The newest cryptocurrency, Aptos, debuted its mainnet this week to much fanfare surrounding its token airdrop to early adopters, but there are also doubts about the network's ability to live up to the hype surrounding its technology. The network has attracted $350 million in VC funding.
However, as a flurry of NFT initiatives are ready to go live on the network, the blockchain's first true test may be just around the corner. How can Aptos keep up if demand for its NFTs equals the buzz? NFT trading has previously put the Ethereum and Solana networks under a lot of stress.
The Aptos debut was met with high expectations, in part because of the substantial VC funding and also because it was inspired by Facebook's abandoned Diem project. However, rumors that Aptos can expand to handle many more transactions than any existing layer-1 blockchain—more than 160,000 transactions per second—also contributed to part of the enthusiasm (TPS).
We haven't yet seen evidence of Aptos' ability to handle such high technical demands on the mainnet, though. Aptos could only handle a few transactions per second when it first started on Monday. The number is currently circling around 10 TPS.
With Solana handling over 3,000 TPS and Ethereum handling about 30 TPS on its mainnet, these two prominent smart contract platforms are the fastest. However, testnet numbers don't often correspond to actual circumstances on the envisioned public mainnet—Solana, for instance, claimed tens of thousands of TPS on its testnet years ago.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Mo Shaikh, a co-founder of Aptos, stated that the "current TPS is not typical of the network capacity—this was the network idling ahead of projects coming online. This number is anticipated to rise with increased activity, which means that while Aptos is still in its infancy, it will soon be ready for use.
With specialized Aptos marketplaces currently operational and a few collections available, that increased activity may be just around the corner as Aptos users get ready to mint their first NFTs. Following substantial social media traction, a number of other collections are slated to debut this week and the following.
The NFT scene in Aptos is already expanding. One of the exchanges, Topaz, tweeted on Thursday morning that it had already processed trades worth about 12,000 APT (over $87,000), for a total of about 3,700 NFTs that were listed on its platform. Topaz is one of the marketplaces that is already facilitating trades for a few collections, including the CryptoPunks ripoff Aptos Punk.
An NFT is a blockchain token that can act as a deed of ownership for an item. They have a wide range of applications, including with real goods like clothing and other commodities as well as digital artwork. However, the applications that have historically driven demand—like profile photographs (PFPs) and interactive video game items—can pose a threat to the stability of networks.
Since the infamous 2017 transaction CryptoKitties, which notably clogged the network and made it challenging to process subsequent transactions, Ethereum has seen significant scalability issues with NFTs. More recently, the demand for mints during the NFT market boom in late 2021 and early 2022 led Ethereum gas fees—transaction fees paid to the network—to soar to sometimes hundreds of dollars.
Solana, the second-largest layer-1 platform for NFTs, has NFT drop issues as well but can handle much more transactions per second than Ethereum. One of three such incidents in 2022—the Solana network crashed in April—was brought on by automated bot programs that tried to overrun and manipulate NFT launches by flooding the network with transactions.
Although it has only been a few days, Aptos currently has a limited NFT scene in comparison to those more experienced competitors. NFTs markets have the potential to grow quickly and see enormous demand, especially once a speculative frenzy takes hold. Although the overall NFT market has recently cooled, new chances may tempt many eager traders.
The anonymous 0xclickbait, co-founder of Topaz marketplace, told Decrypt that Aptos NFTs have received unexpected initial interest.
They said, "In my four years in the crypto sector, I've never seen such an immediate demand for NFTs on a fresh chain." "There's something about Aptos—the tech, the team, and the mission—that is luring people in and giving this crypto winter new life," one person said.
They anticipate greater interest as the Aptos ecosystem develops, new initiatives are introduced, and the APT coin is made available on centralized cryptocurrency exchanges. Regarding technological capabilities, they claimed that before to the mainnet launch, the Aptos testnet handled between 2,000 and 4,000+ TPS "without breaking a sweat."
That is supported by a recent research report from the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which lists 4,200 TPS for testnet performance. If that amount of TPS can be matched on the mainnet, it would at least be comparable to Solana's projected possible peak for the technology employing Aptos' parallel execution technique.
Anyone who has followed Aptos for longer than a month "is pretty confident" that the network can handle increased demand, according to 0xclickbait.
A number of anticipated NFT releases from profile photo (PFP) collections that have gained sizable social media followings in recent weeks and months are currently being teed up by Topaz and rival marketplace Souffl3.
Along with Aptos Monkeys, which Shaikh has previously promoted with his own Twitter avatar, Bruh Bears, a project that has a pixelated appearance similar to Solana Monkey Business, will have its Topaz premiere at an unspecified time. On Friday, another project called Aptomingos would distribute a free mint. Upcoming releases from Souffl3 include the Okay Bears-inspired Rekt Dogs and Retro Boys Club.
According to 0xclickbait to Decrypt, "I'm most enthusiastic for the organic, real, grassroots, serious community builders, like Aptomingos and Bruh Bears." They are establishing communities and brands that will endure and flourish over time.
0xclickbait reported that more than 1,000 applications from creators were submitted to the marketplace when Topaz unveiled its testnet launchpad for minting new NFT projects. They think that NFT-based gaming will emerge as a key use case on the network and that Aptos' widely praised Move blockchain programming language will draw developers as well.
Can the technology handle the prospective needs of thousands of traders competing to buy a finite number of NFTs at once, given the lack of evidence so far that the Aptos mainnet can scale to meet significant demand? Early indications suggest that a market of keen collectors may exist who are prepared to put it to the test.