Exploring Bitcoin Inscriptions, BRC-20 and Runes Protocol

5 min readApr 22, 2024
Exploring Bitcoin Inscriptions, BRC-20 and Runes Protocol

What Are Bitcoin Inscriptions

Introduced in 2023, the Ordinals protocol revolutionized the creation of bitcoin-NFTs by enabling the attachment of information to individual satoshis. A satoshi is the smallest unit of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC). It’s named after the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto. Within the Bitcoin blockchain realm, Ordinals represent numbered satoshis adorned with inscriptions crafted through the Ordinals protocol.

Ordinals are revolutionizing NFT creation and meme coin development on the Bitcoin network. Inscriptions add metadata, but Ordinals showcase the value of this data. Inscriptions enrich transactions, adding context and significance. Satoshis serve as the base, with added data giving them purpose. Transactional notes and digital assets imbue satoshis with meaning, reflecting sender and recipient intentions despite block space constraints.

But what practical applications do these inscriptions offer? They’re useful in so many ways. They add context to transactions, like payment references, invoice numbers, or personalized messages. Moreover, they also help users transfer digital assets or documents, which are stored as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the blockchain. And they let users create BRC-20 tokens, which are the standard for fungible tokens on the Bitcoin network.

What Is BRC-20 Standard for Token Development?

The BRC-20 standard stands as a pivotal milestone in the realm of tokenization, offering a streamlined approach to the creation and exchange of interchangeable tokens within the Bitcoin ecosystem. Introduced in March 2023 by a blockchain analyst known by the pseudonym Domo, BRC-20 tokens harness the power of Bitcoin’s Ordinals protocol, capitalizing on its unparalleled convenience, immutability, and security.

In contrast to conventional token standards like ERC-20 on Ethereum, BRC-20 tokens streamline the complexities of smart contracts. Instead of relying on smart contracts, BRC-20 tokens use the simplicity of Ordinal inscriptions. These tokens are generated through the authoring of JSON files on individual satoshis, ushering in a novel era of tokenization on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Advantages of BRC-20 Token Development:

1. Simplified Functionality: Bypassing smart contract complexities, BRC-20 tokens enable easy creation and transfer.

2. Enhanced Security: Leveraging Bitcoin’s robust network, BRC-20 tokens ensure high-level security.

3. Expanding Ecosystem: With growing adoption, BRC-20 fosters innovation within Bitcoin’s extensive user base.

Disadvantages of BRC-20 Token Development:

1. Lack of Smart Contract Support: BRC-20 tokens miss smart contract features, potentially limiting functionality.

2. Dependency on Bitcoin Blockchain: Scalability issues and high fees may hinder BRC-20 token usability.

3. Compatibility Challenges: Integration hurdles with alternative platforms and wallets may arise.

4. Limited Use Cases: BRC-20 tokens suit fungible assets but might not handle non-fungible assets well.

5. Increased Transaction Fees: Rising congestion leads to higher fees for BRC-20 transactions.

What Are Bitcoin Runes?

Following the triumphant launch of the Ordinals protocol, developer Casey Rodarmor unveiled the groundbreaking Runes token protocol, aimed at streamlining the creation of fungible tokens within the Bitcoin network. It was set to activate alongside the fourth Bitcoin halving, which occurred on April 19, ushering in a reduced issuance rate of new bitcoins. Within a mere few hours of its introduction, the Runes protocol garnered immense attention, with Bitcoin miners capitalizing on the rush to create runes, effectively dominating the blockchain space. Representing a new frontier in fungible token protocols for the Bitcoin network, runes aim to address the limitations of the BRC-20 standard.

Runes have found a niche in NFT marketplaces that focus on rare satoshis and ordinal inscriptions. Okx and Magic Eden are two of the top platforms for rune listings. On Okx, a collection called RSIC•GENESIS•RUNE is leading the way, with a 24h trading volume of 24.6429 BTC or $1,627,801 on the moment of April 22, 2024.

Top 5 Runes by 24h Trading Volume on Okx Marketplace
Top 5 Runes by 24h Trading Volume on Okx Marketplace

Top 5 Runes by 24h Trading Volume on Okx Marketplace

Advantages of Token Development on the Runes Protocol:

1. Simplified Token Creation: Runes streamline fungible token issuance on Bitcoin, offering a user-friendly process.

2. On-Chain Efficiency: UTXO-based model minimizes on-chain footprint, enhancing scalability and reducing congestion.

3. Promotes Innovation: Runes’ simplicity fosters innovation in Bitcoin, enabling developers to explore new use cases.

4. Self-Contained Operation: On-chain operation eliminates off-chain data, ensuring decentralized tokenization.

5. Flexible Minting: Runes allow open minting within defined parameters, providing issuance flexibility.

6. Lower Transaction Fees: Reduced congestion leads to smoother transactions, lowering fees in the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Challenges of Token Development on the Runes Protocol:

1. Competition with Established Standards: Runes face competition from widely accepted standards like ERC-20 and BRC-20, potentially slowing adoption.

2. Risk of Token Burns: Operational errors may result in token burns, impacting user experience and value.

3. Establishment as Standard: Despite promising features, Runes must gain traction to become a dominant standard in the Bitcoin ecosystem, facing recognition challenges.

BRC-20 Vs. Runes

BRC-20 Vs. Runes
BRC-20 Vs. Runes

Development Opportunities with BRC-20 and Runes Protocol

Token Development

Using the BRC-20 protocol, businesses can develop fungible tokens like payment, utility, and security tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. With the Runes protocol, they can mint non-fungible tokens, opening avenues for new monetization revenues and users’ engagement opportunities.

Token Marketplace Development

Token marketplaces serve as decentralized hubs where users can engage in the buying, selling, and exploring tokens created with the BRC-20 and Runes protocols.

Token Launchpad Development

Leveraging the BRC-20 and Runes protocols, launchpad platforms facilitate token launches and fundraising events for new projects on the Bitcoin blockchain. These platforms offer comprehensive solutions for project teams to mint and distribute tokens to investors, conduct token sales, and manage fundraising campaigns, streamlining the process of launching tokenized projects.

Token Lending Platform Development

Decentralized lending platforms powered by the BRC-20 and Runes protocols are decentralized applications, which enable users to borrow and lend tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. These platforms facilitate peer-to-peer lending and borrowing of tokens, usingg smart contract-based mechanisms for collateralization and loan repayment, providing users with access to decentralized financial services.

The Future of BRC-20 and Runes

As the Bitcoin network gains increasing attention and adoption, it’s the perfect time to explore the potential of token creation on Bitcoin. These protocols offer a gateway to innovation within the Bitcoin ecosystem, providing developers and businesses with the tools to create groundbreaking solutions and tap into new opportunities. With the growing interest in decentralized finance, digital assets, and tokenization, BRC-20 and Runes standards stand poised to reshape the landscape of the Bitcoin network, opening doors to transformative advancements and pioneering developments.

Rock’n’Block stands as your premier choice to harness the potential of token development on BRC-20 and Runes protocols. With over 15 years of experience in custom blockchain development and a track record of delivering over 300 blockchain solutions, we possess the expertise and knowledge to guide you through the intricacies of tokenization on the Bitcoin network. From conceptualization to implementation, we offer end-to-end support to ensure the success of your token development endeavors. Partner with Rock’n’Block and unlock the full potential of tokenization on the Bitcoin blockchain!