Bitcoin NFTs: What Makes BTC JPEGs so Extra-Ordinal?

Bitcoin NFTs are making waves in the crypto space. What are Ordinal NFTs, and how do they work?

Crypto Punk and crying pepe in the crypto countryside

Whether you call them Bitcoin NFTs, digital artifacts, or Ordinals, these new JPEGs are brewing up a storm and making waves across the crypto space. With Bitcoin Punks selling for upwards of 1.1 BTC (17.50 ETH), non-fungible tokens on the bitcoin blockchain are not to be ignored.

Since when has the Bitcoin network become the hottest place to trade NFTs? What does this mean for BTC transaction fees, and why is the Bitcoin community against all this newfound interest?

Most importantly, which Bitcoin NFT collection will be the next Bored Apes, and how can I buy these trending digital assets?

What Are BTC Ordinals?

The Ordinal protocol allows users to inscribe data, like an image or file, onto an individual satoshi. In the same way that 100 cents make up one dollar, 100,000,000 satoshis = 1 BTC. Casey Rodarmor, the founder behind the protocol, claims that these digital artifacts “reflect what NFTs should be.”


While upgradeable NFT standards and enforceable royalties have become popular on other blockchains, Bitcoin NFTs are truly immutable, permissionless, and censorship-resistant. This leads to some creative use cases, as speculated by the wider Bitcoin community:

Tweet highlight use cases for bitcoin nfts

Bitcoin NFTs are slightly different from their cousins over on Ethereum, Solana, and Avalanche. Ordinal NFTs store the entirety of the inscribed data directly on-chain instead of simply linking a JPEG to a non-fungible token.


All this was made possible following a loophole Casey Rodarmor discovered in the latest Bitcoin Taproot upgrade. Limited only by block size, data can now be stored on-chain on the world’s most decentralized blockchain. What’s more, the protocol doesn’t really on any smart contracts. While this arguably streamlines the protocol, it complicates future utilities like DeFi integrations.

Are Ordinals the First Bitcoin NFTs?

Despite what the newer generation of cryptocurrency enthusiasts might believe, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen NFTs on the bitcoin network. Crypto veterans will remember NameCoin NFTs, which, while not quite resembling today’s Apes and Punks, are widely considered the first non-fungible tokens.

In 2015, the Counterparty network hosted NFT trading card games and the now-iconic RarePepe Card Collection. While these early NFTs are technically considered Counterparty NFTs, they used bitcoin network functions to anchor references on the original blockchain, giving them their place in Bitcoin history.

Bitcoin Community and JPEGs: More Controversy

Like any revolutionary new technology, Bitcoin NFTs have divided the Bitcoin community into two camps. Bitcoin maximalists have shunned Ordinals from the outset, arguing that BTC is a financial instrument. They believe that adding Ordinal NFTs into the mix only corrupts the network and dilutes the value of the world’s first cryptocurrency.

On the other hand, Bitcoin NFTs have arguably brought renewed interest to the network and raised the ceiling on potential use cases for Bitcoin blockchain. Ordinals add an additional layer of culture and history to the bitcoin archives, while also benefitting BTC miners thanks to boosted transaction fees. Network congestion leads to limited block space and a spike in BTC gas.

Complications with Bitcoin NFTs

Before strapping on your FOMO boots and diving into the non-existent Bitcoin Metaverse, there are a few things you need to know. The Ordinal NFT ecosystem is still in its infancy and demands a high level of technical knowledge to navigate effectively.

First of all, there is no NFT marketplace on the bitcoin network. All Ordinal NFT trades are completed through trusted peer-to-peer trades in Discord servers and telegram channels. As is often the case, these trading environments attract plenty of scammers and nefarious actors.

If you’re trading Bitcoin NFTs OTC, do your due diligence and use a reliable middleman or intermediary.

As if the barrier to entry wasn’t already high enough, things just get more complex. You can’t sell, transfer or trade a native Ordinal NFT unless you’re running a full bitcoin node on your computer. Setting up a node isn’t easy, and syncing it up with the bitcoin network can take up to three days.

Fortunately, there is an easier way to create a Bitcoin NFT. Sites like and simplify the process but severely limit your BTC transactions. Unless you’re running a node, you still won’t be able to sell or transfer your NFT.

Finally, you can currently only hold one Ordinal NFT per bitcoin wallet. What’s more, if you accidentally send the satoshi that your Bitcoin NFT is inscribed on, you’ll lose it forever, even if you’re sending it to a trusted crypto exchange like Binance.

Diving into the world of Bitcoin NFTs is a bit of a jungle. The high barrier to entry has only added to the scarcity and FOMO surrounding these digital artifacts, which have been exploding on crypto news platforms. Thankfully, there are a few workarounds that make things easier.

How to Trade BTC Ordinals on Ethereum

There is a solution if you’re itching to get your hands on a Bitcoin NFT but don’t have the technical knowledge or time to go through the exhausting Ordinal onboarding process.

Emblem Vaults are a unique approach to NFT trading that allows users to package data from other chains like Bitcoin and Dogecoin into an Ethereum NFT. Each Emblem Vault contains private keys for data, like NFTs, that are stored on other blockchains. Emblem Vaults make it possible to trade NFTs from other networks like Bitcoin and Solana as if they were Ethereum NFTs.

Ironic explanation of creating ETH art on bitcoin, then selling it back to traders for ETH

One could argue that this represents peak irony in the crypto space. Even after all these years and all the progress the industry has witnessed, we’re still generating Ethereum-native punk art on other chains. This isn’t a new idea, but this is the first time we’ve started repackaging these outsider punks to resell them on Ethereum.

As always, buying Emblem Vaults on Opensea carries an element of risk. Because anything can be coded into an Emblem Vault, it’s difficult to know if the vault you’re looking at contains a genuine Bitcoin Punk. Seeing the same Ordinal NFT listed three times in a row undoubtedly raises some red flags.

Three scam Bitcoin Punks for sale

It’s recommended to always conduct thorough research before buying any Emblem Vaults claiming to contain Bitcoin NFTs. Otherwise, you find yourself chalking up more capital losses on your crypto taxes.

On the Flipside

  • Ordinal NFTs are the latest gold rush in the crypto market; however, the high barrier to entry makes it difficult to navigate and gives scammers and bad actors a platform to take advantage of unaware users.

Why You Should Care

Bitcoin NFTs are increasing network congestion on the Bitcoin network. While this is great for Bitcoin miners, regular users suffer from higher transaction fees and network congestion.


Where can I buy Bitcoin NFTs?

As of February 2023, there is no official NFT marketplace for native Bitcoin NFTs. The sales of Ordinal NFTs on the Bitcoin network are handled through peer-to-peer transactions between trusted traders.

Are there NFTs on Bitcoin network?

There are NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain; however, the network’s lack of smart contracts makes it difficult to trade them as easily as one would on a chain like Ethereum. The first ever non-fungible tokens were called Namecoin and were considered Bitcoin NFTs.

Why are NFTs bought with Ethereum and not Bitcoin?

Most NFT trading happens on Ethereum, which is commonly considered the home of NFT culture. Because ETH is the native currency of the network, most NFT trades are settled in ETH rather than BTC.

What are the benefits of Bitcoin NFTs?

Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin are immutable, permissionless, and censorship-resistant. After they have been created and inscribed onto a satoshi (1/100,000,000th of a BTC), they cannot be changed or adapted in any way.

Are NFTs only on Ethereum?

No, almost every blockchain network has its own NFTs. Other popular networks with growing NFT communities and market volume include Solana, Cardano, and Polygon.

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Finn Miller

Finn Miller is a New Zealand-based blockchain writer for DailyCoin who specializes in simplifying complex blockchain topics. He is experienced in crafting whitepapers, researching on-chain data, and advising emerging crypto projects, and uses his unconventional approach to learning and passion for knowledge to provide cornerstone educational content for readers of all levels. When not exploring the depths of DeFi, Finn can be found exploring his other passion, the great outdoors.