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Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks and visual features

06/01/2021
by   Matthieu Nadini, et al.
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Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are digital assets that represent objects like art, videos, in-game items and music. They are traded online, often with cryptocurrency, and they are generally encoded as smart contracts on a blockchain. Media and public attention towards NFTs has exploded in 2021, when the NFT art market has experienced record sales while celebrated new star artists. However, little is known about the overall structure and evolution of the NFT market. Here, we analyse data concerning 6.1 million trades of 4.7 million NFTs generating a total trading volume of 935 millions US dollars. Our data are obtained primarily from the Ethereum and WAX blockchains and cover the period between June 23, 2017 and April 27, 2021. First, we characterize the statistical properties of the market. Second, we build the network of interactions and show that traders have bursts of activity followed by inactive periods, and typically specialize on NFTs associated to similar objects. Third, we cluster objects associated to NFTs according to their visual features and show that NFTs within the same category tend to be visually homogeneous. Finally, we investigate the predictability of NFT sales. We use simple machine learning algorithms and find that prices can be best predicted by the sale history of the NFT collection, but also by some features describing the properties of the associated object (e.g., visual features of digital images). We anticipate that our analysis will be of interest to both researchers and practitioners and will spark further research on the NFT production, adoption and trading in different contexts.

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