Exploring Interesting Ethereum Tokens (ERC-20s) Around the NFT Economy

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been among the biggest stars of the Ethereum ecosystem this year.
That said, while these NFTs are totally different from fungible ERC-20 tokens (like Dai, LINK, etc.), the cryptoeconomy now has more than a few ERC-20 tokens that are associated with promising on-the-rise NFT ventures. In today’s post, we’ll look at some of the biggest of these tokens and explore how they play into their respective NFT projects.
Note: This isn’t investment advice but rather a survey of an interesting rising token scene. These tokens can be very volatile, like bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH), so in many cases they’re more like crypto-native participation instruments that can have upside or IOUs for digital collectibles than they are traditional investable assets. 
MANA is the native currency of Ethereum virtual world project Decentraland and the Decentraland Marketplace, where the project’s digital land, wearables, and beyond can be freely traded. Moreover, MANA holders have voting power in the Decentraland DAO, the decentralized organization through which the Decentraland community collectively manages the virtual world project.
Notably, U.S. crypto exchange giant Coinbase listed MANA for trading on its retail-minded Coinbase.com this week.
Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) is the newly launched governance token of Ethereum digital pets game Axie Infinity, which, by the numbers, is one of Ethereum’s most popular dApps period right now.
Publicly launched via the Binance Launchpad platform, the token will be awarded to users who participate (or have participated in the past) in the play-to-earn game’s ecosystem. To this end, Axie Infinity players themselves will be empowered to steer the future of the game through AXS. The token is one of the first high-profile governance experiments in the NFT arena, so folks around the cryptoeconomy are watching it with great interest accordingly.
SAND is the utility token of The Sandbox, a virtual world and gaming platform built atop Ethereum. As such we can think of SAND as the medium of exchange in The Sandbox, allowing players to purchase services and assets in-world and monetize their own content in kind. The token has a total supply of 3 billion, of which 23.5%, or 705 million, are currently circulating. Like Axie Infinity with AXS, The Sandbox’s creators held a public sale of SAND through Binance Launchpad earlier this year.
WG0 stands for “Wrapped Gen 0 CryptoKitties.” Of course, you’ve likely heard of CryptoKitties by now: it was the first NFT project to achieve a flash of breakout success back in 2017. Yet trading CryptoKitties NFTs can be an illiquid affair, so WG0 was released, which wraps desirable Generation 0 CryptoKitties as ERC-20 tokens so they can be more easily tradable. WG0 tokens can be “unwrapped,” i.e. redeemed, for CryptoKitties in the project’s underlying pool of Gen 0s at any time.
Note: This token shouldn’t be confused with WCK, an earlier wrapped token project based around CryptoKitties.
WOA stands for “Wrapped Origin Axies,” and the token works similarly to the Wrapped CryptoKitties we just discussed. The project lets users wrap highly-sought Origin Axie pets from the Axie Infinity game so that they can be easily traded on decentralized exchanges like Uniswap. Accordingly, WOA can also be unwrapped to redeem an underlying Axie or Axies whenever holders desire. After launching just a few weeks ago, the token is currently trading at $418 each and has a market cap around $100,000 USD. The project wasn’t created by the Axie Infinity team, but it does show the game’s community is increasingly making interesting contributions to the Axie universe.
GEM is the utility token of the new NFT minting platform, Cargo. These tokens are at the heart of one of the cryptoeconomy’s first NFT-based staking systems. Not only can GEMs be used to vote on the future direction of Cargo, they can also be staked inside NFTs to earn more GEM rewards. This campaign, which is meant to bootstrap activity around the new platform and reward its earliest stakeholders, is currently fetching a ~200% APY in GEMs. The best part? Users don’t have to lock up their NFTs for this staking process and can freely move their NFTs around while GEMs are staked inside of them.
GHST is the utility token of Aave’s DeFi-NFT gaming meld, Aavegotchi. Players must use GHST to purchase the game’s key assets, like Portables and wearables. Portals are the only way to mint Aavegotchis, and every Portal gives players the ability to mint one Aavegotchi from a possible selection of 10. Moreover, a portion of all GHST transactions are sent to AavegotchiDAO treasury, which the game’s community will collaboratively govern in the future with regard to the project’s roadmap. Thus as Aavegotchi grows more popular, so too will its development possibilities widen thanks to an ever-growing warchest.
COIN tokens are fractionalized ERC-20 token shards of Marguerite de Courcelle, also known as coin_artist and the CEO of Blockchade Games, who tokenized herself as an NFT earlier this year. COIN has accordingly become the native currency of Coin’s E-Den project, the first syndicate in Blockade Games’s NFT-centric Neon District franchise. The token can grant levels and social roles within the experimental syndicate, and it can even be staked to earn fractionalized NFT rewards from Coin’s E-Den NFT Farms. To this end, the syndicate will periodically purchase new NFTs to be sharded into rewards for COIN stakers.
WHALE is a social token that’s hit the limelight this year in the NFT economy on account of the asset being launched by WhaleShark, a major and influential NFT collector, in collaboration with the rising social token platform Roll. In recent years WhaleShark has amassed a lucrative “Vault” of high-profile NFTs, which lead him to launching WHALE this year as a token representing his NFT holdings, brand, and community. With a total supply of $10 million and a market cap of $20.5 million, the token is currently trading at just under $5 USD each after it hit an all-time high of $14.41 back in September.
Also launched through Roll, OSINA is the personal token project of acclaimed Nigerian cryptoartist, Osinachi. Indeed, Osinachi’s signature pieces have become absolute hits in the NFT economy this year, so now the creator is looking to engage and interact with his fans in new, mutually-beneficial ways through his new OSINA token. This month, the artist even launched an OSINA liquidity mining campaign, in which the token’s liquidity will be bootstrapped by “giving out up to 50,000 $OSINA for folks that have provided $OSINA/ETH liquidity [on Uniswap] for at least 30 days.” Like WHALE, there will only ever be 10 million OSINA in existence (per Roll’s internal policy).
Ethereum’s blooming NFT ecosystem is catching fire lately, and that’s made folks start scrambling to find ways to participate in the arena’s most promising projects. That’s precisely why the projects above are interesting: they’re not NFTs themselves, but they help you participate in some of the NFT space’s most existing up-and-coming outfits. Going forward, expect to see plenty of more governance tokens like MANA and AXS, as well as more staking systems like Cargo has employed with GEMs. Moreover, wrapped NFTs like WG0 and WOA are poised to grow in popularity, too, as more people start clamoring over digital collectibles.
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