Ethereum currently dominates the non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) market in terms of traded volume and high-value projects, followed by its growing adversary Solana. But there is a new network that wants to make what both blockchain platforms only promise a reality: Chia. Chia had drawn attention in 2021 by introducing a new type of storage as an alternative to blockchain-based security and mining, allegedly making Chia a “sustainable” solution against Bitcoin and Ethereum. Now, the platform wants to bring that same ethos to non-fungible tokens (or NFTs). On Wednesday (29), Chia announced the release of the NFT1 standard on its mainnet, weeks after having implemented the initial NFT0 standard on the testnet. In a conversation with Decrypt, the executive director, president and chief operating officer of Chia Network, Gene Hoffman, suggested that the new NFT platform would be much more sustainable than Ethereum and much more stable than Solana, which has suffered from downtime since last year.
We’re excited to share our approach to NFTs with the Chia NFT standard. You can start testing and development with our NFT0 standard on Testnet today. We can’t wait to see the projects you build!Read more about our process and approach here:https://t.co/j4El7JRlmK— Chia Project (@chia_project) May 11, 2022
“The exciting thing is I think people are seeing this as a real opportunity to have a greener option than proof of work. [ou PoW], particularly as Ethereum may or may not have time to merge,” he said of the NFT implementation, “and a more technologically capable blockchain that has never been disrupted doesn’t hurt either.” Ethereum’s environmental impact has been widely debated amid the rise of the NFT market, and the merger that Hoffman mentioned — a migration to an energy-efficient proof of stake (or PoS) consensus model — has been in the works for years. It was scheduled for August this year, but now it can only happen in October. After criticizing Ethereum’s latest update, Hoffman spoke about his criticism of Solana: “We’ve seen Solana’s technical acumen recently and it’s not very strong.” But the longest periods of network downtime came amid overwhelming demand generated by automated robots, including a spike of six million transactions per second (or TPS) sent to try to earn an NFT. With the recent integration of NFTs, Chia appears to have not been tested to such extremes — and in turn, Solana is trying to address its scalability issues. Will Chia really be able to handle the demand of launching a new NFT project, with or without robots trying to overload the process? After all, Chia processes 30 TPS, while Solana is capable of handling thousands of transactions. Hoffman admitted that some sort of second-tier scalability solution will be needed to handle NFT emissions at a faster rate than the current TPS cap allows. But he also suggested that Chia was built for different needs than Solana, highlighting a recent post regarding the famous blockchain trilemma — that a network can only be two of three things: secure, decentralized, and scalable (or being able to to handle a reasonable amount of transactions). Chia opted for the first two. “For being a [blockchain de] First tier, which focuses on enterprise, government, and multilateral use cases, such as the World Bank’s “Climate Warehouse,” we intentionally focus on security and decentralization,” explained Hoffman. “Our network simply has an eminently different function and purpose than a network like Solana.”
Tracing compatibility with NFTs
An NFT is a blockchain-powered token that acts as a proof of governance of an item and is generally used for digital goods such as artwork, collectibles, and video game items. The NFT market expanded to $25 billion of trading volume in 2021, according to data from DappRadar, and that strength had continued into early 2022 before the recent crypto market crash, which also impacted NFTs. With the NFT1 standard, Chia Network claims that it offers improvements to the NFT functionality of Ethereum and Solana, such as providing a clearer picture of the origin of an NFT via a decentralized identifier (or DID), as well as improving the permanence of assets linked to NFTs. Chia’s Offers system also allows for direct trading of self-custody NFTs between users without an intermediary or brokerage while also honoring copyrights. “In order to drive buy-in, we know that the ability to link your identity and copyright on blockchain, and Chia Offers are new and very functional components of the future of NFTs,” said Richard Tsao, vice president of commercial development for NFTs. on Chia Network.
Chia was created by Bram Cohen, author of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol, and XCH, the network’s cryptocurrency, was released in May 2021. Instead of needing super-powerful computing hardware for a power-hungry mining model, Chia’s “proof of space and time” consensus is built around users’ storage usage. Network “farmers” — equivalent to PoW network miners — create “plots” on your hard disk (HD) or solid state disks (SSD) to help ensure the security of the blockchain platform and possibly earn token rewards in the process. Chia claims that the network uses far less power than the PoW mining models of Bitcoin or Ethereum, respectively, despite the turmoil surrounding possible junk mail from old storage drives. Cohen and other Chia representatives countered rumors about the impact of “farm” using e-waste. To mark the launch of the NFT1 standard, the Chia Network will offer up to 10,000 NFTs of Chia Friends profile pictures (or PFPs) to farmers. Chia Friends are similar to Ethereum’s popular Moonbirds project, but apparently include a wide range of pixelated creatures. NFTs will be randomly distributed among farmers who register on the Chia Friends website. Proceeds from secondary sales will be donated to the Marmot Recovery Foundation. Marmots are the favorite animal of the Chia community, according to Hoffman; the NFT Marvelous Marmots and Space Marmots collections will be released soon.
Tsao believes community-driven NFT projects will be among the early adopters of Chia’s NFT standard, along with its digital artists who are unhappy with existing platforms. Hoffman hopes that after an initial focus on art, Chia’s NFT creators will start exploring other use cases, such as video and music. He said that Chia Network started talking to huge organizations in late 2021 about the possibility of creating NFTs in Chia, but such initiatives could take a while now that the infrastructure is in place. It can take up to a year or more for big companies to enter the industry, Hoffman estimated, adding, “They’re not going to advance as fast as people.” After the buzz around the launch of XCH and “farming” on Chia in 2021, Chia Network has spent the last few months developing technology and use cases on the platform. It launched Chia Asset Tokens (CATs) — similar to Ethereum’s ERC-20 token standard — and a US dollar-pegged stablecoin called USDS in partnership with Stably, in addition to the Chia Offers system. As Hoffman mentioned, Chia Network has also partnered with the World Bank for its “Climate Warehouse” initiative, a platform for trading carbon credits. Hoffman said that Chia hovers between roughly 25 and 30 exabytes of network storage guarantee so far in 2021 — despite the current count being 22 exabytes — and at this point, the network has between 150,000 and 200,000 active farmers. And unlike many cryptocurrencies, XCH has seen a rally in the last month, having soared by 20%. With the release of the NFT1 standard, we’ll see how attractive Chia’s NFTs will be – and whether a market that could challenge big names like Ethereum and Solana could germinate over time. *Translated by Daniela Pereira do Nascimento with permission from Decrypt.co.