NFT sales aim for a $17.7B record in 2021: Report by Cointelegraph Research



In 2010, if someone had told you that Internet memes, digital artwork and Twitter avatars would sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, would you have believed them? 

Well, these are nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, in a nutshell. NFTs are driving blockchains toward uncharted territory on the backs of cute kitties and pixelated punks. What may appear to be a shroud of speculation over pointless collectibles is actually the clouded horizon of fintech innovation. NFTs represent a turning point. Blockchain technology is now being used to represent assets beyond the chain.

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In order to understand the thriving and intriguing world of NFTs, the Cointelegraph Research team delves deep into this new space, presenting the findings in the latest report “Nonfungible Tokens: A New Frontier.”

This report covers the history and development of NFTs, how NFTs are stored, traded and exchanged, how to mint an NFT and what platform to choose, how the NFT market works and how the prices are formed, how to find exciting new NFT projects, how NFTs are regulated in various jurisdictions, how much energy is used when creating and trading NFTs and what future awaits this emerging market.

Download the full report here, complete with charts and infographics.

How it all started

Bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney first mentioned an early version of NFTs in 1993. He called them “Crypto Trading Cards.” In a forum discussion, Finney touched on definable scarcity, exclusive ownership and provenance. These concepts are now at the core of every NFT.

The idea of NFTs wouldn’t see much development until 2012 when Yoni Assia wrote about “colored bitcoins,” which eventually became “colored coins.” Built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, Colored Coins created semifungible tokens that were supposed to represent real-world assets such as real estate, commodities and bonds.

One of the earliest NFT iterations “Quantum” was created in 2014 by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash and presented at the New Museum in New York City. In 2015, the first Ethereum-based NFT called Etheria was launched at Devcon 1. This is largely considered to be the first truly nonfungible token.

The term “NFT” emerged in 2017. Although little known at the time, two very significant NFT projects, CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties, were launched in 2017. This same year, the first NFT house was sold through Propy. This marked the first wave of NFT popularity which synchronized with the crypto market cycle.

Market growth

NFTs have become a booming market that expands year after year. For example, sales have grown from just $41 million in 2018 to an astonishing $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, representing a 60-fold growth in three and a half years.

Even compared to 2020, the growth is staggering. Total sales in 2020 reached $340 million and in 2021 so far the sales have already surpassed $9 billion which is more than 25-fold growth according to data from on NFTs on Ethereum.