NFTs vs Cryptocurrencies: Unpacking Their Key Differences


In the world of digital assets, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies represent two of the most talked-about blockchain-based innovations gaining mainstream traction. However, despite both being tokenized assets on blockchain networks, NFTs and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have some fundamental differences that set them apart. By analyzing some of the core contrasts between NFTs vs cryptocurrencies, we can better understand the unique value propositions of each. While both NFTs and cryptocurrencies leverage blockchain technology, examining the differences between NFTs vs cryptocurrencies allows us to appreciate the distinct use cases and value of each.

First and foremost, the main difference between NFTs vs crypto lies in their fungibility. NFTs are non-fungible assets, meaning they are unique and not mutually interchangeable. No two NFTs are exactly alike, and each has distinctive attributes and value. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are fungible. This means people can replace or exchange crypto tokens with other tokens of equal value. For instance, 1 Ether is always equal to another 1 Ether.

In addition, while people primarily use cryptocurrencies as digital money or speculative investments, NFTs have much more diverse real-world utility. NFTs commonly represent ownership of digital artwork, gaming assets, sports memorabilia, music, domain names, and much more. Their value comes from their verifiable scarcity and proof of ownership stored immutably on blockchain. Therefore, the value of NFTs vs crypto assets derives from very different sources.

Furthermore, in terms of liquidity and market infrastructure, cryptocurrencies have more mature ecosystems. People can seamlessly trade crypto on exchanges for other digital assets or fiat currency. NFTs, however, tend to be less liquid and often trade on more niche marketplaces. Yet thanks to innovation and interoperability across blockchains, the liquidity and accessibility of NFTs is rapidly improving.

In summary, by examining some of the core differences between NFTs and cryptocurrencies, we see that while both are disruptive blockchain-based digital assets, NFTs derive value from their non-fungible uniqueness and diverse use cases, whereas the value of crypto is underpinned by fungibility and widespread use as digital money. As these technologies continue maturing, analyzing their contrasts allows us to better grasp their respective value.

NFTs Are Unique, Cryptocurrencies Are Interchangeable

When examining the differences between NFTs vs cryptocurrencies, the contrast between non-fungibility and fungibility is critically important. NFTs are non-fungible cryptographic assets with unique attributes that distinguish them from each other. This means NFTs cannot be replicated or replaced, as no two NFTs are exactly the same. This greatly differs from cryptocurrencies which are designed to be fungible. Fungibility means a cryptocurrency token can be mutually interchangeable with other tokens of equal type and value. For example, trading 1 Bitcoin for another 1 Bitcoin still leaves you with 1 Bitcoin. The same fungibility applies to Ethereum’s Ether and other cryptocurrencies.

Unlike fungible cryptocurrencies, every NFT possesses distinctive properties, whether it’s a one-of-a-kind digital artwork, in-game asset, music file, or collectible. These attributes cannot be replicated, making NFTs provably scarce digital items. The more scarce and in-demand an NFT is, the higher its value typically is. This has fueled the rise of NFTs representing ownership of digital items, from Jack Dorsey’s first tweet selling for $2.9 million to NFTs transforming gaming with true digital ownership of assets. Also, the non-fungible nature of NFTs allows programmable royalties so creators benefit from secondary sales. These unique properties demonstrate why NFTs provide more utility than fungible cryptocurrency tokens could.

In summary, the non-fungibility of NFTs vs the fungibility of cryptocurrencies is a key distinction between these digital asset classes. NFTs’ uniqueness unlocks value and utility that interchangeable, replicable fungible tokens cannot provide. As NFT adoption increases, their provable scarcity and ownership attributes will keep differentiating them from cryptocurrencies, even as both NFTs and crypto build utility.

NFT Use Cases Are More Diverse

When contrasting NFTs vs cryptocurrencies, NFTs showcase far more diverse real-world use cases. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum primarily see use as speculative investments. Or they are used for value storage and payments. However, NFTs represent verified ownership of unique digital items and assets. This unlocks a whole new realm of digital utility.

For instance, NFTs have transformed digital art and collectibles. They enable true ownership of one-of-a-kind artwork, music, videos, memes, GIFs, and more. These items are bought and sold just like physical art and collectibles. But now creators monetize work while retaining full copyright ownership. NFTs also allow programmable royalties. This means artists earn from secondary sales.

Additionally, NFTs are revolutionizing gaming. They let players fully own in-game assets. These include skins, avatars, weapons, vehicles, real estate, and more. Players can freely trade owned NFT gaming assets. This transforms virtual game economies. NFT domain names like .crypto are also gaining adoption.

Moreover, NFTs have applications in identity. They profile pictures signify membership and status. NFT domains represent digital identity. NFT event tickets counter fraud. The options are expansive.

NFTs also integrate with decentralized finance. NFTs can serve as loan collateral in DeFi apps. NFT staking generates yield. Fractional NFTs expand access. The intersection of NFTs and DeFi unlocks new models.

Cryptocurrencies do not enable ownership or contain identifying metadata like NFTs. While cryptocurrencies transfer value, NFT ownership enables more utility. NFTs have opened the door to provable digital ownership, creative monetization, community incentives, and new virtual economies.

In conclusion, NFTs vs cryptocurrencies showcase stark differences in utility and applications. NFT non-fungibility creates new opportunities not possible with interchangeable cryptocurrencies used just for transactions, investing, or trading. NFTs are disrupting a diverse array of digital markets in groundbreaking ways.

Everyone keeps talking about it, but do you really know what NFTs and cryptocurrency are? Read our guide to easily understand the difference between these two.

Cryptocurrencies Are More Liquid

When analyzing and comparing the markets for NFTs vs cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrencies currently have significantly higher liquidity and trading volume. Cryptocurrencies can be seamlessly exchanged and traded on a wide variety of centralized and decentralized crypto exchanges across hundreds of trading pairs. Large transaction volumes between fiat currencies, stablecoins, and major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum occur daily across global exchanges like Coinbase, Binance, and FTX as well as DeFi protocols. This provides ample liquidity for investors and users.

Conversely, most NFTs tend to be much less liquid, as they were designed for ownership rather than exchange trading. NFTs are often traded on more niche marketplaces specific to the project, and buyers must have knowledge about the NFT’s utility and community. However, thanks to innovation and cross-chain interoperability, NFT liquidity is rapidly improving. Decentralized exchange protocols are now allowing NFTs to be swapped across multiple blockchains, while services like NFT fractionalization split NFTs into more affordable shares to be traded.

Additionally, as cryptocurrency adoption grows worldwide, more fiat currency gateways and trading pairs are being added to NFT marketplaces. So it’s becoming easier for mainstream users to trade fiat for crypto, and then crypto for NFTs. While NFT infrastructure is still playing catch-up, we can expect liquidity to keep increasing with surging adoption and utility. This will slowly help close the liquidity gap between fungible cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.

In summary, analyzing the markets reveals that top cryptocurrencies currently have much greater liquidity compared to most NFT projects. But continued infrastructure development and cross-chain interoperability are rapidly improving NFT liquidity. However, NFTs will likely never match the fungibility of crypto designed specifically for liquid exchange trading. This contrast in liquidity remains a differentiator between these two digital asset classes.


When we analyze the differences between NFTs vs cryptocurrencies, we see two innovative classes of digital assets with their own distinct value propositions. While there are some surface-level similarities in both being blockchain-based cryptographic tokens, the utility and functionality of non-fungible tokens compared to fungible cryptocurrency coins and tokens diverge in very distinct ways.

NFTs unlock entirely new models where people can digitally own, engage with, and monetize unique, provably scarce digital items across industries like art, gaming, sports, and entertainment. Cryptocurrencies, in contrast, aim to efficiently and trustlessly exchange value and enable decentralized finance, with fungibility at their core. While NFT markets are still maturing, their non-fungible nature and diversity of use cases provide opportunities not possible with interchangeable crypto tokens used just for trading, investing, or transactions.

However, similarities exist as well in the broader promise of blockchain technology. Both NFTs and cryptocurrencies increase transparency, security, and immutability compared to traditional systems. They allow pseudonymous decentralized participation and transfer of value. Moving forward, we can expect continued blurring between these spheres, with NFTs incorporating defi functions and cryptocurrencies integrating more utility. But the core distinctions of fungibility versus non-fungibility and use cases will likely persist long term.

In summary, gaining a nuanced understanding of the differences between NFTs vs cryptocurrencies allows us to truly appreciate the innovations happening in both spaces. As adoption accelerates globally, examining their contrasts and synergies will be key to grasping their evolving value as blockchain-based digital assets transforming countless industries through enhanced trust, transparency, and ownership.


The Differences Between NFTs and Cryptocurrency: Why They’re Not the Same Thing

Tom Mitchell

Tom Mitchell

Tom is a writer and artist who has been experimenting with NFTs since 2017. He loves how the technology allows artists to create and monetize their work in new and exciting ways. His writing often explores the creative possibilities of blockchain-based art and he’s currently working on a novel about an NFT artist caught up in a high-stakes crypto heist.

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