Bitcoin Ordinals: A New NFT Standard on Bitcoin Blockchain

Kerala Blockchain Academy
7 min readJun 5, 2023

By Anju B Nair, Sr. Technical Content Writer Kerala Blockchain Academy.

Ethereum NFTs have established their dominance in digital assets, offering various investment opportunities and unforgettable experiences. But what if I tell you there’s a new way to purchase NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain? Yes, you heard it right, Bitcoin NFTs. While NFTs were primarily traded and minted on Ethereum-based platforms, the latest buzz is about Bitcoin NFTs, also known as Ordinal NFTs or simply Ordinals. The term has quite become a buzzword in the shortest of time, opening up new possibilities at the intersection of Bitcoin and NFTs. In this blog, let’s delve into the realm of Bitcoin ordinals and unravel how they operate.

As we all know, Bitcoin has always been at the forefront of the world of cryptocurrencies, pioneering new technologies and concepts. Introducing a groundbreaking innovation in the realm of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called Bitcoin ordinals, these unique identifiers are changing how we perceive and interact with digital assets, particularly in the realm of crypto art.

Developed by Casey Rodarmor, this pioneering protocol operates on the Bitcoin blockchain, allowing users to associate digital content, such as artwork, text, or videos, with a distinct satoshi — a fractional unit equal to one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin. By leveraging the smallest divisible unit of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Ordinals ensure the immutability and permanence of the attached content, eliminating the need for third-party validation.

How are Ordinals different from its NFT Predecessors?

Similar to other NFTs, Bitcoin Ordinals serve as unique digital assets that can be verified on the blockchain. However, what sets them apart from other NFTs is their integration with the Bitcoin blockchain instead of Ethereum or alternative blockchains. This distinction enhances the value and potential applications of Bitcoin Ordinals, providing a novel approach to preserving and trading digital creations securely and autonomously.

Bitcoin Ordinals provide a way to create verifiable, scarce, and unique digital assets on the Bitcoin blockchain. By leveraging the power of blockchain technology, artists can mint their artwork as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and assign them a distinct ordinal value. This value represents the ordinal position of the NFT in a particular collection, making each piece truly one-of-a-kind.

One notable example of how Bitcoin ordinals are changing the crypto art market is the emergence of “Bitcoin Punks.” Inspired by the popular CryptoPunks project, which created a collection of 10,000 unique 24x24 pixel art characters on the Ethereum blockchain, Bitcoin Punks takes a similar approach but uses Bitcoin ordinals instead. Each Bitcoin Punk is represented by a unique ordinal value on the Bitcoin network, making it scarce and valuable to collectors.

Another fascinating example is the concept of “Planetary Ordinals.” Artists are creating digital representations of planets, moons, and other celestial bodies as NFTs with Bitcoin ordinals. These unique digital artworks allow collectors to own a piece of the cosmos, and the ordinal value associated with each piece adds an extra layer of uniqueness and scarcity.

Bitcoin NFT and Its Workings

To understand how Bitcoin NFTs work, it’s important to know the two terms- Ordinals and Inscriptions. Ordinals order satoshis or sats, while inscriptions assign assets to individual satoshis.

Sounds complex?? Don’t worry; let’s break it down.

Have you heard about the unique serial numbers embedded in individual satoshis, the smallest unit of Bitcoin? These serial numbers are known as Ordinals, and they are assigned according to the ordinal theory in the order of their mining. The very first sat in the first block has an ordinal number of 0, while the second sat has an ordinal number of 1, and so on. Interestingly, the last sat of the first block has an ordinal number of 4,999,999,999. This innovative system ensures the uniqueness of each sat and allows for more precise tracking and identification of individual bitcoins.

Bitcoin ordinals function by providing a distinct identifier for every satoshi within the Bitcoin network, enabling the tracking and exchange of satoshis across the blockchain. A BTC token consists of 100 million satoshis.

Bitcoin NFTs work by assigning an NFT to a specific satoshi, which becomes the unique identifier for that NFT. The metadata associated with the NFT is stored on the blockchain, and ownership can be verified by checking the NFT’s ordinal number.

Introduction of Inscriptions

The new protocol of Ordinals came into existence in January 2023 as a result of the introduction of inscriptions on Bitcoin’s Mainnet, facilitating the creation of Ordinals, which are actually NFTs on Bitcoin. Inscriptions are the process of assigning assets to individual satoshis and are digital artefacts that are native to the Bitcoin blockchain. As these digital assets are stored on the Bitcoin blockchain, they possess the advantages of an unparalleled piece of art that is genuinely one-of-a-kind and authenticated on the Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin Ordinals and The NFT Market Place

The rise of Bitcoin NFTs has opened up thrilling prospects for artists, collectors, and investors alike. Bitcoin Ordinals, in particular, bring a unique twist to the conventional NFT model by incorporating serial numbers imprinted in a single, distinctive sat or satoshi. This innovation introduced a fresh dimension of scarcity, as each Bitcoin Ordinal NFT stands as an irreplicable masterpiece. As the demand for Bitcoin Ordinals NFTs continues to soar, it becomes imperative to establish an NFT marketplace exclusively dedicated to this type of NFT. Such a marketplace would empower collectors and investors to effortlessly explore, purchase, and sell Bitcoin Ordinals NFTs in a secure and reliable environment. One notable challenge in establishing an NFT marketplace for Bitcoin Ordinals NFTs is ensuring the platform’s security. Given the substantial value associated with these NFTs, it is imperative that the marketplace offers comprehensive security measures to safeguard both buyers and sellers against fraud and hacking attempts. Implementing robust security measures such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and regular security audits would be essential.

Did you know the Ordinals has introduced a groundbreaking feature that enables users to transfer their Ethereum ERC-721-based nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to the Bitcoin blockchain? This exciting development comes with the launch of the BRC-721E standard, a collaboration between the Ordinals market, a prominent marketplace built on the Ordinals platform, and the Bitcoin Miladys NFT collection. With the advent of the BRC-721E standard, the conversion of unalterable and verifiable ERC-721 NFTs to Ordinals has become a reality.

Beyond NFT Marketplace

While ordinals primarily find their use in the art world, the potential for Bitcoin ordinals extends well beyond the realm of art and collectibles. They are experimentally employed for identity verification, supply chain tracking, and even in the field of medicine. Any scenario that requires an unalterable and enduring record likely stands to benefit from the utilization of Bitcoin ordinals. Let’s explore some potential use cases for Bitcoin ordinals:

  1. Identity Verification: Bitcoin ordinals can be used to establish and verify digital identities. By assigning a unique ordinal value to an individual’s digital identity, it becomes tamper-proof and easily verifiable on the blockchain. This could have significant implications for various industries, such as online voting systems, secure access control, and identity verification in the financial sector.
  2. Supply Chain Tracking: Bitcoin ordinals can play a crucial role in tracking and verifying the authenticity of products throughout the supply chain. By assigning unique ordinals to each product or batch, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers can easily trace the origin, history, and authenticity of goods, mitigating the risk of counterfeiting and ensuring transparency.
  3. Medical Records and Research: In the field of medicine, Bitcoin ordinals can be utilized to create immutable and secure records of patient data, medical research, and clinical trials. This can enhance data integrity, streamline research processes, and ensure patient privacy.
  4. Intellectual Property Rights: Bitcoin ordinals can provide a means of verifying and protecting intellectual property rights. Artists, musicians, and content creators can assign unique ordinals to their creations, making it easy to prove ownership and authenticity. This has the potential to revolutionize copyright management and licensing in the digital age.

Conclusion

Bitcoin ordinals inscription has emerged as a game-changer in the crypto art market, revolutionizing how digital artworks are authenticated and owned. By inscribing unique metadata directly onto the Bitcoin blockchain, artists and collectors can establish a secure and verifiable record of ownership and provenance. While the Bitcoin ordinals are currently focused on transforming the crypto art market by creating unique and verifiable digital assets, their potential extends beyond art and collectibles. As blockchain technology continues to evolve, the adoption of Bitcoin ordinals and their integration into various industries may lead to transformative changes in how we establish trust and secure information in the digital age.

References:

https://bitcoinmagazine.com/

CoinDesk News

Binance

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