Bitcoin NFTs Back in Spotlight as Ordinals Cross 350K Daily Inscriptions

Bitcoin Ordinals, a method of generating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through a process called inscribing, debuted in January, bringing the NFT and smart contract narrative to the Bitcoin blockchain.

AccessTimeIconJul 11, 2023 at 7:17 a.m. UTC
Updated Jul 11, 2023 at 6:33 p.m. UTC

CORRECTION (July 11, 07:30 UTC): Corrects number of inscriptions in the headline and text to 350K daily from 3.5M total.

Activity in Bitcoin Ordinals NFTs, a method of generating Bitcoin non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through a process called inscribing, has picked up in the wake of the BRC-69 token standard launch.

The number of new inscriptions rose to over 350,000 on Monday, according to data tracked by blockchain analytics firm Glassnode.

The daily tally has surged by over 250% since Ordinals launchpad Luminex unveiled the Bitcoin Request for Comment (BRC)-69 token standard on July 3. The modified version of the BRC-20 standard was launched to reduce the cost of inscriptions for Ordinals by over 90%.

"With BRC69, we can reduce the costs of inscriptions for Ordinals collections by over 90%. This reduction is achieved through a 4-step process: (1) inscribe traits, (2) deploy collection, (3) compile collection, and (4) mint assets," Luminex said in a Tweet thread.

"The brilliance of BRC69 lies in its simplicity. Minters only need to inscribe a single line of text instead of a full image. This text allows the final image to be automatically rendered on all ordinals-frontends, using solely on-chain resources, thanks to recursive inscriptions," Luminex added.

So far, BTC-69 seems to have delivered on its promise.

Ordinals fee remains low and well below the highs reached in May (Dune Analytics)
Ordinals fee remains low and well below the highs reached in May (Dune Analytics) (Dune Analytics)

While the number of new inscriptions has surged, the daily fees paid for inscriptions remain stagnant, according to data tracked by Dune Analytics.

Ordinals went live in January, bringing the NFT and smart contracts narrative to the Bitcoin blockchain and spurring investor interest in tokens like STX, the native token of Bitcoin layer 2 Stacks Network.

Per Glassnode, the Ordinals boom can be divided into two waves, with the first representing activity between early February and late April. The image-based inscriptions led the first wave, while high free-paying text-based inscriptions led the second wave, which began in May.

"By inscription count, Wave 2 was an order of magnitude larger, however activity has been in consistent decline since May. There has been a brief uptick in text inscriptions this week, however unconfirmed transactions across Bitcoin mempools are starting to clear overall," Glassnode's weekly report published Monday said.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Omkar Godbole

Omkar Godbole is a Co-Managing Editor on CoinDesk's Markets team.