10 Things I Learned from Buying NFTs on Tezos
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
Last month, I set out to buy an NFT for every one of my friends who wanted one. At the same time, I decided to run a twelve day giveaway on TikTok in which I gifted one NFT per day to a random user who commented on my video.
Although it may sound like a daunting challenge, I was able to pull this experiment off with a limited budget (less than $100!) and for minimal gas fees.
The whole experience, which turned out to be fantastic, opened my eyes to what the future of NFT collecting will look like in a world where gas is affordable and the hurdles of onboarding people to NFT collecting are resolved.
What I didn't expect going into this experiment was that I would learn so much. Here are my takeaways from buying dozens of NFTs for friends, followers, and family over the holiday 2021 period.
1. Tezos is a viable Ethereum alternative that already supports a robust economy of NFT trading.
The first question I had to decide when going into this project was which blockchain should I use. After a little bit of research and experimentation, the answer was clear: Tezos.
Tezos may not be the first blockchain that comes to mind when you think about NFTs, but it turned out to be the perfect option for me as I searched for NFTs to send to friends and followers. Generally speaking, I found shopping on the network to be easy, fun, and cheap - exactly like shopping should be.
Affordable NFTs - plenty of options under $10.
Low gas prices - only cents to make a transaction.
Dead-simple onboarding - I was able to email the NFTs I bought to friends who didn't know anything about crypto.
Let's talk more about that last point...
2. You can now email NFTs to people who don't have crypto wallets.
This. Is. Huge.
The first problem I encountered when I set out to give NFTs away was: how do I give an NFT to someone who hasn't set up a wallet yet?
As far as I am aware, this remains an unsolved problem on Ethereum on Polygon. On those networks, a user must be able to give you a wallet address in order for you to send them the NFT. This of course requires the user to have some familiarity with crypto already, and is a very high bar to entering the NFT space.
It turns out, that's not the case on Tezos. The Kukai wallet client allows people to access a dedicated wallet from a social account or email address. Even better - anyone can generate the wallet address for the user based simply on the account's username. Only that account will have access to the wallet, which means that when the recipient is ready, they can log in to the wallet using their existing social account and retrieve the NFT.
With that tool available, I just had to ask my friends and followers for a Gmail address, Twitter handle, or Reddit username, in order to send them an NFT that they could retrieve on their own. The recipient does not need to have a crypto wallet, and does not even need to know what Tezos is or what "seed phrase" means.
I expect gifts to be a massive use case for NFTs in the long term. If that is to be the case, onboarding has to be extremely simple for mainstream users. This is exactly the type of workflow that will make that possible.
3. You can collect high quality art for less than $10 on Tezos.
Much of the art for sale on Tezos is priced around (and under!) 1 tez. 1 tez is currently worth about $4, meaning you can find a cool NFT to add to your collection for less than the price of a coffee.
Throughout my twelve day Twitter giveaway, I managed to spend about 12 tez total. And not one person complained that the quality of the art seemed lacking. Rather, repeat commenters said they were amazed at how much cool art there was on Tezos for so cheap - which was exactly the point I was trying to illustrate.
4. There is still major opportunity for new artists on Tezos.
I was shocked to find that often times these tags would return just a handful of NFTs. This meant that if I was set on buying an NFT with that theme - for instance, a portrait of the city for a friend who had just moved there - the chance that I would buy one of those few NFTs was extremely high.
My takeaway was that artists minting on Tezos should be enthusiastically tagging their work for discovery by people searching for subjects they love.
5. The art market on Tezos is still in chaos in the wake of Hic et Nunc's shutdown.
Unlike in the Ethereum world, there is no go-to marketplace for NFTs on Tezos. That used to be Hic et Nunc before its sudden shutdown in November. Now in its wake there remains a mess of mirrored sites, lookalikes, and also-rans, none of whom quite knock it out of the park from a usability perspective. (Although to be fair - usability was never the selling point of HEN, either. 😅)
I had the most success shopping for NFTs on hic.af. The killer feature was its search, which allowed me to set a budget and add some other helpful parameters. The front page was also a fantastic place to find hot new drops and popular artists. However, I found hic.af to be very slow at loading gifs, and my computer often turned into a quagmire while loading the search results page - or even the home page!
6. Gifting NFTs is FUN.
The only thing better than finding the perfect NFT is finding the perfect NFT for your friends. I had such a blast searching random terms that I knew were up my friends' alleys, then picking the best thing that I knew would put a smile on their face.
Gifting NFTs is faster, more personal, and cheaper than finding actual physical gifts for friends, and I can do it with a lot more people. I'm positive that this is an activity I'm going to look forward to every holiday.
7. It takes work to verify the NFTs you're buying are legitimate and worth a dime.
Decentralized marketplaces have many benefits, but they will perhaps always be plagued by the problem of keeping them free from fraudsters.
There are likely no good solutions to this problem, and ultimately a certain amount of responsibility will always fall on the buyer to ensure they are buying something legitimate.
While shopping for NFTs, I encountered several "artist" profiles who had uploaded work of other artists and offered them for sale as their own work. This passing off of someone else's art as your own NFT is called copyminting.
It was not always a simple task to discern whether an artist was real or a fraud. In some cases, I only spotted the fake because I happened to know an artist's work had already been published on a different, more expensive/exclusive platform - but we cannot and should not expect most buyers to operate with that savvy.
Asking yourself these questions before making a purchase will help protect you from buying fake NFTs.
Does this artist have a verified profile, or link to other social accounts?
Do the artist's other social profiles point back to their Tezos presence? Are they posting about their art for sale on Tezos?
Has the artist been minting for a significant period of time?
Have they been minting regularly, or was everything uploaded all at once?
Is the art relatively consistent, or is it a jumble of styles?
Is the art priced reasonably? (If it looks like it took a TON of work, but it's selling for just a few dollars - that could be a red flag.)
When I was in doubt about the artwork's veracity, I either tried to contact the artist for more information, or simply decided that no matter how great an NFT seemed, the risk of buying someone what turned out to be a fake NFT was not worth taking the chance.
8. People who are curious about NFTs LOVE receiving NFTs as gifts.
My 12-day giveaway on Tiktok was received with overwhelming enthusiasm by commenters. Each day, dozens of people commented in the hopes of wining an NFT. In all those hundreds of comments, I can't recall a single critical one. And remember: I only spent around 1 tez ($4) per day on the NFTs I was giving away.
Even more amazing to me was that the people who received the NFTs became eager to to learn more. I was thrilled to see one winner later join the Discord of the artist whose work they had received from me. Others told me that it was their first NFT, or first NFT on Tezos, and that they were excited to start collecting more.
9. People who have never collected NFTs don't know what to do with them.
Apart from the TikTok giveaway, I also gifted NFTs to a handful of friends. The first email I got back was telling:
"I have to be honest and say that I have no clue what to do with this, but I am thankful nonetheless!
I ended up typing up a form letter that I sent along with every NFT that I gave to a friend or follower, giving some ideas about what they could do with it. Which made me realized... it's a very short list!
I told them they could view the NFT in their wallet, or on a marketplace; that they could join a social network like Showtime (disclosure: I'm an investor) and start building up their collection; or that they could sell the NFT for cryptocurrency. (That last option seemed a bit awkward to suggest to friends, since I had just taken the time to find an NFT that I hoped would speak to them.)
So a bonus takeaway here is that... it's still too early. Most people won't understand the point of owning NFTs until they can use them for something, or until they can show them off in the places where they spend their time online - like their social media profiles.
We have every reason to believe that Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks are planning to integrate NFTs into profiles. Until that happens, NFT art will remain obscure, and mostly of interest only to other NFT collectors.
10. The NFT gift market is going to be massive.
I can't repeat enough how much fun I had giving gifts, and how much fun people had receiving them. If crypto and NFTs continue to catch on at the staggering rate they have been in the last year, and if even 10% of the population in the future enjoys buying NFTs as gifts, then we are likely to see a supermassive gift market emerge in future years.
Collectors: I highly suggest setting some time and money aside to buy NFT gifts for people you care about. I promise you'll have a great time, and what's better than making someone's day with a surprise, hand-picked gift?
Creators: I urge you to keep the gift market in mind as you work, and to make sure to tag your work for maximum discovery in the NFT marketplaces.
Have you ever given an NFT as a gift? Leave a comment below - I would love to hear what you bought, where you bought it, and what you thought of the exercise!