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Nonfungible tokens don’t live on the blockchain, experts say

As nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are advertised as blockchain-based technologies, there are misconceptions on how they are stored according to two experts. They argued that technically, these tokens do not exist in the blockchain but are actually stored elsewhere. 

In a Cointelegraph interview, Jonathan Victor, the Web3 storage lead at Protocol Labs and Alex Salnikov, the co-founder of Rarible, discussed decentralized storage, the future of the NFT space and investing in NFTs.

According to Victor, main chains are very limited in size and storing data on the blockchain can be very expensive. Because of the large file sizes of assets, off-chain storage solutions are introduced. He said that NFT data can live anywhere from a hosted node or decentralized storage networks.

Salnikov also weighed in on the topic, saying that since NFTs are a new concept, there can be a lot of misconceptions about how NFT storage works. He said that the transaction is confirmed by the blockchain, but the file is located somewhere else. He explained that:

“It is important to understand that the NFT living in a user’s wallet only points to the file it represents – the actual file itself, also known as an NFT’s metadata, is typically stored elsewhere.”

Despite this, the experts noted that storage for NFTs can still be considered decentralized. Victor explained that their project NFT.Storage does this by using decentralized storage networks like Filecoin (FIL) and the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). With this, they are able to store NFTs as a public good, similar to the internet archive. He said that:

“When we think about decentralization – I like to frame it in terms of whether there’s a single point of failure. Simply storing data off-chain doesn’t introduce centralization – so long as we’re doing it thoughtfully.”

Salnikov also shared that in the NFT marketplace Rarible, they stored NFTs using IPFS. However, to further enhance data integrity, the Rarible co-founder said that they integrated with NFT.Storage, which implements both storages on Filecoin and IPFS.

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