What are ordinals: A guide to Bitcoin NFTs

Blocksurvey blog author
Feb 26, 2024 · 4 mins read

Ordinal is a groundbreaking concept that marries the unique, indivisible nature of NFTs with the robust, decentralized Bitcoin network. Ordinals are taking Bitcoin by storm. Ordinal Inscriptions, similar to NFTs, are digital assets inscribed on a satoshi, the lowest denomination of a Bitcoin (BTC). This guide aims to demystify Ordinals, presenting them as an accessible innovation for enthusiasts and beginners alike, exploring their significance, and diving into the novel realm of Bitcoin NFTs.

What are Ordinals

Ordinals are digital artefacts that can be uniquely identified and inscribed directly onto individual satoshis, the smallest unit of bitcoin. This method allows for the creation of distinct, non-fungible assets on the Bitcoin blockchain.

For nearly a decade, Bitcoin developers have endeavoured to integrate Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) into the leading blockchain. This journey commenced in 2014 with the introduction of Counterparty, which laid the foundation for the Rare Pepe NFT collection, marking the blockchain's initial foray into NFTs. The endeavour continued with the advent of Stacks in 2017, further expanding Bitcoin's NFT capabilities.

The process of Inscription, central to this evolution, embeds the data of stored content into the witness component of a Bitcoin transaction. This witness component, a pivotal addition from the Segregated Witness (SegWit) update to the Bitcoin network in 2017, facilitates the inscription process by accommodating data within transactions.

At its core, Ordinals work by utilizing a technique called "inscription." This process involves embedding small pieces of data, such as images or text, into the unused space of a Bitcoin transaction. These inscriptions are permanently recorded on the blockchain, tied to specific satoshis, making each inscribed satoshi unique.

The Significance of Ordinals in the Bitcoin Ecosystem

Ordinals represent a significant innovation within the Bitcoin network, introducing the concept of unique digital assets to a platform originally designed for monetary transactions. By leveraging the security and decentralization of Bitcoin, Ordinals offer a new way to manage and trade digital assets, from digital art to unique collectables.

Impact on Bitcoin's Value and Perception: The introduction of Ordinals could potentially increase Bitcoin's value by adding new use cases and attracting a wider audience interested in the NFT market. Moreover, it challenges the perception of Bitcoin as merely a digital currency, highlighting its versatility and capacity for innovation.

Ordinals and NFTs – Bridging the Gap

NFTs are digital assets that represent ownership or proof of authenticity of a unique item or piece of content, utilizing blockchain technology to establish a verifiable, tamper-proof record.

Ordinals as NFT-like Assets on Bitcoin: By enabling the creation of unique, inscribed satoshis, Ordinals essentially bring the concept of NFTs to the Bitcoin blockchain. This allows for the minting, buying, selling, and trading of Bitcoin-based NFTs, expanding the possibilities of digital ownership and collectibility within the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Differences and Similarities between Ordinals and Traditional NFTs: While both Ordinals and traditional NFTs represent unique digital assets, the key difference lies in their underlying technology and blockchain. Ordinals benefit from Bitcoin's widespread adoption and robust security, whereas traditional NFTs often leverage the flexible smart contract capabilities of platforms like Ethereum. However, both share the core principle of digital scarcity and the ability to represent ownership of unique digital content.

The Future of Ordinals and Bitcoin NFTs

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the introduction of Ordinals into the Bitcoin ecosystem marks a pivotal moment in the history of blockchain technology. The concept of embedding unique, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) onto the most secure blockchain has sparked a new wave of innovation and excitement. This has led to the emergence of various Ordinal projects, each exploring the potential of this technology in unique ways.

The Growth of Ordinal Projects

In recent months, we have witnessed an explosion in the number of Ordinal projects. These range from digital art collections and virtual real estate to more complex applications like decentralized finance (DeFi) tools and games—all secured by the Bitcoin network's unparalleled security. The diversity of these projects showcases the versatility of Ordinals, proving that they're not just a fleeting trend but a significant development in the blockchain space.

Engaging the Community through Ordinal Surveys

To better understand the needs and interests of the community, many developers and project teams are conducting ordinal surveys. These surveys collect valuable feedback from users, guiding the development of future projects and features. This direct line of communication between developers and users is crucial for the sustained growth and relevance of Ordinal projects within the broader NFT and cryptocurrency markets.

How to Buy, Sell, and Trade Bitcoin Ordinals

Bitcoin Ordinals can be bought, sold, and traded like traditional NFTs. Several different NFT marketplaces for Ordinals allow you to trade Bitcoin Ordinals. Interested individuals must first secure a Bitcoin wallet that supports Ordinals and familiarize themselves with the process of transferring these assets. The key to successfully navigating the Ordinals marketplace is understanding the nuances of transaction fees, ensuring asset authenticity, and staying updated on market trends to make informed trading decisions.


The advent of Ordinals has undeniably opened up a new frontier for Bitcoin, allowing for the creation of unique digital assets on the world's most secure blockchain. With the emergence of a diverse range of Ordinal projects, from art collections to allowlist initiatives, it's clear that the community is eager to explore the full potential of this technology.

As we continue to witness the growth and evolution of Ordinals and Bitcoin NFTs, one thing remains certain: the journey is just beginning. For enthusiasts, creators, and investors alike, the exploration of this new digital realm promises a wealth of possibilities, grounded in the security and resilience of the Bitcoin blockchain.

What are ordinals: A guide to Bitcoin NFTs FAQ

What are ordinals in the context of Bitcoin NFTs?

Ordinals are a type of digital artifact that can be inscribed directly onto individual satoshis, the smallest unit of bitcoin, utilizing the Bitcoin blockchain's security and immutability. They represent a novel way of creating and owning unique digital assets, akin to NFTs, on Bitcoin.

How do Ordinals differ from traditional NFTs?

While traditional NFTs are primarily hosted on blockchains like Ethereum, utilizing smart contracts for their creation and management, Ordinals are inscribed directly onto the Bitcoin blockchain. This method leverages Bitcoin's robust security framework, offering a different approach to digital ownership without relying on external smart contracts.

Who is considered an expert on ordinals in the world of Bitcoin NFTs?

Experts on ordinals in Bitcoin NFTs are typically collectors, traders, or analysts with a deep understanding of the market dynamics.

Can anyone create an Ordinal inscription, and what are the steps involved?

Yes, anyone with a Bitcoin wallet and the necessary technical know-how can create an Ordinal inscription. The basic steps involve selecting a satoshi for inscription, preparing the digital content (such as an image or text), and executing a transaction that embeds this content onto the Bitcoin blockchain. However, due to the technical complexity and potential costs involved, it's recommended to thoroughly research and understand the process or seek guidance from experienced community members.

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Vimala Balamurugan

Vimala heads the Content and SEO Team at BlockSurvey. She is the curator of all the content that BlockSurvey puts out into the public domain. Blogging, music, and exploring new places around is how she spends most of her leisure time.