How to Inscribe Ordinal Bitcoin NFTs: 5 Easy Steps
There’s been a lot of buzz in the NFT community around a new form of NFTs: Ordinals. Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs inscribe satoshis with data directly in a transaction on Bitcoin L1.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the NFT community around a new form of NFTs: Ordinals. An NFT (non-fungible token) is unique data on a blockchain that can be linked to digital and physical objects to provide proof of ownership. In 2016, the first Bitcoin NFT ‘Rare Pepe’ was mined, though the majority of NFT activity since took off on Ethereum due to smart contract limitations on Bitcoin. However, recently Bitcoin NFTs have evolved using various technologies, with Ordinal Theory as the latest protocol.
What Are Ordinal Bitcoin NFTs?
Ordinal Theory unlocks the ability to inscribe satoshis (individual units of Bitcoin) with unique images, music, videos, text and more directly on the Bitcoin base layer. Before, satoshis were treated only as monetary units, though now with a transaction it's possible to inscribe satoshis with data make them unique Bitcoin NFTs.
How is this possible? The Ordinals protocol uses a recent update from Bitcoin called Taproot that went live in November 2021. Taproot updated a few things in the Bitcoin protocol that affects how much data you can store within a transaction. Software engineer Casey Rodarmor found a loophole where to store nearly 4MB in a single Bitcoin block. By inscribing a serial number to each satoshi on the Bitcoin network in the order in which it is mined, the satoshi becomes a tracked and transferable NFT. Once the satoshi has been processed just as any other BTC transaction, it is then stored on the blockchain. They are therefore just as secure, decentralized and impossible to destroy as the Bitcoin blockchain itself.
The Benefits of Bitcoin Ordinal Theory
The Bitcoin blockchain is attractive to NFT creators for being the most secure, decentralized, and time-tested blockchain, and sustainable minting using recycled energy. Furthermore, Bitcoin NFTs have unique rarity factors. A new block is mined every 10min, and adjusted every two weeks. When the block is adjusted, the Bitcoin network changes the hashrate with which the blocks must align. Satoshi scarity is also cut in half every four years (halving every 210,000 blocks) and every six halvings, a conjunction occurs causing the adjustment and halving difficulties to coincide. This makes Ordinals NFTs all the more rare.
Many NFT enthusiasts are excited to see this technology possible directly on Bitcoin for the first time. The protocol brings more utility, transactions, miner incentives and overall growth in the Bitcoin economy. “Ordinals = NFTs on Bitcoin. This is good for Bitcoin,” tweeted Bitcoin educator, Dan Held.
Bitcoin Ordinal Wallets
Since the Ordinals protocol uses the Bitcoin Taproot update, you’ll need a wallet with a taproot wallet address. Without getting too technical, you’ll also need a wallet that has “coin control” capabilities in order to avoid spending your ordinal NFT satoshis on network fees.
Rather than syncing multiple wallets, Xverse wallet offers all-in-one support for ordinal functionality for iOS, Android and the Chrome Browser extension. Just like Sparrow, Xverse is a non-custodial wallet, vetted by 3rd party auditors for maximum security. Soon, Xverse will offer MultiSig and Ledger support for Ordinals as well. By using the Ordinal address in Xverse, your Ordinals are protected from being accidentally sent away as a satoshi payment. Since Xverse is non-custodial, you will always have 100% control over your NFTs.
If you've been using Sparrow Wallet, you can easily transfer your ordinals to Xverse in minutes by following this guide. Be careful not to send any Bitcoin from Sparrow wallet or you might accidentally send away your NFT.
How to Inscribe a Bitcoin Ordinal NFT
Until recently, the only way to inscribe an ordinal was with a fully synced Bitcoin node, which is costly and requires advanced technical competence. Now inscription services like Gamma and Ordinals Bot have provided easy, low-cost ways to inscribe Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs. These no-code tools gives you the option to choose or customize your transaction fee based on network congestion.
Prominent artists and projects like Megapont Ape Club are flocking to the marketplace, launching exciting NFT collections to leverage Bitcoin L1’s rarity and immutability. Here’s a quick guide on Bitcoin Ordinal inscriptions with Gamma:
Download Xverse wallet, available for iOS, Android or the Chrome Browser extension. Connect to an inscription service like Gamma.io or Ordinalsbot and select your inscription type.
You can opt to inscribe an image or text directly onto the Bitcoin blockchain. Upload your inscription by choosing the preferred file from your device. Gamma recommends to keep your files under 35kb for the best results. File sizes vary and this affects the cost, this is the same as the transaction fee you would pay for the speed of the confirmation. Remember, your inscription can be viewed by anyone and never changed or deleted. Be sure what you upload is exactly as you intend it to be.
Now you can choose your transaction fee based on the network congestion. Keep in mind that the higher the fee is, the more likely your transcription will be created sooner. However, this can still take a few hours or even several days. Select “continue” and set your transaction fee. The fees range from normal, high, or custom fees.
These amounts are estimated and the Bitcoin network fees are needed to create your inscription. Higher fees are prioritized and can help your inscription get minted sooner. Even high fees can take hours or up to several days to settle on the blockchain.
Now you will need to enter your ordinal recipient address. To receive your Bitcoin NFT, you’ll need to have a new and unused taproot Bitcoin receiving address compatible with Ordinals. In your Xverse wallet, navigate to the NFT tab and press the receive button for Ordinal NFTs. Copy the taproot recipient address and insert in the BTC wallet recipient address field in Gamma.
If you insert a BTC recipient address that is not compatible with ordinals, Gamma cannot guarantee you’ll be able to transfer your ordinal from a non-taproot address.
Finally, you’ll need to agree to the terms of service and pay the inscription fee by sending the requested BTC amount to the wallet address. You’ll need to own some BTC to pay the transaction, which you can purchase directly in your Xverse app using a fiat onramp service. Once the transaction is confirmed, you'll get a link to see your inscription on http://Ordinals.com and details of the transaction.
And that’s it! You've just inscribed a piece of Bitcoin NFT history. Depending on network demand, your inscription may take up to a few days to complete before appearing in your Xverse NFT collection. On the completion screen, you can check the status of your transaction with Gamma.
What’s Next for Bitcoin NFTs
Ordinals are an extremely interested breakthrough for Bitcoin, offering for the first time the ability to store raw data directly on the Bitcoin L1. Prominent artists and projects like Megapont Ape Club are flocking to the marketplace, launching exciting NFT collections to leverage Bitcoin L1’s rarity and immutability. Now thanks to Ordinals buzz, Bitcoin NFTs have been all the rage with many collections hitting higher volume and floor prices than ever on the Gamma marketplace. Ordinal inscriptions on Ethereum would cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, which could be the case for Bitcoin in the near future.
There are other scalable solutions for Bitcoin NFTs, which may offer more longterm afforadable options. For example, Stacks is a Bitcoin L2 that uses a unique consensus mechanism called proof of transfer (PoX) to settle on Bitcoin. Bitcoin NFTs do not exist directly on the Bitcoin blockchain like Ethereum ERC721 tokens. Rather, they are secured by Bitcoin via Stacks, offering the highest security without making any changes to the Bitcoin anchor block. To keep up with the latest developments, join the Xverse wallet Discord.
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