tl:dr Check current ETH Gas Prices here.
What is ETH Gas?
Gwei is a unit of gas that is used in the Ethereum network. Gas is used by miners to process transactions and it is one of the key differences between Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
“The amount of gas you need depends on how large of a contract you’re trying to execute and how fast you want to execute it.” If you’re willing to wait for a transaction to complete, the price typically drops. Understanding this concept is important for both NFT art creators and collectors alike.
To get technical: gas fees are paid in Ethereum’s native currency, ether (ETH). Gas prices are denoted in Gwei, which itself is a denomination of ETH – each Gwei is equal to 0.000000001 ETH (10-9 ETH). For example, instead of saying that your gas costs 0.000000001 Ether, you can say your gas costs 1 Gwei.
Why does Gas exist?
Ethereum’s gas is an essential regulator that prevents anyone from spamming the network. All computation over Ethereum stretches a measure meant to maintain security in place. Gas limits, paid for by each computational execution, help make sure that malicious individuals can’t use unsorted loads of computation power to become de-facto coders on the Ethereum network and hijack the future they helped build together.
The impact of Gas on NFT art and artists
Gas is a double-edged sword. When gas prices are high, it becomes prohibitive for up and coming artists to create, mint, and even buy other pieces of work. Some artists attempt to price in the cost of gas into their works (meaning they are willing to lower the overall cost of their art, making it more accessible.) This presents a catch-22 as the perceived “value” of the art is diminished when collectors are deciding if they’re willing to spend 25-57% of the total acquisition cost on gas fees. Which presents a challenge for artists trying to make a name for themselves. On the other side of the coin, artists may overcharge for their art (paying larger marketplace fees and gas fees) to publish their art before they have a reputation of being able to charge that much.
Extreme NFT Gas Situations
In some scenarios we’ve seen gas prices even exceed the price of a piece of art that is being created making it irresponsible for an artist to even mint their art online.
Possible NFT Gas Solutions
Give the NFT Artists more control of when they mint pieces of work. Many of the marketplaces only allow artists to produce work at the time they click mint. There should be ways for artists to select how long they are willing to wait for the network congestion to die down before publishing. NFTGateway (we believe) already incorporates this. They don’t mint the art until after it’s purchased during a drop. They have explicit disclaimers that the art may take up to 24 hours to appear in wallets. While we haven’t seen this lengthy of a delay, we have experienced first hand waits of up to 2 hours for expensive drops to appear.
Unused Gas is returned to the User
Finally, it’s important to understand that not all transactions use the entirety of the gas. This could be explained better and we need to do deeper analysis to understand what percentage of gas is returned on average. But essentially, you’re agreeing to a maximum prices of gas fees you’ll spend to complete the transaction.