While the recent downturn in the crypto market has weighed heavily on the fortunes of Solana (SOL -0.05%), it still has one of the brightest long-term outlooks of any of the smaller cryptos attempting to challenge the two market heavyweights: Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) and Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH). By market capitalization, Solana now ranks #9 among all cryptos and could be one of the few coins capable of surviving a prolonged “crypto winter.”

Solana’s primary claim to fame is that it has developed a leading position in the non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, building up a robust ecosystem of investors, developers, artists, and designers committed to its long-term future. It is now the No. 2 blockchain for buying and selling NFTs, trailing only Ethereum. At the same time, Solana continues to showcase innovative new use cases for the Solana blockchain, ranging from blockchain gaming (GameFi) to decentralized finance (DeFi).

Solana’s leading role in the NFT market

The case for investing in Solana starts with SOL’s rising prominence in the NFT space, which remains one of the most promising sectors of the crypto world. At one time, Ethereum stood alone as the dominant player in the NFT world. All of the biggest NFT projects — including Bored Apes and CryptoKitties — were minted on the Ethereum blockchain, and Ethereum dominated NFT sales on popular marketplaces like OpenSea.

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But something happened in April that seemed to break Ethereum’s stranglehold on the NFT marketplace: OpenSea began listing NFTs minted on the Solana blockchain. Since OpenSea is one of the largest, most influential, and most popular NFT marketplaces, this opened up the market for Solana NFTs to a wider group of buyers and sellers, who previously relied on smaller, lesser-known marketplaces like Magic Eden to find new Solana NFTs. Simply put, the decision by OpenSea to list Solana NFTs brought more attention to the Solana blockchain than ever before and also gave Solana an implicit seal of approval. Near the end of May, Solana hit an important milestone: It finally passed Ethereum in terms of overall NFT sales volume during a single 24-hour period with the launch of the highly anticipated Trippin’ Ape Tribe NFT collection.

Ethereum still does nearly 10 times the daily NFT sales volume of Solana on an average day, but it’s possible to envision the wide-open potential of Solana if it continues to dedicate resources to its rapidly expanding NFT ecosystem.┬áIt just needs more Trippin’ Apes to compete with Ethereum’s Bored Apes.

What’s new under the sun for Solana?

Solana is hardly a one-trick pony. Solana developers are constantly coming up with new, innovative use cases for NFTs. One great example is STEPN, a lifestyle game/app built on the Solana blockchain that popularized the whole “move-to-earn” craze. Basically, you earn crypto by going for walks or runs each day. In order to do this, however, you have to buy a “sneaker NFT” on the Solana blockchain. This really expands the idea of what an NFT can be: You can get paid to get into shape, all by investing in a pair of digital running shoes. Mind blown. As long as Solana developers keep coming up with ideas like this, SOL is a very interesting long-term crypto play.

Add in the fact that Solana is committing serious money to new projects, and the case for investing in Solana becomes even stronger. For example, Solana announced in June that it was committing $100 million to invest in South Korean metaverse, gaming, NFT, and DeFi projects.

Sunny skies ahead for Solana

Solana first launched to the public back in 2020. Within months, it was already being touted as a potential Ethereum-killer, not just by Crypto Twitter but also by the likes of CNBC and Bloomberg. Since Solana offered much faster processing speeds, as well as much lower transaction fees than Ethereum, analysts predicted that users and developers would eventually abandon Ethereum and move over to Solana. If this migration happened fast enough, then Ethereum would largely become irrelevant as all the most exciting and innovative blockchain projects would be built on top of the Solana blockchain.

Solana has largely lived up to the hype surrounding it, with a few brief network outages in recent months the only real blemish on its record. While Solana may not have yet displaced Ethereum as the top blockchain for NFTs, it has established a solid foundation for a promising future involving NFTs, gaming apps, and other decentralized applications running on its super-fast, super-inexpensive blockchain.

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