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Solana (SOL 1.16%), trading at just $12.25, is down more than 93% for the year. That makes it one of the worst-performing cryptos of 2022. Making matters even worse, Solana was caught up in the drama surrounding failed crypto exchange FTX (FTT 0.49%) thanks to the venture capital investments that former FTX Chief Executive Officer Sam Bankman-Fried and his affiliated companies made in Solana and its ecosystem. Small wonder investors continue to have fears about Solana and FTX contagion.
But looking under the surface, I think there’s a lot to be excited about for Solana in 2023. There are specifically two high-growth areas that could be setting Solana up for a big 2023.
Solana continues to build market share rapidly in the non-fungible token (NFT) market. According to crypto research firm Messari, quarter-over-quarter growth in NFTs for Solana is running at a blistering 19%. Solana is now second in the NFT market, trailing only Ethereum (ETH 0.05%) in terms of transaction volume and activity, and that gap continues to close. 
Image source: Getty Images.
Looking ahead to 2023, Solana is getting ready for an event that some are calling #MintORama. In the first quarter of 2023, the Helium (HNT -0.27%) blockchain network will officially migrate over to Solana. When it does, it will lead to the minting of 1 million new NFTs, making it the largest NFT mint in Solana history. It will also change the way people think about NFTs since each new NFT will be tied to a wireless hotspot in the Helium network.
Yes, the NFT market cratered in 2022, so maybe massive growth in NFTs is not exactly what investors want to be hearing right now. However, Solana has clearly shown that it can challenge Ethereum directly in an area where many people thought Ethereum had an overwhelming advantage. Moreover, Solana has shown that it has network capacity to handle tremendous transaction volume.
Despite all the naysayers, Solana continues to press on with its development of Web3 applications and use-case scenarios. In November, Solana unveiled its 2023 calendar of hacker and developer events, and it will be a truly global tour, from New York City and Austin, Texas, in the U.S., to Berlin, Istanbul, Vietnam, and India. Moreover, Solana unofficially made the entire month of December “DEVcember” in an attempt to rally Solana developers around the blockchain network. Solana wants to make it as easy and as attractive as possible to develop for Solana.
All of this is setting the stage for a massive growth in Web3 that weaves together two high-profile projects from 2022: the launch of the Solana Pay network and the announcement of the Solana Mobile initiative. Put it all together, and it could help to catapult Solana into the lead when it comes to Web3 payments and e-commerce. As Solana explained on Twitter, the Web3 future will include “paying for a Web3 coffee with a Web3 phone with a Web3 payment protocol on a Web3 point-of-sale.” This end-to-end control of the transaction is something that could give Solana a majar advantage over its rivals.
The big question, of course, is whether Solana can deliver on this innovative vision of the future. In 2022, Solana repeatedly encountered problems with network outages, so some blockchain experts are decidedly skeptical. And, with the SBF-FTX drama continuing to drag on, some are wondering if Solana will continue to see the type of drop-off in network activity that occurred in November. Things got so bad for Solana that Cardano (ADA -0.77%) was even offering to make Solana a “sidechain” earlier this month.
Nevertheless, Solana has said it has more than 30 months of runway left, so there’s no need to worry about Solana suddenly burning all its money and shutting down. Moreover, Solana is making significant strides in high-profile, consumer-facing areas where it is easy to track Solana’s progress and hold it accountable for hitting key milestones. Many people agree that Web3 is going to be one of the next big things in technology, and Solana is positioning itself to lead the charge in the crypto world. 
I’m bullish on Solana for both the short term and the long run. I view Solana as a deeply discounted value crypto that has simply been beaten down too far and for too long by the market. Remember, one year ago, Solana was a $260 crypto and one of the buzziest names in the blockchain world. Solana may not regain that level in 2023, but I’m convinced that the year ahead is going to be a big one for Solana.
Dominic Basulto has positions in Cardano and Ethereum. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Cardano, Ethereum, and Solana. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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