Ethereum startup Immutable aims to cut NFT costs with new Layer 2 scaling protocol

Immutable, the startup behind the Ethereum-based trading card game Gods Unchained, has launched the first phase of its Layer 2 scaling protocol, dubbed Immutable X.

Immutable X aims to solve one of the primary economic issues facing non-fungible tokens (NFTs): the high cost of minting and transacting on the Ethereum network. NFTs are, put simply, blockchain-based digital certificates tied to artworks, gaming items and other unique types of digital assets, and their growth in popularity has shined a light on the spending required to actually make use of them. 

To be sure, the high cost of transacting on Ethereum isn't limited to NFTs. As of April 7, the average transaction fee is $20.19, according to data collected by The Block, with more complicated transactions requiring even more gas to compute. What's more, other startups in the Ethereum ecosystem are also working on Layer 2 scaling solutions

Immutable is betting that its technology approach -- giving users two distinct scaling options under the Immutable X framework -- will drastically cut the costs associated with minting and using NFTs. Thursday's rollout involves the launch of a marketplace on mainnet that's exclusively available to Gods Unchained users, who can now trade and purchase cards with the aid of the protocol. 

Immutable has drawn backing from investors like Naspers Ventures, Galaxy Digital and Apex Capital Partners. The launch comes a week after NFT marketplace OpenSea announced support for the scaling solution. 

As noted by the development team, Immutable X will be expanded on in stages. In the second phase, Immutable X will be made available to other exchanges and decentralized applications. During phases 3 and 4, the protocol will be enhanced with new optimizations and scalability features, including liquidity incentives like drops and fiat support. For the final phase, Immutable plans to share its vision for physical assets like real estate, looking beyond digital ownership via NFTs. 

At launch, the Immutable team also highlighted a commitment to carbon neutrality, and as such the startup will purchase carbon credits to offset the consumption of gas -- required for transaction on Ethereum -- for corresponding NFT activity carried out via the protocol. 

“With today’s Immutable X Alpha release, we’ve made this vision reality. Any NFT can now be traded, earned, shared, gamed and collected completely gas-free on Ethereum,” Robbie Ferguson, Immutable C-Founder, said in a statement.