these collectibles using credit cards marked a significant advancement. This innovation was particularly valuable for users who might not be well-versed in the intricacies of handling cryptocurrencies and digital collectibles.

  • It's worth noting that Reddit's choice of the Polygon network to address the previously mentioned blockchain-related challenges underscores the importance of selecting suitable blockchain solutions. Polygon's scalability and cost-effectiveness align with Reddit's goal of making blockchain technology more accessible to a broader audience, ensuring a smoother user experience while interacting with collectibles on the platform.

  • the strategic execution decisions made by Reddit, such as the seamless integration of collectibles and the utilization of the Polygon network, played a monumental role in the platform's success and the onboarding of users. This success is clearly reflected in the rate of growth of holders, as evidenced by data from Dune Analytics.


Public opinion (environment/overhyped)

  • The success of NFTs has, to a significant extent, been impeded by public perception and growing concerns regarding their environmental impact. Depending on who you ask, this issue is viewed as either a strawman argument or a legitimate concern. These perceptions have been shaped by the actions and decisions of both blockchain and Web 2.0 companies.

  • In terms of public perception, there is a divergence of opinions regarding the environmental implications of NFTs. Some argue that the concerns over energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with blockchain technology are overstated or a "strawman" argument. They contend that the environmental impact of NFTs is relatively small compared to other industries.

  • However, there is a growing contingent that sees environmental concerns as a legitimate and pressing issue. The carbon footprint of blockchain networks, especially those utilizing proof-of-work consensus mechanisms, has come under scrutiny. This segment of the population believes that the environmental impact of NFTs should not be downplayed and that sustainable blockchain solutions are essential.

  • Furthermore, public perception has been influenced by Web 2.0 companies' actions in the NFT space. Some of these companies have attempted to capitalize on the NFT trend with what are perceived as cash-grab experiments. For example, Ubisoft's foray into NFTs with Tezos faced backlash and damaged its reputation. Such actions have led to skepticism and wariness among the public, eroding trust in the motives and intentions of companies entering the NFT space.

  • Video essays discussing the challenges and issues associated with NFTs have become increasingly prevalent on platforms like YouTube. These video essays typically delve into various aspects of NFTs, including environmental concerns, copyright issues, market speculation, and more. They often provide critical analysis, exploring both the positive and negative aspects of the NFT phenomenon. Here is one below that has garnered a lot of attention.

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