How Cardano developers becoming widely successful at minting NFTs

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Cardano creators have discovered ways to mint and market NFT collectibles even without smart contract features.

Given the fact that layer-one smart contracts are not yet functional, intrepid Cardano developers have recently hacked together methods to mint bootleg nonfungible tokens. These experiments in hosting specific data on the blockchain are reminiscent of Ethereum’s pre-ERC-721 standard age — and, so far, they’ve proved to be incredibly successful, with token drops regularly selling out.

ADA Technology Management (ATM), a Cardano staking pool provider, announced what they believed to be two NFT photos they’d minted on the chain in a Reddit article today. The company claimed in the thread that they plan to provide NFT minting as a service to pool delegators.

However, there are a few caveats to the so-called NFTs. Since Cardano does not yet accept smart contracts or have an NFT token standard, users must mint a one-of-one native token in order to generate an NFT.

“Tokens on Cardano are native and are on the same level as ADA. Instead of smart contracts, so called “minting policies” control the flow of a certain token group. NFTs are basically tokens on Cardano with a quantity of 1,” explained Alessandro, the self-described “brains” behind SpaceBudz, a Cardano-native collectibles project and the author of a Cardano Improvement Proposal to establish a Cardano NFT metadata standard.

Developers can then embed in the token metadata a link to an Arweave and/or InterPlanetary File System address where an image is stored. One example NFT shows that the “metadata” section of a mint transaction includes a link to a IPFS address which displays the associated SpaceBud. The end result is a wholly unique token permanently recorded and transferrable on the Cardano blockchain — a NFT by many, if not all, definitions.

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Thriving community

Despite the extra hoops developers have to jump through to create them, the NFTs have proven to be enormously popular with users.

According to Alessandro, SpaceBudz sold out all 10,000 NFTs in just three days at a price of 50 ADA per, and there’s already an eager secondary market where especially rare SpaceBudz have sold for as high as $40,000.

Even before SpaceBudz, CardanoKidz was working on Cardano-native NFTs as early as August 2020. Multiple pre-sale rounds sold out “within hours of launch,” according to Zac, a member of the CardanoKidz marketing team. One Satoshi-inspired Kid sold for 32,000 ADA even before the tokens were minted, and the NFTs themselves went live in late March.

Zac credits tools like a community-developed token and minting policy tracker for helping to make developers’ lives easier. The official Cardano developers, IOHK, appear to be embracing the new vertical as well, as lead engineer Polina Vinogravoda gave a quick tutorial on minting NFTs on the chain on Tuesday.

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A slew of other projects, including the CryptoPunk-inspired CardanoBits and the minting site CNFT, round out the fledgeling ecosystem. Although still rudimentary, NFTs on Cardano are still less expensive than those on Ethereum: minting a native token costs only 2 ADA, or $2.50.

Although the developers of this fledgeling group have made it so far, they are eager for smart contracts to make their lives simpler.

“We can’t wait for smart contracts to arrive for more functionality but we had JUST enough tools and experience to make NFTs work on Cardano,” said Zac. “It’s been an incredible journey so far.”

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