Tezos has become one of the world’s most popular blockchains for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Over the course of 2021, there was a significant increase in concern regarding the environmental impact of NFTs and blockchain technologies. As such, much of Tezos’ rise can be attributed to its reputation as a green alternative to far more energy-intensive blockchains. This was particularly true before the September 2022 Ethereum merge, which saw that chain’s energy consumption drop by a staggering 99.5 percent.
Of course, there are also scaling factors to take into account when considering Tezos’ growing popularity. Thanks to its fast and cheap transactions, where many other blockchains struggle, Tezos excels. The chain is billed as a blockchain that is “designed to evolve,” with a focus on security and an array of upgradeable features.
But onboarding to new blockchains and NFT ecosystems is never easy, which is why we’re here to help. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to participate seamlessly in the Tezos ecosystem. Here, we take a deep dive into what Tezos is, how it works, why there’s so much interest in Tezos crypto and NFTs, and how you can make the most out of it all.
What is the Tezos blockchain?
Tezos, first proposed in 2014, was created by wife and husband Kathleen and Arthur Breitman. At its core, Tezos is an open-source platform for assets and applications. It’s similar to other blockchains in that it’s a platform to create smart contracts and build decentralized applications (dApps).
Tezos’ native cryptocurrency is XTZ. Despite the blockchain’s popularity for NFTs, its crypto ranks around 40th in terms of market cap (as of October 2022). Yet, what Tezos may lack in market prominence, it makes up for with innovation.
One of the most unique and interesting aspects of the Tezos blockchain is its ability to self-amend. In short, it can improve itself over time by using a formalized process to upgrade its protocol. Many blockchains lack formal governance structures. As a result, decisions are often made by a small group and imposed on the whole ecosystem.
Tezos has on-chain mechanisms for proposing, selecting, testing, and activating protocol. These features, paired with the fact that Tezos has been incentivizing developers to build dApps on the platform since its first days in operation, have positioned the blockchain as a leader in operability. It can reach consensus and scale quickly while remaining safe and reliable.
And just as NFTs began booming in early 2021, so did the NFT use case for Tezos. However, its rise to popularity wasn’t without its ups and downs.
One of the first marketplaces on the Tezos blockchain was Hic et Nunc. At the time, it was heralded as an economical alternative to Ethereum-centric marketplaces. But the platform shut down suddenly on November 14, 2021. The marketplace’s official accounts did not explain the unexpected closure. Fortunately, the NFTs that were listed there are immutable, as they are recorded on the blockchain itself.
Others picked up the cause and created new ways to mint and trade on Tezos. Many of the NFTs that initially went to market on Hic et Nunc are now listed on these other marketplaces — and Tezos is still considered one of the best and most sound chains for trading NFTs.
How does Tezos work?
Tezos runs on a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, as opposed to the Proof-of-Work (PoW) mechanisms used by other blockchains. Until recently, Ethereum also ran on PoW. Though it switched to a PoS consensus system after the merge, it ran for most of its existence on PoW and was one of the main reasons environmentally-conscious Web3 users sought out chains like Tezos.
Herein lies the origin of both Tezos’ ecological and economical selling points. PoW requires computers to compete with one another to solve complex puzzles to add blocks and transactions to the blockchain. It’s one method of getting around the problem of not having a decentralized authority to validate transactions in the network. As such, blockchains that use PoW require a lot of computer power — meaning a lot of energy — to work. How much energy, exactly? Well, prior to the Ethereum merge, that blockchain’s energy consumption was comparable to that of several small European nations’.
PoS, on the other hand, allows users to stake an amount of their cryptocurrency for the chance to be randomly chosen as a block validator. This type of mechanism rewards loyalty while reducing the computational work needed to verify blocks and transactions on the blockchain. Because of this, Tezos runs efficiently and charges much lower fees than other blockchains.
How to buy and sell crypto on Tezos
Of course, if you’re hoping to trade XTZ, you’ll need a Tezos wallet. While hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor remain solid and secure solutions for storing any sort of crypto, Temple Wallet and Kukai Wallet are the most popular wallets for trading crypto and NFTs on Tezos. And they’re just as easy (if not easier) to install than any of the other popular NFT wallets.
Now that you have your wallet, where should you buy your Tezos crypto? Fortunately, you have many options.
Although XTZ, Tezos’ native cryptocurrency, isn’t the most popular crypto to trade, it is still available to buy and sell on nearly every major centralized and decentralized exchange. You can buy Tezos with Coinbase, Binance, and a host of other platforms. Centralized exchanges are generally the easiest to navigate and use, so they are better for beginners. Of course, you can also use a decentralized exchange (DEX). These are generally just like centralized exchanges, except that they are distributed across a network of computers and don’t run on a centralized server.
As a result, they aren’t subject to regulation. Then there are crypto brokers. These are centralized providers that act as an intermediary between a user and the cryptocurrency markets to facilitate cryptocurrency trades. As a result, users aren’t trading with each other based on current market prices. Instead, the price is set by the broker.
It’s better to investigate decentralized exchanges and brokers once you are more familiar with blockchain tech and know how to protect yourself when using it. But either way, before you run off to make a purchase, make sure you read our complete guide to crypto exchanges here.
How to make and mint a Tezos NFT
Minting NFTs on the Tezos blockchain is about the same as minting on Ethereum or Solana. As is the case with other blockchains, you’ll need to have a wallet set up before you begin. You’ll also need to deposit at least a few dollars worth of the blockchain’s native crypto (in this case, XTZ) into your wallet to cover minting and other transaction fees.
Don’t fret about the price, though. As mentioned above, Tezos’ fees are far less expensive than that of the Ethereum blockchain. The cost obviously fluctuates a bit. But at current prices, minting an NFT on Tezos costs around $0.20. When minting on Objkt, Tezos’ most popular NFT marketplace, creating an entire NFT collection and smart contract will only cost you around 1 XTZ (around $1.50). This has helped lower the barrier to entry for artists around the world who seek to mint NFTs.
The type of NFT you wish to mint will ultimately determine where you will be most successful minting it. So, your next steps will be to determine what kind of NFT you want to mint. You’ll also need to consider if you want to create a 1/1 (one-of-one) or an edition (multiple copies of the same NFT). If what you’re after is to mint a large-supply NFT collection similar to CryptoPunks or Bored Apes, you might want to consider teaming up with an artist and developer before diving into an undertaking of that magnitude. Once all is said and done, and you have your JPEG or another asset ready to turn into an NFT, you’ll need to find the right platform to mint on.
Tezos NFT marketplaces
As with other blockchains, there is a diverse range of places for enthusiasts to trade NFTs on Tezos. Although there aren’t as many medium-specific marketplaces (akin to the music and photo NFT platforms of Ethereum), Tezos marketplaces host a wide variety of small-batch to large-scale collections.
Currently, Objkt is the largest and most popular marketplace on the Tezos chain. In a way, it’s a bit like the OpenSea for Tezos NFTs, hosting everything from JPEGs to videos and songs. Originally, the aforementioned Hic et Nunc held the title of most popular, but when the platform was discontinued in Nov. 2021, Objkt quickly took over.
A close second to Objkt would undoubtedly be Teia. This relatively young marketplace was created in the image of Hic et Nunc shortly after it was shut down. It’s a community-owned platform that looks and operates very similar to that of the late Hic et Nunc, and it has been quickly gaining popularity since launching in February of 2022.
Kalamint — one of the first Tezos NFT marketplaces to ever exist — is another notable minting and trading platform. Founded in 2020, Kalamint has remained a popular choice among the collectibles crowd. Although in 2022, it isn’t as booming as it once was, Web3 enthusiasts still regularly trade art, collectibles, and photography on the platform.
A marketplace that specializes in music and sports memorabilia is OneOf. It was founded in partnership with Quincy Jones, and the company has secured partnerships with the Grammys, Warner Music Group, and other major players in the space. OneOf has helped produce notable projects including the Notorious B.I.G. NFT collection and the Sports Illustrated x Muhammad Ali NFT collection.
Each platform offers a straightforward, beginner-friendly minting process that includes comprehensive step-by-step instructions. This means you won’t have to worry about writing your own smart contract or interacting directly with the network. Minting on most Tezos marketplaces is about as easy as signing up for a social media account or shopping online.
NFT Projects on Tezos
Better known for its homegrown artist community than its individual projects, Tezos is a treasure trove for 1/1 and limited-edition artworks. It has even attracted surprise drops from Ethereum heavyweights like XCOPY and Blake Kathryn. And while Tezos PFPs haven’t achieved market dominance quite at the same level as Ethereum avatar projects, there are still quite a few great large-scale Tezos projects to look out for. Here are a few:
Tezzards is a collection of 4,200 “snazzy” lizard-inspired PFP NFTs. Although numerous avatar collectibles have been minted on Tezos over the years, Tezzards is possibly the first PFP project to truly take off on the blockchain — receiving widespread support and garnering regular trading throughout the NFT space.
Fxhash is both a generative art platform and marketplace. It lives as an open platform where artists can mint generative NFTs without having to jump through the hoops of traditional generative platforms. The philosophy of fxhash has been described by its creators as “to provide a framework so that generative artists can have a space in which they can mint their pieces meant to be generative. No curation, open to everyone.”
Dogami is both an NFT collection and a metaverse game. With Dogami, users can collect a 3D dog-themed NFT that they can raise, interact in AR, and even earn crypto rewards from taking care of their pet. Think Tamagotchi, but for the blockchain!
Randomly common skeles is a collection from the mind of well-known 3D artist John Karel. Karel created the perfect project to commemorate Halloween 2021: an animated collection of spooky, scary skeletons. Dubbed randomly common skeles, Karel crafted 800 traits for the collection, all evenly distributed throughout a 24-hour mint on October 31, 2021, and were available for purchase at the very reasonable price of 5 TEZ. At the time, that was roughly equivalent to $31, ensuring anyone who wanted to get in on the skeleton action could do so.
And the list goes on and on. As more creators make the switch over to Tezos, the possibilities of what can be built on this green NFT blockchain alternative continue to grow exponentially.