January 04, 2023 - 15 min read
Solana is currently one of the fastest-growing Layer-1 blockchains on the market today. It’s also fast, processing 2,000 to 3,000 transactions per second (TPS) (with a maximum of 65,000 TPS), and has fast finality times between 6-8 seconds. Perhaps most importantly, Solana has significantly lower gas fees than competitors like Ethereum.
With the rapid growth of the NFT market and the technical limitations of Ethereum, it’s no wonder that many NFT collections have begun to spring up on Solana, and these Solana NFTs have triggered the growth of a variety of Solana-first NFT marketplaces.
The largest of these marketplaces is SolSea, which launched in August 2021. SolSea is a product of the ALL.ART protocol, an infrastructure project which provides a suite of NFT products, including NFT AMM (automated market maker) Liquidity Pools, which allow NFTs to be perpetually traded like traditional cryptocurrencies by providing continuous liquidity. It also created the Unity Solana wallet, the first open-source Solana wallet with support for Solana NFTs. The wallet helps NFTs interface with crypto projects, including blockchain games, for example, by allowing NFTs to be used for in-game actions such as unlocking exclusive content.
It should be noted that, as of right now, SolSea is only the largest Solana NFT marketplace by user count, not by transaction volume. Several other marketplaces, including SolSea competitor Magic Eden, actually have a larger transaction volume than SolSea itself.
SolSea is often compared to OpenSea, which is currently the largest NFT marketplace bt both users and overall sales volume. OpenSea is generally considered an Ethereum-first NFT marketplace, though it has recently become compatible with both Polygon and Solana NFTs. While SolSea is growing rapidly, it’s much smaller than OpenSea. SolSea currently has an estimated 80,000 monthly users, compared to OpenSea’s 1 million users. It also has a significantly lower transaction volume than OpenSea.
When comparing transaction fees, SolSea offers lower fees than OpenSea (2% vs. 2.5%), and some SolSea transactions are free. Like OpenSea, the fee is only charged after a successful purchase.
Solanart is another one of the most popular Solana NFT marketplaces in the industry. Solanart is a dApp running on the Solana blockchain, giving it an edge on decentralization over some other marketplaces, however, it does keep some data off-chain, which does lead to a certain degree of centralization. Unlike Magic Eden, Solanart minting is available to anyone without prior approval. Solanart does have slightly higher fees than many other NFT marketplaces, as it does charge a 3% sales fee for all NFTs. Unfortunately, the marketplace is only compatible with the Sollet Wallet, the Sollet Chrome extension, and Phantom Wallet, and does not currently support other Solana-compatible crypto wallets.
Some of the most popular NFT collections on Solanart include Degenerate Ape Academy, Aurory, and SolPunks. Aurory, one of the most interesting projects on Solanart, is an upcoming NFT-based MMORPG game and has had more than $60 million in NFT transactions on Solanart since the collection launched. Solanart has nearly the transaction volume of competitor Magic Eden, with an overall sales volume of nearly $660 million as of September 2022.
Like Opensea and many other NFT marketplaces, SolSea offers a wide variety of NFTs for sale. These include traditional art NFTs, which often consist of extensive collections of JPEG images, but they also sell a variety of other unique NFT types, including crypto domain names, and even NFTs backed by real-world assets.
Specific NFT types advertised by SolSea include:
One potential limitation of SolSea is that it accepts fewer cryptocurrencies than marketplaces like OpenSea. SolSea only accepts $SOL and several stablecoins, including USDT and USDC, while OpenSea accepts Ethereum (ETH), Klatyn (KLAY), Polygon (MATIC), and Solana (SOL).
In addition to providing a valuable and dynamic marketplace for NFT buyers and sellers, SolSea has various other unique features. Some of these include:
Currently, SolSea is only compatible with seven wallets, including the Phantom, Ledger, Coin98, Solflare, Sollet, Slope, and Torus wallets. Below, we’ll review a few of the features of each to help you decide which wallet or wallets might be best to use with your SolSea account.
The Phantom Wallet is perhaps the most popular Solana wallet on the market today. The Phantom Wallet is a decentralized, non-custodial wallet that works as a browser extension on most major browsers. Right now, the wallet is limited to the Solana blockchain, so it does not offer compatibility with other major blockchains like Ethereum or Bitcoin.
One of the most popular features of the wallet is its built-in swap mechanism, which allows users to swap all cryptocurrencies on the Solana blockchain, including SOL itself, as well as bridged UDST, USDC, Raydium, and Serum, just to name a few. The wallet’s creators plan to introduce an Ethereum swap mechanism soon, potentially sometime in Q4 2022. The Phantom wallet also fully supports Solana NFTs and can be linked to hardware wallets like Ledger for increased security.
Ledger produces some of the most popular hardware wallets in the crypto industry, with the main models being the Ledger Nano S and the Ledger Nano X. The Nano X, the more expensive of the two, offers more flexibility, is compatible with iOS (unlike the Nano S), and is designed for users holding a larger amount of or a more diverse portfolio of cryptocurrencies. Ledger offers support for more than 1,800 cryptocurrencies, though only some of them are supported through Ledger’s native Ledger Live wallet app. While Ledger Live does support SOL, many users instead opt to connect a third-party wallet app to their Ledger wallet.
As previously mentioned, Ledger users can connect the Phantom Wallet to their Ledger device, and can also connect other Solana wallets, including Solflare. It should be noted that Ledger devices have Bluetooth compatibility, which can make things easier for users but may also create a potential security issue.
The Coin98 Wallet is a cross-chain software wallet that is known for supporting a variety of DeFi applications as well as a large number of blockchains. In addition to Solana, some of the blockchains supported by the Coin98 wallet include Bitcoin, Ethereum, BNB Chain and Binance Smart Chain (now BNB Beacon Chain and BNB Smart Chain, respectively), Avalanche, Near, Polkadot, Kusama, Cosmos, TomoChain, Celo, Arbitrum, and Optimism. The Coin98 Wallet is compatible with Android and iOS, allows users to switch between 12 different languages, and offers online customer support.
Solflare is another software wallet designed for the Solana ecosystem and functions as a browser plugin and a web app. Unlike other Solana wallets, SolFlare was designed directly by Solana Labs, the app development arm of Solana, which does give it a certain degree of credibility. It should be noted that SolFlare is currently only compatible with Ledger hardware wallets, which could be limiting for some users. SolFlare has an internal swap mechanism, provides full support for Solana NFTs, and allows users to stake Solana directly through the wallet app.
Sollet is an open-source Solana wallet generally intended for more advanced users. Sollet is designed to interact directly with smart contracts, so some may wish to use it for bot trading or other somewhat complex, technical activities. Despite its advanced smart contract functionality, the wallet is considered to have a less-than-friendly user experience when compared with other Solana wallets.
Slope is a user-friendly Solana wallet which is often compared to the Phantom and SolFlare wallets. Slope is fully compatible with Android, iOS, and Chrome. Like Phantom, Slope has an easy-to-use built-in swap mechanism and fully supports Solana NFTs. Slope has a relatively large user base, reportedly having around 80,000 active users on Chrome alone. However, despite these benefits, Slope has suffered from some security issues, with an August 2022 bug leading to the draining of around 8,000 Slope wallets.
The Torus Wallet is a cross-chain crypto wallet designed to work with a variety of blockchains, including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain (now BNB Smart Chain), Polygon, and the xDai Blockchain. The wallet is known for its high security (for a software wallet) by leveraging variant key threshold management and other powerful security solutions. It should be noted that the Torus Wallet only recently added support for the Solana blockchain, so it’s unclear if this could lead to any bugs or security issues.
There are several steps you will need to take before minting your first NFT on SolSea. These include:
Also keep in mind that:
To learn more about a specific NFT you are interested in, or wish to purchase, you can click to open up Solscan, one of the most popular Solana blockchain explorers, to find out information, including the token address, mint authority, and the NFT’s metadata.
As of early Q3 2022, the top 10 projects on SolSea by sales volume include:
While SolSea may be the largest marketplace for Solana NFTs, it’s hardly the only one. Other than Solanart, some of the other competitors in the space include:
Magic Eden is a highly popular, decentralized marketplace for Solana NFTs, and is generally considered the second-most prominent Solana NFT marketplace behind Solsea. Like Solsea, Magic Eden charges a 0% listing fee and a 2% transaction fee for sales.
Unlike most other Solana NFT marketplaces (and NFT marketplaces in general), Magic Eden provides a comprehensive launchpad that supports NFT creators during the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch periods, and makes it easy for non-technically-inclined creators to launch NFTs in just a few simple steps. All creators must do is upload their files, and Magic Eden will automatically convert them into NFTs. However, creators do need to be approved first to use the launchpad, which makes it more exclusive, but slightly less open.
To promote further decentralization of the platform, Magic Eden is in the process of creating a DAO to govern the marketplace, called Magic DAO. Magic DAO will be governed by the holders of special Magic DAO NFTs, which are currently being distributed in different tiers to thousands of users’ wallets, with higher-level governance NFTs being airdropped to earlier Magic Eden users, and lower-level governance NFTs being airdropped to those who started using the platform later.
Magic Eden is one of the largest NFT marketplaces by transaction volume, with an all-time transaction volume of more than $700 million as of June 2022. In addition, the marketplace recently closed a “$130 million Series B venture round, after previously closing a $27 million Series A venture round from VC firms including Solana Ventures. This makes it not only one of the most prominent but one of the best-funded NFT marketplaces in the industry.
MetaPlex is less of an exchange and more of a collection of tools and smart contracts designed to allow independent creators to launch their own Solana NFT storefronts and sell NFTs at little to no cost to themselves. According to MetaPlex, the platform and its tools have led to the minting of over 17 million NFTs, resulting in over $1 billion in revenue generated for creators. Anyone can create their own white-label storefront, or use existing branded storefronts. Creating a white-lable storefront, does, however, require a bit of technical knowledge. In addition to simple storefront’s MetaPlex’s tools allow for the creation of whitelists, as well as tools that prevent bots from sniping NFTs.
Exchange Art is a Solana NFT marketplace geared toward fine artists. Like OpenSea, Exchange Art charges no minting fee but does charge a 2.5% fee for successful sales. In September 2022, Exchange Art raised $3.2 million from various VCs, including Layer One Ventures. Exchange Art is growing quickly, but much smaller than most other Solana NFT marketplaces, with only $11 million in sales as of September 2022.
Despite the ups and downs of the NFT market, Solana NFTs have become increasingly popular, and so have the marketplaces that sell them. As one of the first Solana NFT marketplaces in the industry, SolSea was, for a while, the undisputed market leader.
While it can still be considered the top marketplace, as it has the most active users, SolSea’s transaction volume has fallen significantly compared to competitors like Magic Eden, and it’s unclear whether the marketplace will be able to catch up. While it does offer a wide variety of useful and easy-to-use features, some of the larger Solana NFT collections have been increasingly sold on other marketplaces.
As the Solana NFT space continues to heat up, market observers should continue to watch closely as these Solana-first NFT marketplaces begin to compete with more established players like OpenSea. In the end, while transaction costs and ease of use are essential, the marketplaces where the rarest and most desirable NFTs are sold generally grow the fastest– meaning that SolSea’s future may still be bright, but it’s also somewhat uncertain.
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