Bitcoin ordinals — A beginner guide

Rikkei Finance
Rikkei Finance
Published in
4 min readMar 13


Never heard of “Bitcoin ordinals”? Read on to understand this term.

What are Bitcoin ordinals?

Digital artifacts or Bitcoin ordinals, sometimes known as Bitcoin NFTs, are a mechanism to store digital content on the Bitcoin blockchain. They each have an individual inscription number and are distinct digital assets. One bitcoin ordinal can be identified from another by its Inscription number, which is a special code.

In 2021, as the NFT market based on Ethereum’s ERC-721 standard exploded, programmer and artist Rodarmor recognized an opportunity to develop a comparable but distinctive experience on the Bitcoin network. The ordinal theory-based solution he came up with and implemented through 2022 was called Bitcoin ordinals.

In January 2023, Casey Rodarmor released the Bitcoin ordinals protocol. The protocol allows the inscription of digital material, such as artwork, animations, or music, onto the Bitcoin satoshis or sats, small units of Bitcoin.

The focus of the ordinals’ theory is on satoshis. Satoshis are the smallest monetary unit in the Bitcoin system, equal to one hundred millionth of a Bitcoin. They enable creating unique identifiers that enable tracking, transferring, and meaning-imbuing. In February 2023, six weeks after the genesis ordinal was developed, the excitement surrounding ordinals truly began. The number of inscriptions was increasing significantly. The amount, however, might have been far higher if the infrastructure for inscribing and trading ordinals had been better designed and implemented.

The emergence of Bitcoin ordinals has resulted in a sharp increase in usage, fees, and storage space for the Bitcoin network, marking the first substantial advancement for the Bitcoin application tier and changing the focus from a pure “store of value” to something with more practical uses.

How do Bitcoin ordinals function?

The mechanics of how Bitcoin ordinals operate are based on the concept of ordinals. Ordinals theory explains satoshis (sats), the unit that may be recognized and used separately on the Bitcoin network. One sat is equal to 100 million Sats (BTC). A sat’s unique identification number, which is dependent on the sequence of mining, is called an ordinal number.

Sats have the ability to be encoded with the digital data that makes up Bitcoin ordinals in addition to serving as a unit of transaction. They develop into immutable digital collectibles that can be traded using Bitcoin wallets on the Bitcoin network. Ordinal numbers can be used as stable identifiers to connect sats to security tokens, accounts, or stablecoins in accordance with ordinal theory.

Traditional NFTs vs ordinals


Bitcoin ordinals are unchangeable and immutable. An ordinal that has been created and added to the Bitcoin blockchain is irrevocably recorded and cannot be changed. Yet, depending on how they are created, NFTs may or may not be immutable. While some NFTs may be fully unchangeable, others might permit alterations or adjustments to the token’s associated data.


Bitcoin ordinals exist only on-chain on the Bitcoin blockchain. As a result, they are inscripted and stored directly on the blockchain, where they are accessible to anybody with access to the blockchain and may be checked. NFTs, on the other hand, can be found on a variety of blockchains, including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, and others. More purchasing and selling options are made available by this.


Ordinals store metadata directly in the witness signature area of the Bitcoin transaction. This metadata includes elements like a description of the artwork, ownership verification, and other information. Ordinals can offer a high level of security and transparency since they include this information right into the transaction. The content that NFTs relate to is also referenced in a separate metadata file. Same data is contained in this metadata as in ordinal metadata. However, the metadata file is frequently kept off-chain, which poses risks including missing file references.


Only a few platforms are specifically designed to offer bitcoin ordinals, and the market for them is still in its infancy. Contrarily, the market for NFTs has exploded recently, and a variety of online stores and trading platforms are now accessible for NFT purchases and sales. The demand for digital assets has increased dramatically as a result of the acceptance of NFTs, with some NFTs fetching prices in the millions of dollars.

To conclude, Bitcoin ordinals are a unique kind of digital artifact that exist on the Bitcoin blockchain. NFTs and Bitcoin ordinals inscriptions are two forms of digital ownership that have several things in common, but there are apparent differences as well. It’s thrilling to think about the potential future trends and advancements for ordinal inscriptions and NFTs in digital art. We may anticipate new and inventive uses for both as technology improves. As a result, the potential impact of blockchain technology on the worlds of digital ownership and art will be further investigated.

Disclaimer: The information herein is for educational purposes only and should not be considered financial, investment, or trading advice. Please conduct your own research and due diligence before making investment decisions. You understand that you are using the Information provided at your own risk.



Rikkei Finance
Rikkei Finance

Rikkei Finance is a Web3 platform, encompassing a DeFi lending protocol and an NFT Marketplace; with a focus on NFT rentals and NFT based lending and borrowing.