Crypto and NFTs
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique digital items that are issued on a blockchain such as the Ethereum blockchain (ETH), Stacks (STX) or Solana (SOL). NFTs have unique traits and metadata, and have many use cases: they can represent artworks, grant ownership rights to a real-world asset such as a house, or provide utility in the metaverse, and more. From CryptoPunks to Bored Apes or Bored Ape Yacht Club, millions in crypto are exchanging hands for pixel art, tokenized memes, and crypto collectibles.
With Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO, announcing Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, Elon Musk actively talking up cryptocurrencies and major newspapers such as the New York Times talking about NFTs more and more, interest in the NFT market has soared over the past few years.
Popular NFT marketplaces include OpenSea and NBA Top Shot (ETH blockchain), Solanart (SOL), AirNfts on Polygon and Gamma on Stacks (STX).
The non-fungible trait of NFTs is critical to a problem we face today. Digital content is easy to duplicate, making it easy for ill-intended people to scam other users, and very difficult for digital assets to become valuable. NFTs solve that problem by creating and retaining value for digital content. Being unique, they enforce digital scarcity and provide buyers with proof of ownership for specific digital assets.
Bitcoin NFTs are created for the Bitcoin network instead of another blockchain such as Solana. And which blockchain an NFT is on, is important when it comes to its security.
The Bitcoin blockchain offers exceptional durability and stability for assets created and held on the network, with no other blockchain coming close to offering that level of security. Wouldn't you want your digital assets safely protected on the most hack-resistant network?
Despite those advantages, building Bitcoin NFTs wasn't easy. Take Rare Pepes for example, an early Bitcoin NFT. Their NFT project was innovative, but they struggled to really take root and become successful with Bitcoin.
So why build on Bitcoin? Prior to the creation of the Stacks blockchain, Ethereum provided smart contract functionality to developers when Bitcoin could not. Despite that, Bitcoin has remained the largest cryptocurrency and has proven itself as the decentralized money layer for the internet. It's the oldest blockchain and it's never been hacked.
Couple these advantages with new scalability and programmability thanks to Stacks, and Bitcoin NFTs are poised to take over the NFT market. Could the Bitcoin blockchain be the next step for NFT hunters? Definitely.
Bitcoin NFTs on the Stacks Blockchain
Bitcoin (BTC) is the most secure, reliable, and fully decentralized blockchain that exists today, as well as the biggest cryptocurrency. However, its smart contract use cases have been limited due to its scalability, speed and syntax limitations.
But the crypto market is ever evolving. Stacks Founder Muneeb Ali aimed to change this by providing a blockchain technology that uses Bitcoin's high security while allowing the creation of smart contracts. The Stacks blockchain is the first to offer a novel and scalable approach to Bitcoin NFTs as well as the largest and fastest growing Web3 project in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Stacks is a layer 1 blockchain that uses a consensus mechanism called Proof of Transfer (PoX). It relies on the Bitcoin blockchain, but it is distinct from Bitcoin and is maintained by and for Stacks nodes. It has its own rules and its transactions are separate from Bitcoin transactions. The Stacks blockchain leverages the Bitcoin network as a secure medium for storing and broadcasting, through its Proof of Transfer consensus mechanism. Stacks blocks are recorded on the Bitcoin base-layer blockchain.
With Stacks, you can build apps and smart contracts that make the most of Bitcoin's powers, from Bitcoin DeFi, to NFTs. The Stacks ecosystem has its own smart contract language called Clarity. Compared to other smart contract languages such as Ethereum's Solidity, Clarity is optimized for security and predictability. Its syntax is also easy to use and human-readable. By design, it requires smart contracts to publish their source code on the blockchain giving users the ability to verify that code, and developers more tools with which to build and innovate, as they can borrow contracts from others in the NFT space, to build their own.
The Stacks blockchain uses the SIP-009 standard to create NFTs that are secured by Bitcoin. SIP-009 outlines standard features, traits and functions, including a unique identifier and other metadata, that NFTs must have to be compatible with Stacks wallets. However, NFTs are not limited to possessing only the traits and functions mentioned in the SIP.
Buying Bitcoin NFTs
The largest NFT platform on Stacks is Gamma.io.
The Gamma platform offers three core products, offering options for minting, selling, buying and auctioning NFT tokens. Gamma helps collectors discover incredible NFT collections and helps promote curated digital art from unique creators who share their story.
A user-first marketplace to find, explore, and collect extraordinary NFTs secured by Bitcoin, the most trusted and decentralized blockchain technology for digital assets.
A creator-first launchpad for artists to deploy their own NFT collection with fully tested, creator-owned, no-code smart contracts in minutes. Creators can sell their art at a fixed price or auction it.
A social platform, bringing together creators and collectors in an engaging and Web3-native way.
Join the Stacks community and discover major NFT projects and incredible digital artists.
What if I don't have cryptocurrencies yet?
Before you can start buying Stacks NFTs, you'll need a digital wallet compatible with the Stacks blockchain as well as STX (the Stacks cryptocurrency). While some marketplaces provide the ability to pay using a credit card, most will require a digital currency wallet. If you don't have any cryptos, you'll need to go to a crypto exchange platform such as OKCoin, KuCoin, and Gate.io. You can then store your crypto in Stacks-compatible wallets such as Hiro Wallet (desktop and chrome extension) and Xverse (mobile wallet).
Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs
In February 2023, the ecosystem was taken over by important crypto news. On January 21st 2023, Bitcoin Core software engineer Casey Rodarmor launched the ordinal protocol, which has been the talk of the ecosystem since. Although there are some important differences between NFTs and Ordinals, a rough way of defining Ordinals could be to say they are Bitcoin NFTs you can mint directly on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Each Bitcoin is broken into 100,000,000 units called satoshis (or sats). Each sat is serially numbered, starting at 0. These numbers are "ordinal numbers" in the mathematical sense, giving an order to each sat in the total supply. Satoshi scarcity is cut in half every four years (halving every 210,000 blocks). Ordinals were made possible by Bitcoin's recent Taproot network upgrade. The Ordinal Theory Handbook states that, "individual satoshis can be inscribed with arbitrary content, creating unique Bitcoin-native digital artifacts that can be held in Bitcoin wallets and transferred using Bitcoin transactions. Inscriptions are as durable, immutable, secure, and decentralized as Bitcoin itself."
NFTs, including ETH NFTs and Stacks NFTs, typically refer to off-chain information that is stored on the decentralized Interplanetary File System (IPFS). IPFS allows for dynamic metadata changes, meaning that, for instance, an image associated with a token in an NFT collection can be modified and the metadata refreshed on platforms such as OpenSea and Gamma.io.
Casey Rodarmor aimed to address what he saw as a shortcoming in NFTs when he developed the Ordinal protocol. In his view, the fact that NFTs rely on off-chain metadata that can be altered makes them "incomplete," whereas Ordinals are "complete" because all the data is recorded directly on the blockchain. The goal of Ordinals is to embody the essence of true digital artifacts, which Rodarmor believes NFTs should strive to achieve.
Inscribing Bitcoin Ordinal NFTs
Despite the surge in interest in ordinal inscriptions, the process of actually creating an inscription is highly technical, complex, and time consuming. Gamma's no-code platform removes these barriers.
The Gamma no-code creator platform makes ordinals accessible to anyone with a Bitcoin address. Paired with the creator launchpad on the Stacks programming and scaling layer for Bitcoin, the Bitcoin NFT creator experience is finally ready for mainstream adoption, without sacrificing superior levels of security, trust, and decentralization that only Bitcoin can offer.
In February 2023, NFT wallets such as Xverse Wallet also quickly announced Bitcoin Ordinal supported functionality, making it easier to set up a Bitcoin address for your Ordinal. Hiro Wallet developers also confirmed support for Ordinals was on the way.