Can You Copy an NFT Onto a Different Blockchain?

Things can get a bit complicated when simply “copying” an NFT from one blockchain to another.

As a refresher, a blockchain is a decentralized collection of financial accounts across a peer-to-peer network. It’s used to confirm transactions without needing a central governing body, allowing users to make transactions without a third party. 

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are unique cryptographic tokens that exist on a blockchain and cannot be replicated. They come in the form of NFT art, music, in-game collectibles, and much more. 

Although someone can duplicate an image of an NFT, the code confirms the actual ownership of an NFT. Think of NFTs like a piece of art in a museum. Although the art can be replicated, the museum holds the official ownership rights of the original piece. 

Currently, the NFT market is dominated by Ethereum, with 95% of NFTs being on the Ethereum blockchain. However, many collectors are fed up with high fees and slow transaction times on Ethereum. 

As a result, alternatives such as Solana and Polygon are now becoming popular alternatives for collectors, with investors using bridge technology to transfer their NFTs from one blockchain to another. 

This article will look at how NFT ownership works, how to transfer an NFT onto a different blockchain, and how to use the ​​Polygon Bridge to transfer your NFTs. 

How Does NFT Ownership Work?

When buying an NFT, you acquire a token on the blockchain. You might experience this NFT as a picture of a monkey or something, but in essence, you own a string of programming. This token is unique and represents a particular asset. For example, if you purchased an NFT on OpenSea, you’d own a code that shows you own that particular asset. 

Once you own an NFT, you can use it commercially, for example, printing the art on a shirt or using the design in a video. However, this doesn’t stop other users from saving your image, with saving an image becoming a meme since 2021. 

Not all NFTs give you copyright and intellectual property rights, so checking the details before buying is important. 

How Do NFT Transfers Work?

Originally an NFT would stay on the blockchain it was purchased on. However, a new technology known as a blockchain bridge lets you transfer an NFT from one blockchain to another. 

A blockchain bridge, also known simply as a bridge, is software that lets collectors move NFT across blockchains. These third-party programs actively monitor blockchains to ensure a smooth transaction. 

For example, one such platform, NFTrade lets you move NFTs from one blockchain to another, with six blockchain networks to choose from. 

To start, set up an account and connect your wallet. 

Click My NFTs and choose the NFT you want to move from one blockchain to another. 

On the top right corner of the NFT page, click the three dots and select the new wallet you want to send the NFT to. 

Click Transfer NFT and verify the transaction to complete. You can then disconnect your wallet from NFT trade, and the selected wallet will now own the NFT. 

Another way to transfer NFTs across blockchains is through the Polygon Bridge. 

What is the Polygon Bridge?

Polygon Bridge is a cross-chain bridge between Polygon (formally Matic) and Ethereum that lets users transfer NFTs from Ethereum to the Polygon blockchain. Users can transfer all ERC tokens through a dual consensus procedure using this two-way bridge. This procedure uses a Plasma bridge and Proof-of-Stake bridge to complete the transaction and remain decentralized. 

How Does The Polygon Bridge Work?

When using the Polygon Bridge, no new tokens are created. Instead, tokens leaving a particular network are locked and minted through another network. The new token is then created, and the old one is burned. 

Here’s how you can use the bridge:

  1. Connect your crypto wallet (such as MetaMask) to the Polygon Web Wallet
  1. Sign your wallet through the extension
  1. You’ll be taken to the Polygon Bridge interface. Here you can choose your token (supported tokens include MATIC, ETH, ERC20, ERC721, ERC1155, and several others.)
  1. You’ll be charged a fee for this process which will change based on Ethereum traffic.
  1. If you want to transfer your NFTs back to their old blockchain, click “Withdraw” and choose the tokens you want to return to their old blockchain. 
  1. Once the transaction has been validated, your NFTs will be available to claim in your crypto wallet. 

Alternatively, you can also use the Plasma Bridge to transfer Polygon NFTs and transfer them to ETH, ERC20, or ERC721 tokens. Here’s how:

  1. Open MetaMask and click “Switch to Polygon.”
  1. Your Polygon details will show the Polygon network’s details.
  1. From here, head to the Polygon Bridge, click “Withdraw,” and repeat the process above. 

Three transactions will need to be validated when completing a transfer on the Plasma Bridge. 

The first is to withdraw an NFT from your Polygon Wallet. 

The second starts a 7-day challenge period, where an individual can challenge the transaction (this is for additional security.)

The third is to confirm sending your NFT to the wallet. 

Overall this process is more secure; however not as fast as the normal Polygon Bridge. 

However, some NFT holders may be a bit unsettled by the fact that their original NFT token is “burned” in order to create a new one.

Why Would You Copy An NFT Onto A Different Blockchain?

Although Ethereum dominates the NFT market, it’s far from perfect. One of the biggest issues with Ethereum is the transaction fees. Fees are extremely high, starting at $50-100+ per transaction, which is significantly higher than any other blockchain. 

In addition to this, the fees themselves can fluctuate dramatically. One day you may pay $50 for a transaction; the next, you could be paying over $150. This frustrates NFT collectors trying to budget or profit from their investments. 

Alternative blockchains such as Solana and Polygon have significantly lower fees. For example, the average cost of Minting an NFT in Solana is just 0.00001 SOL ($0.01.) Consequently, Solana and Polygon NFTs are growing in popularity, as shown by the growth in sales. Solana NFT sales volume hit an all-time high in the week ending Sept. 12, hitting almost $50 million (1.5 million SOL.)

Final Thoughts: Is Changing Blockchain Worth The Hassle?

As blockchain technology advances, so will the number of ways you can move an NFT onto a different blockchain. Currently, platforms such as NFTrade and Polygon Bridge are great ways to change blockchain. However, they can appear a little complicated for new investors. 

So, is changing blockchain the best option for you?

This will depend entirely on your reason for buying an NFT.

Changing the blockchain may not be worth the hassle if you’ve purchased an NFT to hold it for the long term. Instead, holding your NFT in its current wallet would be better, and hoping the value increases. 

However, if you frequently trade NFTs, then changing blockchain could help save you some money on network fees. It would also help speed up your transactions, letting you make more daily transactions. 

Before making a decision, make sure you do your research to understand the transfer process and avoid unnecessary fees. 

Layer-1 vs. Layer-2 Blockchains: What You Must Know

Bitcoin did the heavy lifting of creating a peer-to-peer decentralized and tokenized financial network. One person can send another person halfway around the world $1,000,000 in BTC for a paltry $20, sometimes even as low as a dollar and change. 

The problem is that microtransactions, such as sending a friend $4 for a cup of coffee, cost the same. 

Similarly, Ethereum created an entire galaxy of possibilities for DeFi, NFTs, and other decentralized applications. However, the breadth of its value has also been one of its detractions– as network gas fees skyrocket in times of extremely high traffic, making using the network ludicrously expensive for users and developers alike. 

CryptoKitties, an early sensational NFT game, nearly ground Ethereum’s network activity to a halt in 2018 due to the throng of transactions. Even today, gas fees can be hundreds or thousands of dollars to mint a new Ethereum-based NFT. 

However, problems are usually followed by problem solvers. Hundreds of developers have dedicated their professional lives of late to either building decentralized apps to help scale projects like Bitcoin or Ethereum or creating more scalable networks from the ground up. 

Layer-1: The underlying blockchain architecture. For example, Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Layer-2: A network that sits on top of Layer-1, which facilities network activity. For example, the Lightning Network and Raiden Network.

The following Layer-1 vs. Layer-2 blockchain guide explores both approaches and how they contrast. 

Layer-1 vs. Layer-2 Blockchains: The Basics

Layer-1 updates usually involve consensus protocol changes or sharding

As you may know, Bitcoin and Ethereum use a gawky but effective consensus protocol called Proof-of-Work (PoW). It’s good at what it does because it works. However, as network activity grows, its limitations become unbearable for many. 

PoW requires miners to solve cryptographically-difficult equations via computational power– hence Bitcoin mining facilities that are just warehouses with specifically designed computers running 24/7/365

At times, transactions can take way too long for convenience’s sake and become very expensive. Bitcoin can manage about seven transactions per second, whereas Ethereum can do 15-20. 

Proof-of-Stake (PoS) is a relatively newer protocol; rather than computation power, it relies on people (validators) staking a certain quantity of holdings to validate transactions.

Changing consensus algorithms can be a divisive ordeal, and switching from PoW to PoS on a network as large as that of Bitcoin or Ethereum would require achieving agreement among the majority of participants, which can be extremely difficult. 

Sharding is another Layer-1 scaling strategy. Sharding breaks transaction sets into smaller chunks called shards, which the network can process at a much faster rate. Think of cutting a PBJ sandwich into small pieces (shards) versus eating it bite by bite. Each small piece you eat is a finalized transaction, whereas the latter approach would require the whole sandwich to be eaten before the transactions are final. 

Attempting to implement scalability measures on a Layer-1 blockchain would require a full or partial network update, which is a slow and contentious process; if things go sideways, the entire network could face enormous damages. 

Many projects have been launched to provide users the scalability that the more legacy cryptocurrency projects have struggled to do. 

For example, chains like Solana, Cosmos, and Cardano (yet to launch anything) have emerged in attempts to unseat Ethereum as the most popular blockchain network for dApps, primarily targeting its scalability issues and low-hanging fruit. 

The user experience tends to be much faster and cheaper on the newer Layer-1s– transactions on Osmosis, a decentralized exchange built on Cosmos, cost around a penny. In contrast, the Ethereum DEX UniSwap can cost dozens or hundreds of dollars. 

However, the opportunity to scale the world’s most popular Layer-1s instead of launch new ones from the ground up is an admirable and lucrative challenge accepted by many. 

They do so through Layer-2 blockchain innovation

Layer-2: Attempts at Scalability

Layer-2s are essentially sandboxes for creativity with minimal or zero disruption to the underlying network.

There are two types of Layer-2 blockchains: state channels and nested blockchains.

A state channel allows for two participants who would otherwise interact on the blockchain to interact off the blockchain, limiting the congestion of the network. 

Imagine Bitcoin’s or Ethereum’s blockchain as a 10-lane superhighway with bumper-to-bumper traffic. A state channel would be the back-road approach you could take to avoid driving into a slow, expensive network and get to your end destination at a fraction of the time and cost. 

Here’s how state channels work: 

  1. A blockchain segment is sealed off through a smart contract or multi-signature means, where all participants agree on the conditions. Lightning Network and Raiden Network used Hashed Timelock Contracts (HTLCs) for their state channels. 
  2. The transaction participants can then directly interact without needing to submit their request to the miners on the Layer-1. 
  3. When all the transaction sets on the state channel are complete, the final state is added to the blockchain. 

So, while a transaction is technically not “final” until added to the blockchain, state channel projects like Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and Ethereum’s Raiden Network effectively carry out the role of policing and verifying transactions. 

The idea is that these “batched” transaction blocks can effectively internally settle; when they do, the entire batch is added to the blockchain. As such, Lightning Network enables fast microtransactions (low fees, fast settlement), and Raiden does the same thing for Ethereum’s broader functionality. 

However, state channels have some limitations. 

Nested blockchains aim to increase scalability exponentially, whereas state channels are more linear. 

Ethereum is a popular breeding ground for decentralized apps to solve scalability issues. OmiseGO, for example, is experimenting with a nested blockchain scaling solution called Plasma. 

In Plasma, multiple levels of specific-use blockchains sit on top of the leading blockchains in parent-child connections. The parent chain then dedicates specific work to child chains, such as a social network or decentralized exchange.

The root chain still calls all the shots and sets the ground rules, but nested blockchains relieve some load. 

Final Thoughts: What You Should Know About Blockchain Scalability

While the differences between Layer-1 and Layer-2 solutions might seem exclusively technical, it’s worth considering that by collecting NFTs, holding tokens, and using dApps, you’re the direct stakeholder in the whole ordeal. 

While Ethereum enjoys a considerable first-mover advantage for NFTs (and DeFi), boasting multi-billion-dollar dApps like OpenSea, competitors are gaining on its tail. 

As an NFT investor or creator, being aware of broader industry trends like scalability is an excellent way to keep your ear to the ground, whether that be for the purpose of finding the next BAYC (on another chain) or creating the next homerun NFT brand for a diehard layer-1 alternative. 

Are NFTs Truly Decentralized Art?

There are quite a bit of misunderstandings around NFTs. Many people think NFTs are minted on the Ethereum blockchain through a platform like Rarible and — voila! — the art is non-fungible and lives forever in a decentralized manner on the blockchain. But that’s not entirely the case. NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens” are really only non-fungible to the extent that it refers to the actual token, not the underlying artwork or rare asset itself. As such, the token and the “asset” it represents are two completely different things.

Huh?

Okay, let’s rewind a bit here. Although NFTs are often associated with digital art or GIFs these days, the reality is that they are better understood as a class of assets that are non-fungible. The $10 bill you used to pay for the coffee this morning? Fungible. The fingerprint you left on the bill when paying? Non-fungible. But is your fingerprint an asset? Debatable, depending on how much fingerprints go for on the black market these days (a joke, relax). But a key thing to remember is that non-fungible does not classify an object as rare, nor does it ensure that it is ‘rare’ or even decentralized.

This concept was probably best illustrated with a recent “rug pull” stunt conducted by one clever sculptor on the OpenSea platform. The artist exchanged the original JPEG images that the collectors thought they were purchasing with random pictures of rugs after the sale concluded. The intent of the stunt was to highlight the inherent problem of the current NFT infrastructure — which is mostly built on the Ethereum blockchain. By purchasing the NFT, the buyer would simply own the token to authenticate the JPEG listed on OpenSea, which at the time of purchase was a dope piece of art. But because the underlying digital asset itself is not decentralized, and might be stored on a central server somewhere such as on AWS or GCS, the buyer has no control in terms of what the NFT itself represents.

In other words, the non-fungibility is currently applied to the token representing the transaction of the purchase — not necessarily the owner of the physical (or digital) piece of art.

This is a common problem in the NFT sphere, as buyers often misunderstand the underlying infrastructure of the art they are buying, which can be problematic when there isn’t a physical equivalent of the purchase, ie: a digital GIF.

With most NFT marketplaces being built on Ethereum, another key problem is raised. The Ethereum network is often congested by other sectors such as DeFi, which eat up the majority of the bandwidth and exponentially raises the prices for minting and transacting NFTs. When compounded with the previously outlined problem, it is easy to see why the NFT art space is not the perfect picture it is painted to be after all.

This is where a platform like Pastel can paint a brighter future. Unlike Rarible or OpenSea, Pastel has built its own layer 1 blockchain to compete with Ethereum based platforms. This brings with it an innate advantage because the underlying architecture is designed to be perfectly outfitted and purpose-built for the sole use case for digital art and other rare digital assets, rather than being a do-it-all blockchain like Ethereum. With fewer projects demanding bandwidth, minting and trading NFTs on Pastel is significantly lighter on your (digital) wallet as well due to very low gas costs

In regards to the main problem of preventing “rug pulls”, Pastel ensures that the art (or other NFT) itself is uploaded, verified, and registered on the Pastel blockchain — rather than just the token it is minted with. Through a series of smart tickets living on the Pastel ledger, artists can store their masterpieces in a distributed fashion across a variety of Supernodes as opposed to just ensuring the token is non-fungible. This sophisticated storage layer, leveraging the RaptorQ fountain code algorithm, ensures that each asset is broken up and stored in a series of redundant, fungible chunks. These sets of chunks ar ethen distributed across the network using the Kademlia DHT algorithm. So what does this really mean? In short, even if over 90% of hosted instances suddenly go down, the remaining information can be reconstructed quickly and there is no possibility of the artwork disappearing.

So the next time you purchase an NFT, make sure you understand how and where your rare digital asset is stored — so that you won’t have the rug pulled out from underneath you.

Learn more about Pastel Network, and join us below!

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Pastel Mainnet Launch

Today, Pastel has announced that it has open-sourced its mainnet to the community for public release. Pastel is an open-source, decentralized system allowing artists to register “provably rare” assets on a Bitcoin-like blockchain, while also allowing art collectors to purchase these artworks and “trustlessly”  trade them among themselves without reliance on a central authority. After months of extensive development and testing, the Pastel Network mainnet is fully developed and live.

The network allows art collectors to purchase these artworks and “trustlessly” trade them among themselves without reliance on a central authority. Over two years ago, the team set out to develop the underlying infrastructure for a fully decentralized digital art platform, to better democratize the digital art world.

The core of the network is built on top of Z-Cash, leveraging EquiHash, a 2.5 minute block time, and an emission schedule relatively aligned with that of Bitcoin. Furthermore, the platform allows for shielded transactions by employing a Z-SNARKS Trusted Setup. 

However unlike Z-Cash, there is no hardcoded mining reward and instead, compensation and promotion of the pastel Network is conducted using a decentralized voting system controlled by Masternodes, the cornerstone of the Pastel architecture. Pastel implements essential elements from DASH, making it a novel masternode based cryptocurrency with full support for Z-SNARKS. On top of underpinning the overall security and validity of the network, Masternodes serve a key operational use case of the platform as they are critical for registering artwork and facilitating trading between users. 

With the attributes of Z-Cash and Dash, Pastel has built a secure system able to identify network participants – artists, collectors, and Masternode operators – across all interactions. This attribute is essential for having a functional reputation tracking system and for detecting and mitigating hostile behavior by malicious users.

Perhaps most importantly, compute intensive applications and operations are enabled by processing capabilities provided by the network’s Masternodes. To be specific, the application’s artwork registration flow lends itself to a sophisticated system that combines near-duplicate image detection and testing for inappropriate content – each with their own novel and innovative framework which leverage advances in machine learning technology as well as the creative application of classical statistical techniques. Pastel also introduces a novel method to increase the capacity of the blockchain for storing the required ticket data through the use of the innovative Z-Standard lossless compression algorithm developed as an open-source project by Facebook.

Currently, the network’s emission schedule matches that of Z-Cash, which is closely modeled off of Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s block reward began at 50 BTC per block, with a new block every 10 minutes. Conversely, Pastel has a max supply of 1,000x the size of the Bitcoin max supply, with a new block every 2.5 minutes (vs. every 10 minutes for Bitcoin). As such, the initial block reward is 6,250 PSL / Block, and is reduced by 50% every ~ 4 years (similar to halvening events in the Bitcoin network).

The Pastel Growth Fund receives 5% of the total block reward. These are funds that can be directed, in a decentralized way, by a vote of the Masternode owners as a group, using an integrated voting system. The ultimate goal of the Growth Fund is to promote the network through early adoption and public relations efforts. This might include the development of new functionality through updated software, the promotion of the project by getting the coin listed on a new exchange, or the promotion of the project through the enlistment of well-known or respected digital artists who could register their original works on the system. 

To date, the project has largely been funded by a handful of developers and early adopters. With the launch of a fully functional mainnet and platform (in comparison with many other blockchain projects which market nothing short of vaporware), the network has been able to raise financing from Innovating Capital, a technology fund out of New York, to further the project’s development and product adoption. 

CEO Jeff Emanuel Interviewed by CGTN America

Jeff Emanuel, Founder & CEO of the digital art network Pastel Network, was recently interviewed by CGTN America! During the interview, Jeff shared his ideas about the future of digital art and Pastel Network. We wanted to write an article about the interview for our readers, and provide more insight on the founder’s long-term vision of the platform.

During the interview, Jeff summarized the vision of Pastel in the following- “The art world has a lot of gatekeepers, dealers, agents, and gallerists that keep the little guy out. The beauty of this (Pastel) is that no one is running the network. No one is in charge. You are in this official ledger where you can clearly show an unbroken link beginning with the artist, to anyone that artist sold the work to, to you.” For artists, he mentioned that “Any artist can create an original digital artwork, register it on the system, say how many copies of it exist, and sell it, list it for sale in pastel coins. Then people, collectors, fans of the artist, can purchase these rare copies and then hold on to them, and hopefully, they’ll appreciate and value, or they can turn around and resell them.”

The art market, as well as the rare collectibles market (e.g., comic books, baseball cards, etc.), is rife with inefficiencies for both consumers and producers. By inefficiency, we mean that market participants (buyers and sellers) as a whole can be better off if only they could identify and transact directly with one another. Current market constructors result in collectors who are forced to transact through intermediaries, each of which end up extracting most of the “economic rent”. The people who are making the art are getting a fraction of the final value created, and those end buyers are forced to give up an enormous share of the potential profit through the various layers of fees and the lack of liquidity. The reason why collectors put up with this untenable situation is because the art market has always worked in this way, and until now, there have been no good alternatives that retain the “reputation backed security” offered by the traditional gallery or retail model.

While the inefficiencies that exist in the market for physical artwork are not going to change anytime soon, there is no reason why the new world of digital artwork has to be shackled to this inefficient and inequitable system. But before that can happen, the world needs a decentralized, trustless mechanism to fulfill these same core functions of the art market that are currently provided by galleries and experts. Why must it be decentralized? In short, no one is going to trust a centralized network with something as important as high-end (or even low-end) artwork or valuable rare collectibles.

In a fully decentralized peer-to-peer system such as Pastel, where all of the software is open-source and anyone can freely purchase the coins required to “host” the network (i.e., to run a Masternode) so that it can serve users, the community is never faced with this problem. And Pastel believes this is the future of digital art. Since the art exists in digital form (i.e., as information), the costs to create it and distribute it are much lower than with physical Artwork. Also, the use of secure cryptographic methods provided by Pastel allows rare digital art to solve the problem of establishing the authorship and provenance of a given artwork, which has plagued the art market for centuries. From a financial side, by integrating the payment and trading aspects of art collecting into the very same blockchain that acts as its registry, Pastel can greatly reduce the need for extensive intermediation in the form of galleries, dealers, and payment processors. Because of the intrinsically public nature of a Bitcoin-like blockchain, digital art of the form Pastel proposes would dramatically improve the transparency of the art market, with buyers able to see the entire history of trades for a given work.

Jeff concluded the interview with an affirmation that Pastel truly represents the future of the digital art market — a fully decentralized platform eliminating the intermediaries in the art trading world. Artists and collectors who can enjoy barrier-free trading — all powered by Pastel with its own, independent blockchain.