NFT Markets Dominated by ‘Whitelisted’ Users While Retail Traders Strike Out

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At least $26.9 billion has been invested into non-fungible tokens (NFT) this year, according to a year-end Chainalysis report.

According to a report from Chainalysis, that amount has gone into the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 contracts that predominantly underpin NFT collections and marketplaces. Because the total value sent and average transaction size are both significantly increasing, the report suggests that NFTs as an asset category are gaining value as more users become invested. 

OpenSea NFT market leading the pack

Similarly to how users tend to stick with particular crypto exchanges, the report detailed that most bought their NFTs on dedicated marketplaces. With over $16 billion worth of crypto received so far this year, OpenSea is by far the most popular of these. 

Being the largest marketplace, with over 6,000 NFT collections reporting at least one transaction, the report detailed that OpenSea provided insight into the growth of NFTs overall. Active NFT collections, those with at least one transaction a week, have risen significantly since March, increased quickly in July, then rose steadily through October.

Over this period the number of active NFT collections rose from 193 at the outset of March to a peak of over 2,300 the week of Oct 24. Most OpenSea users are from the United States, according to web traffic analysis.

Whitelist a must

The report also revealed that only those who initially purchase an NFT through a “whitelist” are able to resell it for outsized profits. NFT creators incentivize others to contribute and promote the project by placing them on a whitelist, enabling them to purchase new NFTs at a much lower price than other users during minting events

Chainalysis emphasized that this process is not inconsequential. The data reveals that whitelisted users have later sold their newly-minted NFT for a profit 75.7% of the time. However, more retail investors lacking the benefit of being whitelisted only profited from the sale of an NFT 20.8% of the time. “Not only that, but the data suggests it’s nearly impossible to achieve outsized returns on minting purchases without being whitelisted,” the report concludes. 

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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