• In 2021, the trading volume on OpenSea increased 646 times

  • The NFT marketplace OpenSea has recorded a massive $14 billion in trade volume in 2021, considerably exceeding its performance of $21.7 million in 2020.

    The Year of OpenSea

    The year 2021 will be remembered as the year of NFTs—and OpenSea.

    OpenSea will end the year with a total trading volume of more than $14 billion. According to Token Terminal data, the biggest NFT marketplace witnessed a volume of $21.7 million in 2020, implying that trading surged by a factor of 646 this year.

    OpenSea has left its competitors in the dust as the primary venue for NFT trading, considerably exceeding trade volumes on other platforms. According to DappRadar data, the second largest platform, Rarible, handled $260 million in transactions in 2021.

    With such a high amount of transactions, OpenSea has also achieved record earnings. Every NFT bought and sold generates a 2.5 percent commission for the market. Protocol income, which includes all fees paid to OpenSea, is currently at $351.6 million for the year.

    This year, the collection that earned OpenSea the most fees was Bored Ape Yacht Club. Bored Apes, which launched in April, inaugurated a new trend of NFT animal avatar projects, building on the success of the original generative avatars, CryptoPunks. Since the project’s inception, Bored Apes has recorded a trading volume of over 280,000 ETH, or around $1.06 billion, or 6.3 percent of OpenSea’s total volume.

    Despite their recent spike in popularity, Bored Apes are still far behind CryptoPunks in terms of trading volume. Larva Labs, the project’s founders, have put up a specialized shop for CryptoPunks. CryptoPunk trades currently amount approximately 770,000 ETH, or $2.92 billion at today’s values, thanks to a four-year head start. However, this is primarily due to the lower ETH price in the early days of CryptoPunk trading.

    The current surge in Metaverse projects has also aided OpenSea’s exponential income growth. Decentraland, an online Metaverse project in which participants can own virtual land NFTs, is now the platform’s second most traded collection, worth 246,100 ETH or $933 million.

    OpenSea’s success this year, however, has not been without controversy. Nate Chastain, the platform’s Head of Product, was exposed by the crypto community for insider trading in September and resigned as a result. Chastain was caught buying NFTs from collections that were supposed to be advertised on the site’s front page, only to dump them on the market after the fact, reaping significant profits.

    OpenSea was also chastised at the start of December when the company’s new CFO, Brian Roberts, hinted at going public via an Initial Public Offering. Several notable members of the NFT community expressed dissatisfaction with the decision, stating that OpenSea was abandoning its customers.

    These OpenSea problems, combined with the high 2.5 percent commission on trades, have fueled plans to build a more decentralized, community-driven alternative to the major NFT marketplace. So yet, none have emerged as a serious threat to OpenSea’s predominance, but dissatisfaction among key figures in the NFT community remains high.

    While OpenSea’s parabolic expansion in 2021 astounded many, next year could be even greater. Trading volumes on OpenSea only began to pick up in the middle of the year, with the company collecting more than 94 percent of its revenue between August and December. If OpenSea can maintain similar daily revenues and trading volumes next year, 2022 might be another record-breaking year.

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