The Top 10 Countries Most Interested in Buying NFTs
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have stormed into public consciousness this year, generating countless headlines and sending their value soaring.
According to NonFungible.com, NFT sales equaled more than $9.2 billion by late October 2021, up from $162 million at the start of the year.
That whopping rise of more than 5000% has been fuelled by the top end of sales – the number of works sold has risen by 98%, from 5.1 million to 10.1 million, in that time.
Bankless Times wanted to investigate where in the world interest in the NFT market is highest, and how it compares to interest in cryptocurrencies.
But first, in brief…
What Is an NFT?
“Non-fungible” simply means something that’s unique and cannot be replaced. A commonly-cited example is that a $10 note is fungible, whereas the Mona Lisa is non-fungible.
The “token” refers to a line of code on a blockchain – usually Ethereum – which states who owns a digital asset, just like ownership of a unit of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin is also proven by code on a blockchain.
The digital asset could be an artwork, a video, a song, a meme – and we may still be at the tip of the iceberg.
Depending on the asset, it may be possible for others to view it freely online. This aspect can be compared to viewing the Mona Lisa in an art gallery, but the token proves its ownership.
According to Khashayar Abbasi, Bankless Times contributor and founder of analysis newsletter Crypto With Kash, their appeal is four-fold.
“Firstly, buying NFTs is very simple to do. Especially as the NFT marketplaces today have such easy to use interfaces,” he explained. “They can be a very lucrative investment, as we have seen with the likes of Cryptopunks and Bored Apes. They can create a sense of community – you can become part of an exclusive group of people who own a particular NFT and this is hugely important for some investors.
“And finally, they have become a status item. Before, wealthy people would buy expensive watches to show off their wealth and only those who met them in real life would see what they were wearing. Now, you can buy an NFT, post it on social media and everyone around the world can verify 100% that it’s yours. I think we’ve just discovered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to use cases of NFTs.”
Where Are NFTs Popular?
Abbasi says that it is difficult to know exactly where the majority of NFT sales are occurring since transactions are anonymous, but Google Trends and social media sentiment give some idea.
Bankless Times used Google Trends data to look at where the topic “non-fungible token” – which includes variations in language/characters and different search terms related to the topic – was most popular.
Google makes a worldwide comparison for these searches by ranking them on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 representing the highest interest in relation to all other searches on the platform.
Interestingly, coming out on top was China – where Google is technically blocked. The most searches came from the east coast province of Zhejiang, the city of Shanghai, and Hubei province, now best-known as the home of Wuhan.
The next four spots in the top 10 were all in Asia Pacific, with high interest in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia.
Abbasi commented: “Asian countries are typically more used to cashless and digitised systems than western ones, so this could be why their adoption of NFTs has been so widespread.”
“China’s Alibaba, one of the world’s largest companies, has launched its own NFT marketplace as well.
“Meanwhile the country recently banned cryptocurrency trading, which could see crypto-keen investors move over to NFTs.”
Canada followed in sixth place, with the USA tying with the Philippines in seventh place.
Then came New Zealand, and finally, the only European destinations were Cyprus and the Netherlands.
Could NFTs Grow To Become More Popular Than Cryptocurrencies?
The market for cryptocurrencies currently dwarfs that of NFTs (their global market cap is estimated to be $2.60 trillion).
While they are intended to serve different purposes, one being a digital unit of currency and one being a digital asset, they also have much in common. They are blockchain-based, being used as an investment tool by many, and are both booming.
Bankless Times wanted to compare searches for ‘NFT’ with searches for ‘cryptocurrency’ to see how they have changed over the last year.
Japan, which has a notable NFT art market but also a highly advanced cryptocurrency market, had swung to the highest ratio of NFT searches over cryptocurrencies, as the newer market apparently surges in popularity.
Nigeria, meanwhile, had the highest ratio of cryptocurrency searches over NFTs. According to Statista figures, the country has one of the highest rates of cryptocurrency ownership in the world, but NFTs don’t appear to yet be catching up.
Digital currencies have surged in popularity in some developing countries where fiat currencies are weaker, and are sometimes used in places where overseas workers send remittances home.
On the future of the NFT world, Abbasi notes: “There is definitely a lot of froth in the NFT market, as many new projects are coming out on a daily basis. Many will go to 0, but blue chips like Cryptopunks will likely retain their value and even continue going higher.”