What is ORDI? Understanding Bitcoin's first BRC-20 token

ORDI is a new kind of token built on the Bitcoin blockchain. It uses a technology called ordinals to store data directly on Bitcoin's smallest units, called satoshis. This opens up new possibilities for creating and managing digital assets on Bitcoin.


  • ORDI is the first BRC-20 token built on the Bitcoin blockchain. It uses the ordinals protocol to embed data directly onto satoshis.

  • The token extends Bitcoin's capabilities by enabling the creation and trading of NFTs and other digital assets directly on the blockchain.

  • ORDI has sparked debate around Bitcoin's scalability and the evolution of its core transactional functionality.

  • The token gained wider attention and saw its value rise after listing on major crypto exchanges.

  • Bitcoin can now be used in a new way that challenges traditional ideas of how the digital asset works. ORDI doesn't require the use of external smart contracts.

What is ORDI?

ORDI, the first BRC-20 token to use Bitcoin's ordinals protocol, quickly gained attention and a significant market cap after launching in March 2023, reflecting its uniqueness as a memecoin integrated directly into Bitcoin's blockchain. This integration was made possible by the ordinals protocol, developed by Casey Rodarmor, which allows for the inscription of data like text, images, audio, and video directly onto Bitcoin's smallest unit, the satoshi. This adds abilities beyond what Bitcoin was originally designed to do. Now, you can make and trade things like NFTs and other digital assets directly on the blockchain.

The BRC-20 standard, inspired by Ethereum's ERC-20, adapts the concept to fit the Bitcoin network. Unlike ERC-20 tokens that are based on smart contracts, BRC-20 tokens like ORDI inscribe data within a satoshi. The development demonstrates a new use case for Bitcoin's existing infrastructure without the need for external smart contract platforms.

ORDI's value and popularity rose after launch because of the uniqueness of the project and the possibilities it brought to the Bitcoin network beyond using the asset for transactions. The price of ORDI spiked following its listing on major cryptocurrency exchanges, which gave a wider group of traders and spectators the chance to buy and sell ORDI.

ORDI is seen as a promising advancement, but one that also underlines the an important discussion in the crypto community — how to push boundaries on the Bitcoin network while staying true to its fundamental values. This debate explains why ORDI has sparked some controversy, particularly concerning Bitcoin's scalability and the purity of its original transactional design. This discourse highlights the challenges and potential of integrating new technologies like the ordinals protocol and BRC-20 tokens into established blockchain systems.

What are the technical aspects of the BRC-20 token standard?

Many see the BRC-20 token standard as Bitcoin's answer to Ethereum's ERC-20 standard. However, BRC-20 has been purposely designed to work with the Bitcoin blockchain. Let's look at the important parts of this new standard.

Basic framework

BRC-20 tokens use the ordinals protocol. This protocol writes data directly onto Bitcoin's satoshis. It lets you create and manage tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain without smart contracts. This functionality is complemented by Bitcoin's recent Taproot upgrade, which helps the network handle more complex data.

Comparison with ERC-20

Although ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum are popular for their frequent usage in decentralized applications (DApps) and smart contracts, BRC-20 tokens function within Bitcoin's limited scripting capabilities. This results in a reduced level of programmability compared to ERC-20 tokens. However, BRC-20 tokens do offer the advantage of Bitcoin's robust security measures and widespread acceptance.

Simplicity and accessibility

BRC-20 tokens are relatively simple to create and manage, which helps to make token issuance accessible to those without deep technical knowledge. The technology streamlines the process of issuing tokens by using JSON-based inscription data for defining token attributes like total supply and transaction rules.

Security and integration

BRC-20 tokens are built on the safe and decentralized Bitcoin blockchain. They're also purposely designed to work effectively and efficiently with the existing Bitcoin ecosystem, making it easier for people to use them.

Smart contract functionality

The major drawback of BRC-20 compared to ERC-20 is the need for more sophisticated smart contract capabilities. This limits the potential for developing complex DApps directly using BRC-20 tokens.

Network constraints

Because they're based on Bitcoin, BRC-20 tokens are subject to the scalability and transaction speed limitations of the Bitcoin network. This could lead to potential congestion as their usage increases.

Creating the BRC-20 token standard is an important moment in Bitcoin's history. Now, Bitcoin can be used for more than just crypto transactions and trading. However, certain challenges exist because of Bitcoin's design. As the BRC-20 space grows and evolves, we could see more ways to use tokens and more people accepting them on Bitcoin's platform.

What are the challenges facing ORDI?

One big challenge facing ORDI is that Bitcoin's network may not be able to handle all the new data created. Large amounts of information are added when people use the ordinals protocol to put ORDI and other similar tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. This increases the time it takes to process transactions, and can also cause fees to rise. High-profile Bitcoin developers like Luke Dashjr have criticized this impact on the network, labeling it "spam" that could undermine the efficiency of the network.

ORDI also faces criticism because people buy and sell it based on speculation about its future price, rather than its real value or utility. This can cause the price to fluctuate significantly, which is risky for traders and makes people wonder if ORDI can really be a stable asset in the cryptocurrency market.

Technically, the BRC-20 standard lets you create tokens on Bitcoin's blockchain. However, it doesn't have the advanced smart contract features that platforms like Ethereum have. This means that while ORDI can do basic token-related things, it can't handle complex DApps.

Despite its challenges, ORDI has played a significant role in advancing tokenization in the Bitcoin space. It's a big step in exploring how Bitcoin can go beyond being just a digital currency. As the cryptocurrency community continues to innovate, lessons from ORDI's implementation could shape future developments and improvements in blockchain technology.

What's next for ORDI and BRC-20 tokens?

Although the future of ORDI and the broader BRC-20 token standard looks promising, it's impossible to predict the future. That's why it's important to do your own research before getting involved with ordinals.

Market growth and integration

The BRC-20 standard is popular in the cryptocurrency market. As of late 2023, BRC-20 tokens were worth more than $1.4 billion. New uses for BRC-20 tokens include digital collectibles and games. These features help to attract investors and grow the Bitcoin token ecosystem.

Technological advancements

The BRC-20 token standard works better with Bitcoin's Taproot upgrade. This upgrade saves space on the blockchain and could allow for more complex token features to be added in the future. This could mean that different types of apps with unique and inventive functionality can be built on Bitcoin's blockchain.

Cross-chain potential

Efforts are being made to connect BRC-20 tokens with other blockchains, like Ethereum. This could make BRC-20 tokens more valuable, and extend their use to wider DApps and markets. This could create a more connected and flexible blockchain system, similar to that seen when Ethereum first launched.

Community and developer engagement

There's much potential for BRC-20 tokens to continue evolving and creating new possibilities, driven by the involvement of developers, the arrival of new development tools, and the commitment of the wider community. As more developers look into how Bitcoin can be used to make tokens, we can expect new projects and ideas to emerge, creating momentum for further innovation.

The final word

The new ORDI and BRC-20 tokens are a big step forward for Bitcoin as they allow people to do more than just send money. Now, they can also create assets like NFTs right on the Bitcoin blockchain, extending the use cases for crypto's first and largest asset. The possibilities brought by ORDI has attracted a lot of excitement, but at the same time, concerns have been raised that ORDI could diminish Bitcoin's original purpose of being a simple way to send money.

As ORDI and BRC-20 tokens grow in popularity, their functionality could be expanded to work with other blockchains like Ethereum. It's hard to say what'll happen in the future, but before participating in ORDI, be sure to do your own research and make sure it fits within your objectives and strategy.

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