Key Takeaways

  • Solana is getting a new NFT marketplace called Metaplex.
  • The platform will allow creators to mint and sell non-fungible tokens through an easy-to-use marketplace.
  • Most NFTs live on Ethereum today, but the expense of the chain could help the space flourish on Solana.

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Solana gets a new NFT platform. 

NFT Marketplace Heads to Solana 

A new NFT platform is launching on Solana. 

Metaplex is a decentralized protocol that will allow creators to mint and auction non-fungible tokens on the Solana blockchain. It’s designed to provide “key infrastructure for the metaverse” and is targeting creators, a press release notes. 

The project will allow artists to launch their own page through the platform without possessing any knowledge of how smart contracts on Solana work (the tagline on the project’s website reads: “Own your own NFT storefront”). Non-fungible tokens surged in popularity this year, attracting the interest of musicians, digital artists, and other creatives. They can encompass tokenized digital art, music, intellectual property, or any other type of asset, and are useful for proving the ownership and scarcity of a piece. 

To date, most NFTs live on Ethereum, though the Metaplex launch should help the space grow on Solana. Metaplex has received support from a number of key NFT proponents, including RAC, Street Dreams, and CryptoKickers. It’s also received strategic support from Solana Labs and FTX. RAC said of the platform:

“Metaplex will do for NFTs what Shopify did for commerce, but takes it one step further by not acting as the middleman. This aligns with the true ethos of the NFT movement, which is to kick open the door for the creator economy, not extract value from our communities.”

Any NFTs minted through Metaplex will be stored on Arweave, which backs data with perpetual payments for a one-off fee. This will enable creators to receive automatic payouts. NFTs on Ethereum work in a similar way; the smart contracts of an ERC-721 or ERC-1155 token can be programmed to automatically pay a fee to the original creator. 

The Vision for Metaplex 

Metaplex will be fully decentralized, which isn’t true of many other popular NFT marketplaces. It will soon have its own token, META, which will be used to govern the protocol. 

Raj Gokal, COO of Solana Labs and strategic advisor to Metaplex, explained how building on Solana will allow Metaplex to overcome many of the challenges associated with the NFT space today. He said: 

Building on a foundation of the Solana protocol and Arweave, Metaplex is able to dramatically reduce minting and trading fees. The launch of a Solana-based NFT platform will help accelerate the pace of innovation we’re seeing in the space by providing an easy to use and more economically viable platform that can better serve both the creators and their communities.” 

The project is also hoping to offer alternatives to centralized payment systems. To achieve that goal, Helium will auction “Hotspots,” NFTs that represent access to the Helium wireless network. 

Infrastructure partners include FTX and Audius, a popular decentralized streaming service that runs on Ethereum today. Co-founder Roneil Rumburg said that Metaplex was “an ambitious take on unifying NFTs in the Solana ecosystem” that could make “the vision of NFT legos and composability for NFT tooling to become a reality.” 

Metaplex is among Solana’s first NFT-centric projects. Most others are found on Ethereum, which suffers from high gas fees as a result of the chain’s popularity (the growth of NFTs and DeFi have been key contributors to network congestion). Layer 2 projects like Immutable are hoping to make NFTs more accessible on Ethereum, but with Solana’s capacity for high-speed, low-cost transactions, Metaplex could have a bright future ahead. It opens to developers and creators Jun. 3. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned ETH, ETH2X-FLI, and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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