Can You Buy an NFT for a Hundred Swiss Francs? A Self-Experiment, Part 2

Can You Buy an NFT for a Hundred Swiss Francs? A Self-Experiment, Part 2

Is it possible to buy an NFT for 100 Swiss francs or less? In the first part of this story, I got derailed by the exorbitant fees on the Ethereum blockchain. I’ll give it a try now on Solana. Will it work this time?

I had a plan: I wanted to buy an NFT for 100 Swiss francs. “That can’t be too hard,” I thought – erroneously. In the end, I wasn’t just left empty-handed without an NFT, but I had also made a bunch of beginner’s mistakes and thus already lost 40% of my starting capital. If you haven’t yet read the first part of my story, you can find it here.

My somewhat hasty attempt last week to buy an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain ran aground. The high “gas fees”, or transaction fees, there dashed my plans. So, I switched to an alternative blockchain: Solana.

Solana is reputedly less expensive because it uses a different kind of transaction validation algorithm. Instead of using a “proof of work” process, Solana employs a “proof of stake” algorithm. Proof-of-stake validation – which even Ethereum intends to switch to in the near future, by the way – requires much less computing power. Transaction fees therefore are very low. Or so I hope, because the events of the past week have shown that nothing in this whole story is as simple as it seems. After having shuffled my money back and forth several times between different wallets, cryptoexchanges, and cryptocurrency brokers, paying a fee at each step, I have 61 francs left from my original 100. They’re parked in an account on the FTX cryptoexchange converted into 0.3 Solana. After a one-week waiting period, I can now transfer my Solana from FTX to my Phantom wallet.

How Do You Transfer Cryptocurrency?

Transferring cryptocurrency from one account to another proceeds a bit differently than a conventional banking transaction. All that FTX needs to execute a remittance is my wallet address, which is a code consisting of upward of 20 characters. If I enter the wrong address, my money disappears. So, I type in the code very carefully and after a few seconds am relieved to see that the full amount of 0.3 Solana has been credited to my Phantom wallet. Now I’m good to go.

Caught Up in the Crypto Bubble

As a digital native, I spend a lot of time – sometimes too much time – on social media. The research I did for the first part of this story evidently didn’t go unnoticed by Instagram and the like because since a couple of days ago, my YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook feeds have been overflowing with NFT- and crypto-related content. Memes, investment tips, Tik Toks – you name it. Meanwhile, I also have been receiving daily messages from random fake profiles that want to invite me to join their pump-and-dump group, that point me to the next big NFT drop, or that tell me that I absolutely have to get in touch with their boss, who typically likes to pose with beautiful women and fast cars, to learn more about cryptos (for a princely fee, of course).

And although I consider most of the content displayed to me total rubbish, I often find myself scrolling farther and farther down out of – I don’t know – boredom, curiosity, or maybe a lack of discipline. All I know is that I’m caught up in the crypto bubble. And by now I also understand how people can completely get lost in it.

What Is an NFT Drop?

One thing that definitely piques my curiosity are NFT drops, the initial issuance of NFTs for sale. An NFT drop essentially is similar to a stock IPO. However, when you buy into a collection at its drop, you don’t know beforehand precisely which NFT you’ll get. You can picture it as kind of like buying collectable cards. You purchase a pack and know that you’ll be getting Panini soccer stickers or Pokémon cards, for example, but you don’t know exactly which ones in advance. Maybe you’ll get lucky and draw world soccer star Lionel Messi or an awesome Pokémon like Charizard. But, then again, maybe you’ll only end up with Austria’s second-string goalkeeper or the ridiculous fish Magikarp.

Do you remember the Bored Ape Yacht Club from the first part of my story? That collection was dropped in April 2021. The price for one of the 10,000 apes minted stood at 300 US dollars at that time. Today, just nine months later, the cheapest ape costs well over 200,000 US dollars. Extremely rare specimens fetch even several million US dollars.

Directly buying into an initial NFT offering can have advantages – just like with a stock IPO. The biggest profits often arise when you buy into a popular collection right from its inception and your NFT’s price climbs sharply afterwards in secondary trading.

There are a number of different websites that provide information about upcoming Solana NFT projects. I find a few projects there that are within my budget, but most of them look very amateurish to me. They often lack their own website, or sometimes a project has only a handful of followers on Twitter – and sometimes I simply don’t like the NFTs. All the ones that look promising exceed my budget of 0.3 Solana. I decide not to participate in a drop.

Where Do You Buy NFTs on Solana?

So, I’ll buy an NFT from an existing collection. There isn’t a marketplace on the Solana blockchain that holds a similar monopoly position like OpenSea does on the Ethereum blockchain. Instead, there are multiple marketplaces, all of which are still relatively young. YouTube – a recurring source in my research – can’t definitively tell me which one is the best. I decide to scout around on the three biggest marketplaces: SolSea, Solanart, and Magic Eden. As I view some of the most popular collections on Solana, one thing strikes me right away: many of them resemble famous NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain. The Degenerate Ape Academy bears a close resemblance to the Bored Ape Yacht Club, and SolPunks look a lot like CryptoPunks – they’re just a lot cheaper. But at 4,900 Swiss francs for a Degenerate Ape and 1,000 francs for a SolPunk, they’re still way out of my budget’s league.

I need something less expensive. To narrow down my search a bit from the outset, I filter only for 3D NFT art collections. Why? Because I simply like 3D art more than 2D or pixel art. In the event that my NFT can’t finance a Lamborghini within a week’s time, I at least want something nice to look at.

NFTs for a Good Cause

As I start the search, I discover to my relief that there are plenty of NFT projects that I could theoretically afford with my remaining 61 francs. I then spend a lot of time checking out websites, comparing Twitter followerships, and gauging the vibe of communities in various chats on Discord. And there’s one collection that I stumble across again and again: Whales Nation.

Whales Nation, as the name implies, is a collection of whales – 5,555 of them in total. The project has committed itself to spending part of its revenue on whale conservation. For example, 10% of all royalties on purchases and sales of the NFTs go to the non-profit Save the Whales organization, which has been fighting to protect our oceans and their inhabitants for over 40 years. NFTs for a good cause – I think that’s terrific.

My Odyssey Comes to an End

At the drop, each whale cost one Solana token, a sum equal to around 200 francs. All 5,555 whales sold out within seven minutes. Whoever had bad luck at that time and got one of the less rare whales has lost money as of today. The starting price for a whale right now stands at 0.21 Solana. Altogether, there are around 15 whales currently for sale that cost less than 0.3 Solana. Fortunately, there are tools to ascertain the rarity of an NFT within a collection. Since the rarest whale by far out of those 15 is also the second-cheapest one, I don’t ponder it much longer and pounce on it. The transaction takes only a few seconds, and the fees I pay cost next to nothing.

At last! After all of the missteps, detours, and tribulations, in the end I managed to get my hands on an NFT. I paid 0.23 Solana, or a little less than 50 francs, to acquire it. I thus can conclusively answer my research question (Can you buy an NFT for a hundred Swiss francs?) with a “yes.”

Now, allow me to introduce you to my very first NFT: Whales Nation #1429. 

My very first NFT: Whales Nation #1429 from the Whales Nation NFT collection

My very first NFT: Whales Nation #1429

Cool, huh? What I like most about it is its “frozen skin,” an attribute that fewer than 1% of all whales possess. I also like the “fire” background. Less than 5% of all Whales Nation NFTs have that feature, making my whale an NFT with scarcity value.

I am now an official member of the Whales Nation community and have access to exclusive chats on Discord, where the community can have a say in the project’s plans for the future and can submit suggestions. In addition, contests and quizzes are conducted for prizes, which mostly are more NFTs.

Progeny for My Whale

I have taken part in one quiz thus far. It sort of obviously had to do with whales. But the competition was too tough for me. I unfortunately didn’t win anything. And I also came away empty-handed from the raffle of 50 extremely rare orca NFTs. But this doesn’t mean that owning a Whales Nation NFT hasn’t brought me any benefits to date because as the owner of a whale, I got an opportunity in mid-January to put my name on a whitelist for a free Baby Whale airdrop. An airdrop is a free distribution of cryptocurrency, tokens or NFTs to a wallet address. So if everything goes according to plan, I will receive my free Baby Whale on February 2nd. And after just a few days of it being in my possession, my whale will thus already produce offspring.

A sneak peak of a Baby Whale NFT

A sneak peak of a Baby Whale NFT

Baby Whales will be an offshoot collection of Whales Nation. They can also be bought by people, who don’t possess a Whales Nation NFT. The minting price will be at 0.5 Solana. Getting my baby whale is basically like receiving a dividend. But I don’t want to sell my NFTs for the time being. I enjoy being part of the community, and I’m sort of excited to see what the future holds in store.

Simpler Solutions Are Needed

My experiment is thus officially over. My conclusion is that you should dedicate ample time to doing some research before lunging headlong into the world of NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Or simply read my two blogposts – then at least you won’t make the same beginner’s mistakes that I did.

Although the hype around NFTs truly exploded in 2021, it nevertheless is still hard for a layperson to buy one. To bring NFTs to the masses, simpler solutions are needed from financial institutions or crypto brokers. The demand certainly exists. And if that’s the case, it usually doesn’t take the market long to start offering solutions. So, it’s quite possible that the average Joe will soon be able to buy NFTs a lot more easily.

As with all investments, the general rule is to proceed with caution. Since I only invested 100 francs, I could certainly afford it if I lost them all. Because make no mistake, a lot of people lose money on NFTs. Getting in on the ground floor of projects whose NFTs see their value quickly rocket by thousands of percentage points takes a little bit of skill and whole lot of luck.

A Lambo on top

What did I get out of my experiment? Well, I now own a whale – and in one week I will own two. Will they soon finance my purchase of a Lamborghini the way I fantasized they would in the first part of my story? It’s not impossible, but it isn’t likely. But hey, I learned a lot over the course of my experiment. So, will I buy more NFTs? Quite possibly. Anyway, in the wake of my self-experiment, I now know more about NFTs than most people on this planet do. It would be silly of me not to cash in on my knowledge.

And about that Lamborghini, there’s something I haven’t disclosed to you yet. My whale only cost 0.23 Solana, which means that I had 0.07 Solana left over. As an experienced investor, I of course know that it makes little sense to leave my money just sitting in an account. So, I bought this with the rest of my funds:

A picture of my Lamborghini NFT - Crypto Carz #2793

My second NFT: Crypto Carz #2793

I know, it’s a little garish, but at a price of only eight francs, I just had to snatch it up. In the chat over on Discord, they’re philosophizing about how the price of a digital Lambo should one day correlate with the price of a real Lamborghini. Well then, I guess I’ll wait and see.

Image source: mundissima/