The NFT market is booming, and according to Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana, it’s now become “obvious in retrospect” that NFTs have become the cultural icons that unite the crypto industry. 

But even if it’s now “obvious” in hindsight, that certainly wasn’t the case a few years ago.

An NFT is a unique type of token that acts like a receipt to a digital item, as verified by a blockchain. During the first half of 2021, NFT sales hit $2.5 billion. After a brief lull in momentum, NFTs started dominating headlines once again when household names like Budweiser and Visa jumped on the bandwagon. 


The buzz around NFTs led many to ask a simple question—what’s the point? Should we look at NFTs as financial assets, as art, or as a symbol of crypto culture? For Yakovenko, who helped build the upstart Solana network with the aim of competing with Ethereum, the answer is now clear.

“I didn’t expect it was going to be NFTs, but I kind of felt there’s a very deep, social component to crypto, and I knew I’m not going to be able to predict what it looks like, but it’s obvious in retrospect, NFTs are it,” he told Decrypt earlier today at the Solana Breakpoint conference in Lisbon, Portugal. 

Solana and NFTs

Yakovenko’s comments follow recent news that consumers can now purchase Solana NFTs with USD on FTX’s regulated marketplace, FTX NFTs. 

“NFTs right now is a very niche market specifically because it has grown up as a DeFi product,” FTX US president Brett Harrison told Decrypt at the time.

Yakovenko also told Decrypt that the ever-burgeoning NFT market represents a “huge opportunity” for exchanges to break into the decentralized finance space, referring to the range of DeFi products that enable their users to trade, borrow, and lend crypto assets without third-party intermediaries.


“That’s a huge opportunity, I think, for exchanges to move into this kind of generalized access point to DeFi, to decentralized exchanges, to NFTs, and to everything else that’s going on in the space,” he said.

Solana’s native cryptocurrency SOL—which has experienced a year of immense growth—recently reached an all-time high of $260. In addition, the Solana ecosystem has seen a huge increase in the total value of DeFi projects built on the network. 

At the time of writing, over $15 billion of total value is now locked into DeFi products on the Solana network.

Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.