NFT Sales on Bitcoin Peak Near $900 Million in December 2023 – What’s Next?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Monthly NFT sales volume on Bitcoin hit a record-high in December 2023, overtaking leading blockchains including Ethereum and Solana. Sotheby’s Bitcoin NFT auction, multi-million dollar Van Gogh painting NFT sales and a meme coin craze are the key reasons for this surge.

Non-fungible token (NFT) sales on Bitcoin (BTC) exploded to an all-time high in December 2023 to remind the crypto enthusiast that the NFT market has not frozen in the crypto winter cold.

The Bitcoin blockchain recorded NFT sales worth over $881 million in December 2023, overtaking established NFT marketplaces on Ethereum (ETH) and Solana (SOL) during the month, data compiled by CryptoSlam showed.

What is the reason behind the rise in Bitcoin NFTs? Will Bitcoin overtake Ethereum as the leading NFT blockchain? What next for the NFT industry? We answer these questions and talk about relevant NFT news in this article.

Understanding Bitcoin NFT Data

To understand the reasons behind the record-high Bitcoin NFT sales in December 2023, let’s briefly talk about Bitcoin ordinals.

Bitcoin ordinals is a protocol that gained mass attention at the start of 2023 by introducing a way to mint NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Typically, NFTs are created on smart contract-powered blockchains like Ethereum by feeding data (text, images, videos, etc) to a smart contract used to mint, distribute, edit, manage, and burn NFTs.

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On the other hand, Bitcoin does not have smart contract features, and therefore, the blockchain did not have NFTs until the rise of Bitcoin Ordinals in early 2023.

Bitcoin ordinals allow users to inscribe data on satoshi tokens (the smallest denomination of BTC). The inscription allows a satoshi token to become identifiable and unique from others, ultimately creating a non-fungible satoshi. Today, inscription is being used to create profile picture NFTs, art NFTs, meme coins, and ERC-20 equivalent tokens called BRC-20 tokens on Bitcoin.

The data compiled by CryptoSlam includes sales of NFT art, meme coins, and other BRC-20 tokens on Bitcoin.

The Reason Behind Bitcoin’s Record-Breaking NFT Sales

Let’s briefly discuss the key reasons why Bitcoin NFTs attracted over 250,000 unique buyers and recorded all-time-high monthly sales in December 2023.

  • Sotheby’s dips toes into Bitcoin NFTs

Sotheby’s made headlines in December 2023 after conducting its first-ever Bitcoin NFT sale. The premier auction house published a pixel art Bitcoin NFT collection called BitcoinShrooms. The artworks consisted of three pixelated images inspired by the Super Mario video game.

According to CoinDesk, the auction drew bids nearly five times the highest estimates, while more than two-thirds of all bidders were first-time bidders at Sotheby’s.

  • Vincent Van Gogh-inspired Bitcoin NFT sales rake in millions of dollars

A Bitcoin NFT collection called Van Gogh’s painting, which looks “to preserve the beauty of Van Gogh forever,” emerged as the top Bitcoin NFT collection in late 2023.

The collection – which consists of 97 unique Van Gogh artworks – saw three NFTs sell for over 1 million each in December 2023, showcasing deep interest in notable Bitcoin NFT collections.

Van Gogh’s painting #216 – which inscribed a Van Gogh painting called Starry Night Over the Rhône – topped the charts with sales worth $1.19 million on December 3, 2023.

Meanwhile, Van Gogh’s painting #132 – which inscribed Sunflowers – and Van Gogh’s painting #242 – which inscribed The Harvest – sold for over $1 million each.

  • Memecoin and BRC-20 token trading craze

The memecoin trading craze that swept across the crypto world in 2023 did not make an exception for the Bitcoin blockchain. At the time of writing, NFT data compiled by CryptoSlam showed that BRC-20 meme coins called SATS, RATS, and MICE were top-selling NFTs across all blockchains in the past 30 days.

The three Bitcoin-based meme coins accumulated total sales of over $1.6 billion in the last 30 days as of January 4, 2023.

Will Bitcoin Become the Leading NFT Blockchain?

At the time of writing, CryptoSlam data showed that Bitcoin topped 30-day NFT sales volume numbers with sales worth over $870 million, ahead of Ethereum’s $338 million. However, it should be noted that Bitcoin’s NFT sales data takes the sales of BRC-20 tokens into account, while Ethereum’s NFT sales data do not account for ERC-20 token sales.

It is premature to put the NFT ecosystems of the two blockchains against each other.

The one-year-old Bitcoin NFT industry still has a lot of ground to cover if it wants to usurp Ethereum’s crown as the leading NFT platform. Ethereum tops the all-time NFT sales volume at over $42.1 billion, which is miles ahead of Solana ($4.6 billion), Ronin ($4.2 billion), and Bitcoin ($1.9 billion) as of January 4, 2024.

The Bitcoin NFT market does have momentum and community enthusiasm behind it, which is currently lacking in an oversaturated Ethereum NFT market. However, internal struggles within the Bitcoin community between pro-Ordinals and anti-Ordinals factions may throw a wrench in the growth plans of the Bitcoin NFT industry.

What Next for the NFT Industry?

It is no secret that the NFT market is going through a prolonged slump. Despite the surge in cryptocurrency prices in the second half of 2023, the NFT market remained subdued for the period. There is a belief among insiders that the NFT industry is evolving to become more than a marketplace for vanity artworks and profile picture images.

The real-world asset tokenization is a key theme that the NFT industry is banking on to revive its fortunes. We are seeing openness from traditional finance companies and real estate corporations to tap into blockchain technology to leverage its reach, transparency, and immutability.

In the near future, it will not be difficult to imagine blockchain-powered real estate listings that disclose a property’s entire history of transactions and renovations to buyers.

Elsewhere, an emerging social movement like decentralized social could bring added utility to NFTs that store personal identification, private information, login details, and passwords in one place in a secure, decentralized, and immutable manner.

The Bottom Line

Bitcoin’s record-high monthly NFT sales volume is great news for digital art creators and enthusiasts who have had to adjust to a lengthy bear market following the highs of 2021.

It remains to be seen whether 2024 will be the year that the NFT industry comes of age.

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Mensholong Lepcha

Mensholong Lepcha is a financial journalist specializing in cryptocurrencies and global equity markets. He has worked for reputed firms such as Reuters and Capital.com. Fascinated with blockchain technology, NFTs, and the contrarian school of investing, Mensholong has expertise in analyzing tokenomics, price movement, and technical details of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain networks. He has also written articles on a wide range of financial topics including commodities, forex, central bank monetary policies, and other economic news.