Interest in digital assets surged this year, with the next generation of investors at the forefront.
The value of the cryptocurrency market briefly surpassed $3 trillion in November, with top coins like bitcoin and ether hitting all-time highs. Other digital assets, like nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, jumped in value as well. In November, NFT marketplace OpenSea surpassed $10 billion in total volume.
Demand for NFTs of art, music and in-game assets, like digital plots of land in the metaverse, soared.
Now, during the holiday season, young investors are spending big on NFTs and other digital assets as gifts. Here's a look at what five people are planning to buy.
Cynthia Gentry plans to gift an NFT of a digital land lot for her sister and parents to share in the metaverse. It could cost thousands of dollars, depending on factors like metaverse game, demand and size.
The 23-year-old San Antonio resident sees NFTs as assets that will appreciate over time. "It's funny, I don't think I even have a budget," she says. "It doesn't feel like I'm spending money, [I'm] just storing my money in a different asset."
For her mom and sister, Gentry plans to buy collectible NFTs from projects like World of Women and Crypto Coven that aim to empower women. Though she's unsure how much she'll spend, each collection has a floor price, which is the lowest price available.
The World of Women collection, which consists of 10,000 generated works representing drawings of diverse women, has a current floor price of 1.95 ether, or $7,275. The Crypto Coven collection includes 9,999 different witches and has floor price of 0.19 ether, or about $709.
For her dad, Gentry plans to get a Ledger Nano hardware wallet, which ranges from $59 to $119, or an NFT from a project with a "cool, interesting roadmap," Gentry says. She's also hoping to pay for an online course on blockchain coding for him, because "he likes gifts that can expand his expertise in some way."
Gentry's sister, Imani, also plans to buy everyone in her family NFTs for Christmas. She's budgeting at least 2.5 ether, or about $9,327, in total.
"Personally, I think sending digital gifts will be the norm and [part of the] future because of how accessible it is," the 19-year-old says. "I wish this was a thing sooner, honestly. It saves time and wrapping paper and it's cooler, in my opinion."
For her mom, Imani, who is also based in San Antonio, plans to buy a World of Women NFT, she says. "My mom sold hers back in January for me to attend college. I would like to return the favor."
San Francisco-based Anisha Sunkerneni is looking forward to gifting her close friends and family their first digital assets, including Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domains and NFTs.
"Even more than NFTs, I think an ENS domain has the potential to really be tied to your on-chain personality and profile," the 26-year-old says. "Getting the ones you want is pretty special."
The ENS creates a domain, like ".com," for the Ethereum blockchain that represents an investor's cryptocurrency address. An ENS domain name appears as something like "YourName.eth," rather than the random string of letters and numbers that typically signifies your wallet.
Prices for ENS domains vary. One with five characters or more costs $5 in ether per year, while a four-character one costs $160 in ether per year and a three-character one costs $640 in ether per year, according to the ENS domains website. Three- and four-character ENS domain names cost more due to the smaller number available.
Sunkerneni got into crypto just this year, but "I see how important and big of a space it's transforming into, and I want to bring those I care about into the fold," she says. "Giving crypto and NFTs as gifts sounded like a natural option."
Allison Reichel is planning to send her family and friends the equivalent amount she'd usually spend on gifts or gift cards in cryptocurrency, but only if they are interested in receiving it.
"I believe that digital assets like bitcoin are something extremely valuable and represent many elements of both free markets and free choice, which means it's important that individuals choose to participate in these markets and don't feel pressured to," the 24-year-old says.
Reichel, who is based in Austin, Texas, plans to gift a mix of bitcoin, Ethereum and Solana. Currently, bitcoin is trading at around $46,953, according to Coin Metrics, but it's possible to buy fractional units called satoshis. Ether is trading at around $3,731, and SOL at $160.
"I like to try to stick with assets that I believe will be around for a while and hold their value, so while meme coins are fun, not really looking there," says Reichel.
Los Angeles-based Cooper Turley plans to spend about $10,000 on NFTs as gifts. The 26-year-old is also excited to gift ENS domains as a way to "welcome them into Web3," which is the decentralized iteration of the internet that powers blockchain-based applications like NFTs.
"I've bought a few music NFTs and have been going shopping on [platform] Nifty Gateway for old NFTs from prominent creators that could make as good gifts," he says.
Turley believes that "NFTs as gifts will have novelty for the next few years."
"The price point on most NFTs are high enough that they feel like a high-end gift, and for people without NFTs, these gifts feel more memorable as they're often a first-of-a-kind," he says.