NFTs on Polkadot — how Kanaria paves the way for them

Sirius Lee
Apr 29 · 9 min read

Recently, after being in the background for many years, NFTs became the hot trend again. NFTs get sold for millions, and the mainstream audience is interested in non-fungible collectibles like never before. But here’s the problem: only Ethereum has tools to easily issue, send and trade NFTs. All the other platforms are either too small or too unpopular to actually consider using them. Sure, you can mint them on Tron, but what are you going to do with your NFT series after that? Luckily, this problem is going to be solved soon, because NFTs are coming to Polkadot.

Why Polkadot is a better choice for issuing NFTs than Binance Chain, Tron or EOS? The answer is pretty obvious — because all the other networks are centralized, and nobody wants to store any valuable possessions in a centralized database. Polkadot, on the other hand, is decentralized and secure, its author, one of Ethereum’s co-founders Gavin Wood, took into account all Ethereum’s problems while designing this blockchain. The ecosystem of Polkadot and its canary network Kusama constantly grows, with many new teams and projects emerging, so the question of fully functional NFTs was just a matter of time. The RMRK project (read as “remark”) and its founder Bruno Škvorc were the first who came up with a set of tools that will allow users to easily issue new NFTs and even sell them on a special marketplace. But how does it work? Let’s dig deeper.

Here comes the tricky part. Kusama and Polkadot don’t support smart contracts at the relay chain level. Ethereum, on the other hand, supports them natively, thus its NFT tokens follow the ERC-721 token standard which defines how they can be issued, sent and how they store all metadata related to their traits. On Polkadot, the majority of tokens use the Substrate balances pallet, which gives them a very limited functionality — the standard implementation allows to check the specific asset information (symbol, name, decimals, token supply, etc), to check the balance for any address and to get the list of all assets in the network. It’s pretty obvious that there’s no room for metadata such as a link to some image which is usually the essence of an NFT.

RMRK solves it in a very elegant way. Even though Polkadot and its canary network Kusama don’t have smart contracts, the RMRK protocol interprets the custom messages, ‘remark extrinsics’, that can be added to any transaction, in a similar fashion to the old Bitcoin coloured coins concept. Thus it’s possible to add a layer of additional logic to the blockchain without on-chain logic. These messages can contain instructions to:

  1. create a collection (for example, ‘create a collection of 5 NFTs, take illustrations from that IPFS, the owner is this address’),
  2. list a single NFT of that collection for selling,
  3. to mint additional NFT for that collection (every RMRK NFT must be a part of a collection, even if it’s a single one, for backwards-compatibility with other NFT standards),
  4. to change the address of the issuer of the collection,
  5. to burn an NFT,
  6. to buy an NFT.

Those readers who are familiar with any scripting language will easily understand it. The RMRK protocol uses the Polkadot blockchain transactions simply as a vehicle for its own system, and it’s possible to encode any rules and build custom interpreters for them in the future. At the same time, for the whole network, it’s still a bunch of unimportant messages. So, on one hand, RMRK isn’t limited by Polkadot logic, on the other hand, Polkadot isn’t affected by contents of these messages. However, the current implementation is very basic — if any project wants to use RMRK pallet and add some additional functionality, for example allowing users to mint their NFTs, they can use it as a library to build upon it, but they will also need to develop their own frontend tools.

Since it’s not a smart-contract-based technology, there are some downsides to this custom messages approach. The first one comes from the fact that all blockchain messages are anchored to specific blocks. The state of any token can be checked by a simple call to the node, to get the current state of an RMRK NFT it’s necessary to check the whole blockchain and read every message, otherwise, you may miss an important operation, for example, destruction or burning of an NFT. Such synchronisation is very slow, it requires requesting information from archive nodes, which may take up to a day.

The second problem is double buying. If two or more people post the buying message for the same NFT to the block, all of them will send money to the seller, but only the buyer who was the first to post the message to the block will get the NFT. A system based on smart contracts would mean that money get returned automatically to all buyers who don’t get the NFT. With the RMRK implementation, it’s not possible.

However, both problems are partially solved in the latest RMRK 2.0 set of tools. The team launched an IPFS node with a snapshot of the latest state of the chain and a server for checking all current RMRK interactions to prevent double buys. The tools are currently being tested in the Kanaria project, no problems so far.

So, what is possible with the RMRK approach to the NFT technology? Every NFT issuer can set as many parameters\traits as they wish. Similar to CryptoKitties, all birds have various traits determined by randomness and by users’ interactions with their 1 phase, an egg.

Every bird has such traits as eyes, beak or mouth, background, foreground, body, headgear, wings, etc. Their look can be influenced by emojis sent to it by other users during its egg stage. Many fire emojis can result in a bird surrounded by a fire aura. Banana emojis can make it hold a banana etc. There are literally hundreds of emojis so the outcome can be very unexpected. It’s called ‘conditional rendering’. But it’s worth noting that emojis don’t increase the chance of getting a certain trait in a very drastic way, we’re talking about an increase of 0.0001%. In general, all traits are random.

Also, RMRK supports nested NFTs, which means that every NFT can have other additional NFTS attached to it. In Kanaria, they can be received randomly after hatching an egg, so the bird owner will end up having 2 or more NFTs instead of just one. The probability of getting a nested NFT is also influenced by certain emojis and mostly depends on a random number generator. Birds can hold bananas, axes, can wear snow boots or have robot wings. Unlike the regular traits such as facial expression, skin colour etc, these child NFTs can be transferred to another account and equipped to a different bird (using a special USE command). According to RMRK design, it would even be technically possible to equip these cosmetic items to NFTs from other future collections with some amount of work put into integrating them.

What’s the purpose?

The Kanaria project serves many purposes. First of all, it’s a tech demo of RMRK 2.0. It shows all its features in action to interest all developers that might potentially use it. The second purpose is also very clear: the team wants to sell as many NFT eggs as possible to secure funds for further development. Until now, all developments were funded by Bruno, thus the egg sale will help the team to continue further development without thinking about financial problems.

The third purpose is a bit unexpected: all birds will give their owners access to various bonuses via the trait system. Every bird will have a predetermined amount of slots that can be filled with various traits. Some traits will give discounts on specific RMRK products, some traits will even make these products free to use. Initially, almost all slots will be empty, filled with a “free trait” as a placeholder, but in the future, it will be possible to replace these filler traits with any trait that will be published by the team. The number of slots and the list of available traits is determined by rarity.

Is there any reason to buy an egg?

RMRK token Fairdrop

The RMRK team is very firm in their statement that Kanaria eggs aren’t an investment asset. The future demand for these NFTs is unclear, and buying them only for speculation might be a bad idea. But if you want to support the project and become the owner of the first NFT in the Polkadot-Kusama ecosystem, it might be interesting for you. This is the historical moment for Polkadot. Also, it might be the only way to get bonuses for RMRK’s future products. And the last reason is the fairdrop of RMRK tokens to all egg holders, who had an egg or a bird in their address on June 2nd. It would be possible to buy some RMRK tokens later but here’s an opportunity to receive them for free, in addition to buying an egg.

1. Follow our link to the project page and connect to the platform through the Polkadot.js wallet (​)

2. Go to the section “Your Nest” → Open Synaps → Complete the KYC

3. Complete the KYC and then you can return to the main page, choose any type you want and claim an egg.

There are 4 types of eggs, the number of slots of each type and the rarity of their accessory depends on how many eggs of this type are claimed before the sale is over:

  1. Super Founder Egg — the best and the most expensive one, with 5 slots and legendary accessories, all of them are already claimed by the way.
  2. Founder Egg — has 2–5 slots and epic accessory, price: 100 KSM.
  3. Rare Egg — has 2–4 slots and rare accessory, price: 20 KSM.
  4. Limited Edition Egg — has 1–3 slots, the most basic egg, price: 2 KSM.

To hatch an egg, it’s mandatory to collect 10 🐣emojis on it before May 17th, thus it would require some teamwork. The amount of required hatching emojis may be lowered later and this pre-hatching period may be extended, we’ll inform you about any changes. Please also note that you can submit only one emoji from one account once per NFT, a second try will remove the previous emoji. You can use alt accounts too if you want. Once you collect them, click the “Hatch” button in the Kanaria interface on the page of your egg. The button will become available after May 17th. All unhatched eggs will stay in the egg form forever, so don’t miss this important part.

We hope this article helped you to understand better the concept of RMRK NFTs, and the importance of the Kanaria project. If you want to contribute to the project, you can buy an egg here, we wish you all luck, stay tuned!

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Polkadot Ecosystem PromoTeam

We are the international team of Polkadot fans with experience in different activities– community growing, business communications and strategy, promotion, advertising, mathematics, programming, entrepreneurship and others. Our main task — increase the value of Polkadot and Subst

Sirius Lee

Written by

PromoTeam member🌐

Polkadot Ecosystem PromoTeam

We are the international team of Polkadot fans with experience in different activities– community growing, business communications and strategy, promotion, advertising, mathematics, programming, entrepreneurship and others. Our main task — increase the value of Polkadot and Subst