As a biz journalist, Trine has covered finance from NY, tech from Silicon Valley, and the blockchain space.
As the average price of a Crypto Punk soars over 81,000 USD (48 USD), copycat punks are being issued daily in the NFT market. The digital art portraits of unassuming punk characters may seem woefully overpriced. But when it comes to proof of the authenticity and provenance of a piece of artwork, a Crypto Punk has more credibility than the Mona Lisa.
Crypto Punks have become the poster boy for the use case for NFTs. Each has a unique digital identifier traceable on the Ethereum blockchain, making it near impossible for forgers to sell copies. In contrast, at least seven different versions of the Mona Lisa have been sold to art collectors over the centuries. Unsurprisingly, many contenders have emerged to Crypto Punks on the Ethereum blockchain, including 3D, Bastard, Picasso, and well-dressed take-offs.
One new punk on the block Substrate Punks could be a serious rival. The digital art trades on the Polkadot ecosystem – a blockchain alternative to Ethereum. The Substrate Punks look very similar to Crypto Punks yet sell for only 50 USD on average, around the average price of a Crypto Punk two years ago. Pipe-smoking Crypto Punks are currently selling for over 7 million USD on OpenSea.
Because the Polkadot platform is in testnet, buying Substrate Punks takes a few minutes of your time, but it could be time well spent. Here's why Substrate Punks could be one of the most undervalued digital collectibles in the NFT marketplace.
Who's the Smartest Kid on the Crypto Block?
Substrate Punks take their name from a blockchain kit being used to build one powerful blockchain to rule them all. Substrate is an out-of-the-box solution for building high-performance blockchains. The Polkadot multi-chain network Kusama and the chains joining the Polkadot network, called parachains, are all built on Substrate.
Substrate gives Polkadot some very powerful features: notably, scalability and cross-chain interoperability. Through cross-chain communication, gamers can own, trade, and play with NFT-backed digital assets in other games. DeFi users can pledge assets (even a Cyber Punk or game asset NFT) on one dApp as collateral for a loan on another. All dApps benefit from powerful network effects.
Cyber Punk and Substrate Punk are actually fast friends who still share the Ethereum turf. Ethereum co-founder and former CTO Dr. Gavin Wood founded the Web 3.0 Foundation to support the development of next-generation blockchains. Out of these efforts, the building blocks of the Polkadot multi-chain emerged — the Parity Substrate to build an interoperable blockchain and ParaState kit to develop dApps for Substrate blockchains.
Substrate technologies are the Legos of the blockchain designed aimed to accelerate blockchain adoption by providing the building blocks to quickly deploy a blockchain or dApp. Developers use Substrate building blocks called pallets to quickly and easily assemble a nextgen blockchain for Polkadot and Web 3.0. ParaState is a smart contract virtual machine whose Pallet SSVM makes any Substrate blockchain Ethereum compatible so it can run Ethereum dApps.
Why Should Crypto Punks Be Worried?
Developers love Substrate. Hundreds are developing blockchains and dApps that interoperate on the Polkadot multi-chain. Tradeable gaming and DeFi assets are only the beginning of innovative cross-chain use cases being introduced. Numerous NFT platforms are building on Polkadot.
Polkadot NFT platforms are making it easy to swap your Crypto Punks for Substrate Punks NFTs, or vice versa, or even use one NFT to collateralize the purchase of another. Bondly is using the Polkadot multi-chain to turn your digital wallet into an NFT marketplace. Through the Polkadot multi-chain, the atomic swap multi-chain digital asset exchange for NFTs is able to offer a DEX, payments, escrow, insurance services, and DeFi staking in one dApp.
When considering that Treasureland, China’s largest NFT market does not list one Cyber Punk, the benefits to sellers of a global NFT market are obvious. Not coincidentally, the number one and two NFTs on Treasureland are DEGO — an NFT protocol building a parachain on Substrate to create a global NFT market for cross-chain NFT transfers.
The Substrate Punks were actually a test run for another Substrate-based NFT chain, the Unique Network, which was the winner of the BCA X KUSAMA Network 'Global Digital Art Competition.’ The six contest winners are part of China’s first crypto art exhibit by the Beijing UCCA gallery, alongside Beeple, Robert Alice, and other renowned crypto artists.
Cross-Chain NFT Marketplaces
With the ability of these NFT markets to communicate interchain, Polkadot could create one NFT marketplace to rule them all. Because Polkadot chains can communicate with each other and other non-Substrate chains, once Polkadot is live, a vibrant NFT marketplace could quickly form. Polkadot developers are currently building the bridges to allow any bridge built in any universe to migrate NFTs to and from any other existing bridges. All chains on Polkadot share security so that trust issues do not arise across cross-chain bridges.
The virtual walls of a new global NFT marketplace on Polkadot are starting to fill up with punks, pop stars, and film stars among the first NFTs. Hong Kong Polkadot-powered NFT exchange Xeno is listing the NFTs for RBW Japan, which represents some of the most popular J-Pop groups in Asia. Bondly is currently auctioning NFT images of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.
As Polkadot goes live, Crypto Punks and Substrate Punks are sure to tussle for NFT art investor attention.
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