What are Bitcoin Ordinals? All About Bitcoin NFTs

What are Bitcoin Ordinals - All About Bitcoin NFTs

Bitcoin NFTs surge amidst collectibles bear market, but what makes Ordinals different?

Just when no one expected, Bitcoin Ordinals emerged and dominated the trending topics in Web3 and the NFT market. Suddenly, Bitcoin NFTs were the talk of the town, with even blue-chip collections everywhere betting on this innovative technology. Why did Ordinals bring that spark of hope in every degen’s heart? Well, it starts with the mother of all blockchains – Bitcoin.


What are Bitcoin Ordinals?

Bitcoin Ordinals is a protocol that breathes new life into the quintessential blockchain, Bitcoin. Unveiled in January 2023, the Ordinals protocol operates by assigning unique identification to each individual satoshi (the smallest unit of Bitcoin) and appending additional data via an inscription.

Such an innovative layer brings a new dimension to Bitcoin, opening the gate to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Yes, you heard it right! NFTs, previously the exclusive domain of smart-contract-based chains like Ethereum, Solana, and BNB Chain, have found a new playground on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Why everyone is talking about Bitcoin NFTs

DappRadar’s latest NFT Report shows that Bitcoin is now the 2nd most popular NFT blockchain in the space. At the time of writing, more than 11 million Ordinals have been minted.

Dune Analytics Bitcoin Ordinals
Source: Dune Analytics

At the same time, the number of transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain soared.

Moreover, blue-chip NFT collections on Ethereum have already launched some non-fungible tokens with Bitcoin, spiraling up their mentions at a time retail is simply uninterested in the subject.

For example, Yuga Labs launched TwelveFold using Ordinals, while Milady Maker built a one-way bridge to the Bitcoin blockchain. In addition, Dust Labs put some of their DeGods onto the Bitcoin blockchain. 

How Ordinals work

The Ordinals protocol adds a unique serial number to each satoshi, turning this smallest Bitcoin unit into a unique entity. The concept, simple in theory, has profound implications for the future of Bitcoin and the broader Web3 ecosystem.

The serial numbers given to satoshis are derived from the order of mining and transactions, and this information serves as a stable identifier for each ‘inscribed’ satoshi.

This innovation transforms Bitcoin from a solely value-transfer protocol into a more versatile network capable of hosting digital artwork, audio files, and videos.

The Ordinal theory

In the context of Bitcoin, Ordinal Theory underpins the identification and tracking of each satoshi in the Bitcoin supply chain, from the moment of mining to the entire lifespan of transactions. The theory’s implementation became possible due to the Taproot upgrade in November 2021, eliminating the need for a sidechain or separate token.

Based on the total supply of bitcoins, Ordinal Theory establishes the rarity of different satoshis. The hierarchy includes “common,” “uncommon,” “rare,” “epic,” “legendary,” and “mythic” ranks, each denoting a unique level of rarity and corresponding to the supply and position of the satoshis in the blockchain.

Famous Bitcoin NFTs

As with any disruptive technology, Bitcoin NFTs have seen both brilliant success stories and disheartening scams. But despite these hurdles, the Bitcoin Ordinals ecosystem has experienced steady growth, with an increasing number of users contributing a diverse array of content.

Top Bitcoin NFTs


Bitcoin NFT collection TwelveFold by Yuga Labs brought generative art to the mother chain. They introduced 288 unique assets in March 2023, generating 735 BTC in sales (or $16.5 million).

Yuga Labs TwelveFold Bitcoin Ordinals Generative Art NFTs

Despite only receiving the NFTs a week after the auction, investors bid millions of dollars on these artistic digital assets. Yuga Labs is behind some of the greatest names in NFTs by total volume traded, like Bored Ape Yacht Club and the community saw this event as a historical moment. Bitcoin is once again witnessing – or causing – a cultural shift in tech.

DeGods Bitcoin NFTs

DeGods, another collection that often sits in our Top NFT Rankings, made a bold move with a Bitcoin NFT minting experience in March. It migrated 535 NFTs from its original collection to Bitcoin, creating a buzz in the community.

DeGods NFTs on Bitcoin

The collection by Dust Labs, DeGods remains one of the most promising new blue-chip NFT brands in the market. Read our comprehensive guide about DeGods.

Scams? Copycats on Bitcoin

The Bitcoin NFT hype isn’t just attracting originals, it’s also a home for successful NFT copycats. 

Bitcoin Punks and Ordinal Punks, Bitcoin clones of the famous OG collection CryptoPunks became leading collections in May. The same happened with the popular collection Nakamigos – it gained its own copycat Bitamigos that managed to give potential scammers rewards for people’s naiveness.

Although there are many ways to spot NFT scams, there is never a dull moment in Web3 and anyone can fall prey.

Bitcoin NFTs before Ordinals

Almost a decade before the introduction of Ordinals, NFTs existed on top of the Bitcoin blockchain through Counterparty. These NFTs have now been bridged to Ethereum. During the 2021 bull run, a RarePepe card was sold on Ethereum through Emblem Vault for $683,750.

Early bitcoin NFTs RarePepe card

This was before when Bitcoin CounterpartyXCP, a Layer-2 that enables NFTs on Bitcoin, was popular. In fact, these Bitcoin NFTs go back to 2014. However, it isn’t likely that they will live to see other bright days ahead. Counterparty Bitcoin NFTs are more like collectible relics from the past.

What’s better? Bitcoin NFTs vs. Ethereum NFTs

Ethereum-based NFTs have long enjoyed the limelight, thanks to Ethereum’s robust smart contract technology. However, the recent emergence of Bitcoin NFTs introduces a new contender in the arena.

Ethereum NFTs benefit from a well-established ecosystem, where smart contracts can give rise to a wide range of NFT attributes. This has led to flourishing marketplaces rich with artistic and collectible treasures.

Bitcoin NFTs, on the other hand, now employ the innovative Ordinals protocol. Each satoshi is transformed into a unique NFT living directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. With no need for sidechains or additional tokens, Bitcoin NFTs bear the simplicity and immutability of Bitcoin. However, this also comes with higher transaction costs as the blockchain blocks fill up faster thanks to the images minted onto the blockchain. 

Comparing the two is a nuanced task, as they represent different paradigms within the NFT universe. Ethereum’s strengths lie in its mature, complex ecosystem and smart contract capabilities, while Bitcoin’s Ordinals offer a minimalist approach grounded in Bitcoin’s inherent security. Both have unique value propositions and can coexist, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the NFT space. Your choice depends on personal preference and what you seek in the expansive world of NFTs.

How to mint your own Bitcoin NFTs?

So, you’re intrigued by Bitcoin NFTs and want to create your own? Here’s a brief outline of the process, which might require some tech-savviness as it’s still in its early stages.

  1. Start by setting up a full Bitcoin node for secure transaction verification. 
  2. Next, add a Taproot-compatible wallet to your node—Taproot is crucial as it enables the inscription of satoshis, making Bitcoin NFT creation possible.

With these set, you’re ready to inscribe your satoshi, turning it into a unique NFT. This could represent anything, so get creative. Ensure your chosen wallet has a “coin control” feature to prevent unintended spending of your new NFTs.

Keep in mind, Bitcoin will be needed to cover transaction fees for the inscription process. As the tech advances, the creation process will likely become easier. So, stay curious and keep creating in this vibrant crypto realm.

There are also easier ways to mint your Bitcoin NFT. The NFT marketplace Gamma has created a user interface for minting Ordinals. You just need to make sure that your Bitcoin wallet supports Taproot, and you will need around $50 of BTC in your wallet to make things happen.

Where to buy Bitcoin NFTs?

With the ascent of Bitcoin NFTs, options to buy these unique digital assets have also increased. You can purchase them directly from the creator, which offers authenticity and a direct contribution to their work.

Online NFT marketplaces are starting to list Bitcoin NFTs, providing a variety of choices and a secure platform for transactions. In June 2023 the centralized Binance NFT Marketplace, for example, started supporting Bitcoin NFTs.

Alternatively, you could engage in peer-to-peer transactions via online forums or dedicated platforms, which offer minimal intermediaries but require caution due to potential risks. Whichever route you choose, always verify the credibility of the seller and the platform.

Is the future of NFTs in Bitcoin Ordinals?

Bitcoin Ordinals bring an exciting twist to the world of NFTs, broadening the scope of Bitcoin beyond just value transfer. They’ve introduced a new facet to digital ownership, with the potential to influence the NFT landscape significantly.

However, it’s important to remember that the NFT sphere is vibrant and multi-faceted. The future will likely see many platforms shaping the industry’s progression.

While Bitcoin Ordinals offer a compelling proposition, the evolution of NFTs will be a collaborative effort across various blockchains.

Pros and cons of Bitcoin NFTs

One of the biggest advantages of Bitcoin NFTs is their ability to store all data directly on the blockchain. This offers a level of security and immutability that is attractive to many investors and collectors. Furthermore, the adoption of Bitcoin NFTs has been impressive, with over 11 million Ordinals already minted, indicating a robust and rapidly growing ecosystem.

The main drawback here is the lack of a system for creator royalties. This can potentially discourage artists and creators, who often rely on these residual incomes from secondary sales in the traditional NFT markets.

The exact impact of Bitcoin Ordinals remains to be seen, but the NFT future is certainly diverse and promising.

Discover all about NFTs with DappRadar

At DappRadar, we keep our fingers on the pulse of the rapidly changing web3 ecosystem. Whether you’re a seasoned crypto enthusiast or just dipping your toes in the waters, DappRadar’s tools and stats offer comprehensive insights into the world of dapps, including Bitcoin Ordinals.

Stay tuned to our platform for more updates, guides, and listicles on the hottest dapps in town.

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