The Best NFT Projects of 2021 • Punks to Penguins • Benzinga Crypto

New to NFTS? You can buy NFTs with ETH from Coinbase.

Certain non fungible token (NFT) investments have vastly outperformed cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Dogecoin (DOGE) in the past months. Celebrities among the likes of Mike Tyson, Jay-Z and Gary Vee have bought NFTs and shown them off on their Twitter profiles, increasing the demand for limited-edition tokenized art. Learn more about the NFT craze and how you can start investing today.

What are NFTs?

To understand what non fungible tokens are, you need to learn the difference between fungible and non fungible assets. Fungible assets are items that can be directly interchanged for each other, such as an ounce of gold, a Bitcoin, a barrel of oil or the U.S. dollar. 

Non Fungible assets are assets which aren’t interchangeable for each other. Some non fungible assets are plots of land, art and trading cards. Through tokenizing non fungible assets on the blockchain, users can verify the authenticity of the digital asset they’re buying.

It’s important to note that a non fungible token by itself has no value. The value accrued from NFTs is from the media attached to it. For example, a CryptoPunk NFT is just as valuable as the CryptoPunk art, and a plot of land on Decentraland accrues value from the location and size of the land. 

Are Non Fungible Tokens a Bubble?

Sought-after NFTs are going for huge money. At the time of writing, the least expensive CryptoPunk you can get your hands on will cost you around 40 ETH, or $120,000 for those of you who still denominate value in fiat currency terms. These prices are for the cheapest Punks on the market. If you want an Alien or Ape Punk, you’ll need around 1000 ETH (about $3 million).

With prices this high, it’s hard to not acknowledge the possibility of a bubble. However, CryptoPunks have been ingrained into art culture in a short amount of time, with Sotheby’s and Christie’s Art House both hosting auctions for CryptoPunks. Also, CryptoPunks were among the 1st NFTs on Ethereum, so investors see this as a historic project within the cryptocurrency industry.

It’s important to do your own research before investing in a non fungible token. These projects can be hard to value, and many NFTs are illiquid, meaning you may have a hard time selling your collectible in the future. Undoubtedly, many NFT projects will fail, leaving investors with a worthless JPEG.

Best NFT Projects to Invest in for 2021

CryptoPunks were created in 2017 as the 1st non fungible token project on Ethereum. Each punk was algorithmically generated, and the collectibles were limited to 10,000 Punks. Human Punks are the most common, but there are other species of Punks. There are just 9 Alien Punks, 24 Ape Punks and 88 Zombie Punks. Alien Punks have fetched over $8 million dollars on auction.

Most Recent Alien Punk Sold: $8.06 Million

Axies are the creatures used to play the popular blockchain-based game Axie Infinity. You need 3 Axies to play the game, so as the platform attracts more users the price of Axies will naturally increase. Axies vary in price depending on their attributes, but you can pick one up today for around $200. 

Bored Ape Yacht Club is similar to CryptoPunks in that these NFTs are commonly used as online avatars. The project features cartoon apes that have different attributes and rarities, and the cheapest Apes cost about 6 ETH. Around a month ago you could get your hands on an Ape for around 1 ETH, making this project 1 of the fastest-appreciating NFT collectibles in the industry.

Bored Ape Yacht Club recently sold for 400 ETH ($1.3M)

Meebits was launched by Larva Labs — the same company that made CryptoPunks. At the time of release, Meebits sold for around 2.4 ETH. Today, prices range from 2 ETH up to 100s of ETH, depending on the rarity of the Meebit. Meebits are intended to be used in the metaverse, as they’re 3-dimensional characters that can be used in open world blockchain applications. 

Proof of Beauty is an innovative NFT project focused on documenting and celebrating the history of the Ethereum blockchain. Proof of Beauty’s first NFT series, HASH, allows users to take personal and historical blockchain transactions and turn them into beautiful NFT artworks. From Vitalik’s first Ethereum transaction to Jay Z’s Cryptopunk purchase, Proof of Beauty’s algorithm integrates the transaction metadata into color pallets, shapes and textures. Proof of Beauty’s second series, LONDON, is a sold-out collection of 8,888 generative art pieces. The London gift NFTs became available during the hard fork, and the first transaction that occurred post the EIP-1559 upgrade was a London NFT sale. Proof of Beauty began by documenting Ethereum history, and then they created it themselves. You can create your own Proof of Beauty here.

Proof of beauty NFT

A Proof of Beauty London Gift

Sirens of The Sea: These NFTs are made by the Bored Bananas team, and each Siren will have future in-game utility on Bored Banana Island. Sirens are a very new project on Ethereum, so there’s higher potential returns than other, more established, NFT projects. You can pick up a Siren of The Sea for less than 0.1 ETH for a common Siren, while rare skins fetch higher prices. The only way to mint a Siren is with a Bored Banana NFT, but you can also buy them on the OpenSea marketplace.

Bored Bananas Twitter account is giving away a rare golden Siren of The Sea, and the winner will be chosen on August 21, 2021.

Virtual Reality Land is one of the most unique ways to invest in nonfungible tokens. The 2 most robust virtual reality ecosystems where you can buy and sell land are Decentraland and The Sandbox. These platforms allow you to monetize your land through developing your real estate, and some investors have made casinos, amusement parks and NFT museums to monetize their land. Others simply buy this virtual reality land as a speculative investment to sell at a later point in time.

Pudgy Penguins are the most recent NFT project to take the crypto world by storm. In August, the price floor on these adorable little guys has jumped 10x in just 7 days. The project is centered around 8,888 Pudgy Penguins. According to the lore, each Penguin “is an official member of the Pudgy Penguins community found in the freezing cold, arctic region of the metaverse.” Many crypto influencers have latched on to the Penguins for their meme value, joking around with those who try to make sense of the craze.

How to buy NFTs

The best place to buy non fungible tokens is on OpenSea. This NFT marketplace has the most non fungible tokens for sale, and you’re able to buy all of the previously mentioned NFTs through the platform. 

To use OpenSea, you’ll need 2 things: an Ethereum wallet and Ethereum tokens. The best Ethereum wallet to use with OpenSea is MetaMask. It’s easy to set up via Google Chrome and easily connects to websites through your Chrome browser. If you don’t already have a cryptocurrency exchange account, you’ll need to make one to buy Ethereum. 

Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Ethereum

Because Ethereum is the most widely used currency to buy and sell NFTs, you’ll need to purchase some on a cryptocurrency exchange. Some of the most secure and robust exchanges that support Ethereum include Coinbase, Gemini and Crypto.com. 

1 Minute Review

Coinbase is one of the Internet’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms. From Bitcoin to Litecoin or Basic Attention Token to Chainlink, Coinbase makes it exceptionally simple to buy and sell major cryptocurrency pairs. 

You can even earn cryptocurrency rewards through Coinbase’s unique Coinbase Earn feature. More advanced traders will love the Coinbase Pro platform, which offers more order types and enhanced functionality.

Though Coinbase doesn’t offer the most affordable pricing or the lowest fees, its simple platform is easy enough for complete beginners to master in as little as a single trade.

Best For

  • New cryptocurrency traders
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in major pairs
  • Cryptocurrency traders interested in a simple platform
Pros

  • Simple platform is easy to operate
  • Comprehensive mobile app mirrors desktop functionality
  • Coinbase Earn feature rewards you with crypto for learning about available coins
Cons

  • Higher fees than competitors

1 Minute Review

Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that offers investors access to 26 coins and tokens. Founded in the US, Gemini is expanding globally, in particular into Europe and Asia. Offerings include both major cryptocurrency projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and smaller altcoins like Orchid and 0x.

Gemini is 1 of the only brokers with multiple platform options based on skill level. New investors will love the streamlined interface of Gemini’s mobile and web apps, while advanced investors might appreciate all the tools that come with ActiveTrader. 

In addition to a host of platform choices, Gemini users also have access to insured hot wallets to store tokens without worrying about digital asset theft. Learn more about what Gemini can do for you in our review.

Best For

  • New investors looking for a simple mobile and web app
  • Experienced investors who need a more advanced platform with more tools
  • Users looking for a 1-stop-shop to buy, sell and store all of their coins
Pros

  • Easy and quick signups — can get started in as little as a few minutes
  • Multitude of platforms to accommodate traders of all skill levels
  • Hot wallets include insurance to protect your from theft and hacking attempts
Cons

  • Charges both a commission and a convenience fee for users buying and selling through the desktop or mobile app

1 Minute Review

Voyager is a leading name in the sphere of cryptocurrency investing, giving you access to over 50 tokens and coins. Buy, sell and swap assets using Voyager Crypto’s simple mobile platform available as a free download for iOS and Android users. 

When you invest through Voyager, you’ll pay nothing in commissions, which is a major benefit when compared to other cryptocurrency brokers. Voyager is also one of the only brokers we’ve seen that allows users to earn interest on their crypto investments. 

Though the broker could do more to improve its customer service, it’s an excellent option for beginner investors and seasoned professionals alike.

Best For

  • Cryptocurrency investors looking for a wide selection of supported projects.
  • Investors who prefer mobile trading.
  • Anyone interested in earning interest on their crypto investments.
Pros

  • Simple, straightforward and intuitive mobile platform
  • Wealth of investment opportunities
  • Allows users to earn interest on select crypto investments
Cons

  • Only available for mobile users — no desktop platform
  • Limited routes to contact customer service team

1 Minute Review

Crypto.com strives to make cryptocurrency a part of everyday life by offering a full suite of services for crypto users. The company offers a Crypto.com App, Exchange, Visa Card, DeFi swap, DeFi Wallet, DeFi Earn, Crypto.com Price, staking, crypto lending, and many other services. What really sets them apart, however, is the combination of super low fees and incredibly generous rewards programs for their users.

Best For

  • Traders who want access to a secure, low-cost cryptocurrency exchange
  • Passive investors who want to earn interest on their balance without frequent trading
  • Mobile investors who prefer to handle all their crypto needs via their phone or tablet
Pros

  • Low fees
  • High security
  • One-stop shop for all your crypto needs (wallet, trading, spending, and more)
  • Lots of ways to earn interest, rewards, and rebates
Cons

  • Low privacy
  • Customer service response time could be improved

Fractional Shares of CryptoPunks

If you aren’t willing to shell out thousands of dollars for a CryptoPunk, Unicly is a platform where you can buy fractional shares of a collection of 50 CryptoPunks. Although you won’t directly own a Punk to flex with on Twitter, this is a great way to gain exposure to NFTs without breaking the bank.

To use Unicly, you’ll need to connect your MetaMask (or other compatible ETH wallet) to its website. From there, you can purchase these shares, called uPunks, with Ethereum tokens.

Cryptocurrency Price Movements

Even though the cryptocurrency markets have seen a significant downturn in recent months, NFTs are still appreciating in value. Bitcoin is currently down about 50% from its all-time high prices. While bearish investors think this is only the beginning of a longer-term bear market, many crypto enthusiasts see this as an overdue correction before we go even higher. 

How to Store NFTs Safely

If you’re investing a significant sum of money into CryptoPunk, Meebit or other NFTs, then you should consider a secure storage solution for your tokens. While MetaMask is generally regarded as safe, people have had their accounts hacked because the wallet is connected to the internet.

A hardware wallet is the solution for this. Hardware wallets like the Ledger Nano S store thousands of cryptocurrencies, including non fungible tokens. These devices store your cryptocurrency offline, making it impossible for your funds to be stolen through the internet. 

The Future of Non Fungible Tokens

Humans are naturally drawn to flaunting their wealth, whether it be through expensive watches, exotic cars or, now, NFTs. Non fungible tokens offer a novel way to verify the authenticity of rare and expensive items, making it easy to let everyone know you spent thousands of dollars on a JPEG.

It’s likely that notable projects will survive in the long run, but it’s clear that there’s a lot of hype around NFTs at the moment. If you plan on investing in NFTs, make sure you do your own research and only invest what you can afford to lose.

Disclosure: Authors may own non-fungible tokens in this article. Make sure to do your own research before making any investments with your hard-earned money.

Benzinga crafted a specific methodology to rank cryptocurrency exchanges and tools. We prioritized platforms based on offerings, pricing and promotions, customer service, mobile app, user experience and benefits, and security. To see a comprehensive breakdown of our methodology, please visit see our Cryptocurrency Methodology page.

Gemini builds crypto products to help you buy, sell, and store your bitcoin and cryptocurrency. You can buy bitcoin and crypto instantly and access all the tools you need to understand the crypto market and start investing, all through one clear, attractive interface. Gemini Crypto Platform offers excellent account management options. You can manage your account at a glance, view your account balance 24-hour changes and percent changes. Get started with Gemini now.

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