What are Bitcoin NFTs Ordinals and how do they work?

By  Ivan Dikalenko 826 24 Feb 2023
Photo - What are Bitcoin NFTs Ordinals and how do they work?

The decentralized Bitcoin network now has a brand-new use case. Digital art collectors can now store their NFTs directly in BTC blocks.

NFTs on blockchain: initial attempts

The designers of the Counterparty and Stacks protocols attempted to upload images and videos to the bitcoin blockchain a few years ago. The developers combined the functionality of tokens, smart contracts, and even the BTC blockchain in them.

Collectible cards for the video game Spells of Genesis (2015) and pictures of the well-known frog Rare Pepes (2016) are examples of early NFT projects. At the time, some members of the crypto community did not support it and actively discouraged such activities on the BTC blockchain.

The developers of Ethereum, who were seeking additional justifications for their progeny (all three projects entered the market almost simultaneously), are thought to have supported the skepticism of cryptocurrency enthusiasts regarding Counterparty and Stacks.  

It is called a free ride. Given that the overwhelming majority — >90% — application for the bitcoin blockchain is currency use, using full nodes as dumb data storage terminals is simply abusing an all-volunteer network resource

stated Jeff Garzik, a well-known blockchain developer and bitcoin enthusiast.

Ordinals are non-fungible tokens on Bitcoin

Casey Rodarmor is a former Bitcoin Core contributor who designed Ordinals. He came up with a way to include videos and images to a satoshi (the smallest unit of a bitcoin or 1/100,000,000 BTC). Ordinals, in contrast to Counterparty and Stacks, enables NFTs to be directly stored on the blockchain as opposed to linking to an image on a third-party website. These features are only available in a small number of NFTs running on Ethereum. The majority of them lead to external web resources. Another distinction is that on Ethereum, each NFT has its own token, whereas Ordinals are linked to individual satoshis.

By the way, BTC could only store up to 40 bytes of data during the Counterparty and Stacks era. This number has now increased to 4 MB as a result of several upgrades.

Eric Wall, a former blockchain and cryptocurrency consultant at Nasdaq, claims that storing JPEG NFTs in BTC is seven times less expensive than in Ethereum.

How do ordinary users use Ordinals?

The release of Ordinals received just as much criticism from the crypto community as the reviews about Counterparty and Stacks. Many people are extremely concerned that adding NFTs to the Bitcoin blockchain will raise transaction fees. At the beginning of February, one of the independent developers reported about "the largest transaction in Bitcoin’s history". He used Ordinals to record a 3.94MB image of a bald,  bearded wizard in sunglasses. The average bitcoin block size is between 1 and 1.4 MB, and a transaction with bitcoin only costs a few cents. However, Ordinals can cost tens of dollars.

Even Bloomberg has already stated that the BTC network's fees have increased to their highest level in a year as a result of the minting of numerous NFT Ordinals. The speed of transactions also slowed down.

It's strange that some members of the crypto community have viewed the ongoing events as an attempt to split crypto enthusiasts by their racial identities.

Marginalized peoples in developing countries will have to pay more to run their Bitcoin nodes and send transactions because privileged wealthy whites want to put JPEG drawings on the blockchain as status symbols. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

reads the tweet of the Bitcoin is Saving account.

Since the launch of Ordinals, users have already moved Ether Rocks, one of Ethereum's oldest NFT projects, to Bitcoin. Some enthusiasts even replicated one of Trump's NFT collection images. The Dogecoin meme, the Nyan Cat meme, the AI bitcoin watch, and even a functional NFT version of the game DOOM can all be found on the NFT Ordinals.

Not without scandal. An unidentified user couldn't resist the urge to perpetuate Internet porn classics. For at least 30 minutes, the main page of Ordinals featured a picture with goatse (also known as goat sex), which was recorded in the blockchain. This problem has not yet been addressed by Casey Rodarmor. Given the nature of the protocol, there's no guarantee that the Ordinals won't be flooded with savory NFTs.