Meme token fever is sweeping through Bitcoin, as the market cap of tokens built on top of the leading cryptocurrency’s blockchain approached $1 billion on Monday after ORDI—the very first such token—was listed on major exchanges.
According to brc-20.io, which tracks the nascent market for tokens minted on the Bitcoin blockchain, the market cap of all BRC-20 tokens combined totals around $991 million, as of this writing. The market has surged in value, as well as number of tokens in circulation, over the last few days.
Short for "Bitcoin Request for Comment," BRC-20 is an experimental framework for building fungible tokens on Bitcoin using Ordinals, the protocol that enables people to mint NFT-like assets on Bitcoin called inscriptions.
BRC-20 tokens have existed for two months. They were pioneered by the pseudonymous on-chain data enthusiast Domo, who took inspiration from the ERC-20 token standard on Ethereum and launched a token called ORDI on March 8.
Since then, Ordi has reached a market cap of around $400 million, according to brc-20.io. Other BRC-20 tokens like PEPE (a different token than the currently-hot Ethereum meme token of the same name), MEME, PIZA, and DOMO have followed suit as Bitcoin goes through the kind of meme coin mania that has gripped the wider crypto market in the past with Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and BONK.
On Monday, Ordi was listed for trading on Crypto.com and Gate.io, suggesting the experimental token is gaining mainstream adoption on cryptocurrency exchanges. As of this writing, the price of Ordi was $18.50 on Gate.io, a notable drop from its peak of $29.58 set earlier in the day.
Still, the current price of Ordi represents a steep increase from its price just one week ago, when Ordi traded hands at $3.78 on May 1, according to brc-20.io.
The volatility of BRC-20 tokens highlights the emergent nature of the Ordinals space, as text-based inscriptions—used to create and trade the tokens—take over and image-based inscriptions become less common. Yesterday, over 399,000 inscriptions were text-based compared to 20 that were image-based, according to data from Dune.
A record number of daily inscriptions was recorded yesterday as well at over 400,000, pushing the total number of inscriptions made past 4.5 million since the Ordinals protocol took off in late January.
The popularity of BRC-20 tokens is having a noticeable impact on Bitcoin transactions, overall. On Sunday, 65% of Bitcoin transactions were related to BRC-20 tokens, according to another Dune dashboard, and leading crypto exchange Binance briefly halted Bitcoin withdrawals due to network congestion.