What Are The Disadvantages Of NFTs?

Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD
10 Min Read

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have exploded in popularity recently as a way to buy and sell digital artwork, music, videos, tweets, and more. While the emerging NFT market has clear potential, the excitement is tempered by a variety of concerns.

In this in-depth article, we will explore some of the key disadvantages and risks that come with NFTs. Looking at challenges like environmental impact, overhype, security and market volatility can give a balanced perspective on the NFT landscape.

By objectively evaluating both upsides and downsides, individuals and institutions can make informed decisions about participating in this new crypto frontier. Let’s dive in and discuss some areas of caution when approaching NFTs.

Environmental Impacts Of NFTs

One commonly discussed downside of NFT technology is the potential negative environmental impact. This stems from the computational energy required to mine cryptocurrencies and power blockchain networks.

Most NFTs currently reside on the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum relies on a proof-of-work consensus mechanism for verifying transactions. This process is energy intensive, requiring powerful computers to solve complex algorithms.

Research from 2021 estimated the Ethereum network had a carbon footprint comparable to the country of New Zealand. Critics argue this level of energy usage is wasteful and environmentally reckless.

However, solutions are emerging. Ethereum has transitioned to a more eco-friendly proof-of-stake model expected to reduce energy usage by 99.5%. Flow blockchain created by Dapper Labs uses proof-of-stake already.

While environmental concerns remain valid, blockchain technology and infrastructure is rapidly evolving to address these challenges.

Excess Hype and Speculation

Another common criticism is that NFT trade volume is hugely inflated by hype, speculation, and “get rich quick” attitudes. This raises questions on whether interest is sustainable long-term.

Digital art and collectibles with little inherent utility have sold for millions. For example, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for nearly $3M in 2021. Many think prices are far detached from underlying value.

Herd mentality and FOMO (fear of missing out) have led many to purchase NFTs as speculative assets or “lottery tickets” in hopes of big gains, rather than for meaningful adoption. Critics argue this hype artificially inflated a bubble poised to pop.

However, bubbles driven by speculation are common early in new technological shifts as interest gains momentum. More grounded analysis of use cases and business models can steer the industry toward stability.

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Lack of Regulation and Oversight

The open decentralized ethos of blockchain creates advantages, but also makes the NFT landscape rife with risk due to lack of regulation and accountability.

Limited oversight has enabled issues like copyright infringement, fraud, plagiarism, security breaches, market manipulation, and more with relative impunity. 

For example, artists have found their work minted into NFTs without consent to profit others. Widespread stealing of digital artwork for NFT sale has angered many creators.

Governance and regulation are still playing catch up. But expect more oversight mechanisms to emerge that balance innovation with appropriate protections.

Rampant Market Manipulation

Another downside in the current NFT landscape is immature markets rife with manipulation and other questionable tactics used to gain profits.

In a lightly regulated environment, practices like wash trading, spoofing, pumping and dumping, and insider trading are unfortunately common. This distorts true NFT valuations and creates an uneven playing field.

For example, inflated sales numbers through seller collusion give false impressions of demand and value. Prominent collectors can “pump up” certain projects for personal gain.

Mature regulations will take time to emerge. But in the meantime, buyers must be cautious of manipulation distorting markets and prices.

Security Risks and Theft

Storing thousands or even millions of dollars worth of NFTs digitally comes with a substantial risk of theft and security breaches. Numerous collectors have lost valuable NFTs already.

Experts warn that the cryptography securing NFT ownership could become compromised by future quantum computing. The codes protecting your digital wallet and assets could become insecure.


Individuals are also vulnerable to spoofing attacks, phishing scams, and other hacks aimed at stealing wallet keys and NFT logins. An estimated $100+ million in NFTs were stolen in 2022 alone.

Robust security practices are a must, and even then, holders face technical risks. For those without specialized expertise, this remains a daunting downside.

Limited Utility and Value

Skeptics argue many NFTs themselves provide limited inherent utility or value beyond speculation. Their worth is principally derived from scarcity and perception alone.

For example, many early NFT art projects like CryptoPunks contained procedurally generated low-resolution images. Despite selling for millions, they offer little more than proof-of-ownership bragging rights.

Even when linked to creative works, the intrinsic value beyond hype remains debatable. If demand wanes for inherently useless NFTs, their market could crash.

Focusing on use cases that provide real utility, access or ownership rights can establish more grounded value for NFTs beyond just speculation.

Volatility and Unpredictability

The NFT market is known for its dramatic price swings, volatility and difficulty predicting trends. Valuations fluctuate wildly based on hype, memes, speculation and herd mentalities.

Limited historical data and immature understanding of the market dynamics make valuations a challenge. The volatility also cuts both ways – while profits can be immense, crashes can be sudden and devastating.

For example, the average sale price for Bored Ape NFTs swung from around $200,000 down to $80,000 in a matter of months in 2022 based on cooling hype. Such unpredictable markets make informed decisions difficult.

Lack of Recourse for Fraud

The decentralized and pseudonymous nature of NFTs and blockchain creates opportunities for con artists and fraudsters as well. Immutability means fraudulent transactions and activity cannot be reversed or undone.

Cons like pump-and-dump schemes, rug pulls, phishing sites, fake collections, and doctored roadmaps can separate victims from their money in an instant with little to no recourse.

And since identities behind wallets and projects are often unknown, seeking legal justice against scammers is virtually impossible. For now, “buyer beware” remains the motto when transacting.

Questionable Social Value

Some criticize NFTs as providing little social value or contribution to culture compared to their excessive profit-seeking and carbon footprints.

They argue NFT manias primarily enrich tech bros, crypto pioneers and wealthy collectors while ignoring average citizens. The focus on money is decoupled from other human benefits.

Supporters counter that NFTs provide new ways for creators to monetize and engage with fans. They also open digital art collecting to broader audiences.

There are sound cases on both sides. But determining true net value for society remains complex and debatable.

Uncertain Mainstream Appeal

Despite rapid growth, the mainstream appeal and adoption of NFTs beyond current enthusiast communities remains uncertain. Convincing the general public of their value may prove challenging.

Mass understanding of blockchain and Web3 concepts is still low. Appreciating digital scarcity and ownership seems foreign to many. And NFTs remain strongly associated with niche crypto subcultures for now.

Until uses cases with mass appeal emerge, NFTs may remain restricted to devoted hobbyist circles. Their long-term viability as a $100B+ asset class requires broader buy-in.


NFTs certainly present exciting potential as digital assets and collectibles. But like any new technology, they also come with an array of disadvantages worth understanding before investing or participating.

Environmental impacts, security risks, market volatility, overhype, and more present clear downsides. However, many of these can be mitigated as blockchain infrastructure and regulation matures.

There are still many open debates on the ultimate benefits and sustainability of NFTs. By carefully weighing both the pros and cons, individuals can reach informed conclusions on their stance regarding NFTs.

The disruptive power of blockchain is only starting to be realized. As the technology evolves, NFTs may overcome current challenges on the path to mass adoption. But a measured view recognizing their limitations is important, so expectations remain realistic.

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Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD is a medical doctor by profession, an author, a financial literacy and digital assets enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a growing philanthropist.
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