MicroStrategy co-founder and Executive Chairman Michael Saylor said the company isn’t just aware of Ordinals, it’s interested in how the protocol that’s set Bitcoin’s community abuzz could lead to software innovation.
In an interview at Bitcoin 2023 in Miami, Saylor exclusively told Decrypt that the software firm is looking at Ordinals and assessing its potential in terms of application development.
Often used to create NFT-like assets on top of Bitcoin, Ordinals launched in January, and the protocol—while not embraced entirely by the Bitcoin community—has created a new wave of experimentation with crypto’s oldest coin.
One recent innovation in the space leveraging Ordinals is an experimental framework for building tokens on top of Bitcoin. It was pioneered by the pseudonymous on-chain data enthusiast Domo in early March. And since then, thousands of other so-called BRC-20 tokens have been created.
All those transactions have been partly—or entirely, depending on who you ask—responsible for elevated transaction fees on Bitcoin. That’s been a boon for Bitcoin miners, who collect transaction fees for their role in securing the network. But lots of members of the community have complained that high fees make it harder for regular people to use BTC as the peer-to-peer electronic cash system that Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, intended it to be.
The discussion surrounding Ordinals is important, Saylor said, because “Bitcoin miners have to be successful over the long term.” He added that the development of applications building on Bitcoin’s functionality could also bolster the coin’s overall adoption, among individuals, firms, and governments.
Saylor didn’t specifically say what use cases MicroStrategy could be looking into that tap Ordinals, but he noted the ability to commit data to Bitcoin’s blockchain that isn’t solely related to transactions has many potential applications.
“The whole idea of burning a piece of data on the blockchain opens the door to the possibility that I might burn a digital signature, or I might burn a registration, or I might burn a hash of a document,” Saylor said.
Touching on corporate security, Saylor mentioned DocuSign, which lets businesses and individuals send and sign agreements securely using the firm’s electronic signature product. But that makes mega corporations reliant on a proprietary database, Saylor noted.
“Right now, enterprises have weak security compared to Bitcoin,” Saylor said, adding that innovations using the world's largest cryptocurrency could possibly “introduce a new level of security” available to firms “that doesn't exist right now.”
Saylor’s comments come just a week after he described Ordinals as a “catalyst” for Bitcoin adoption on the PBD Podcast. Still, he acknowledges that Ordinals have been used for plenty of silly reasons.
"The general consensus is criticize stuff that we think is silly, but don't censor it," he said on Thursday in Miami.
Saylor didn't want to predict "which protocol will win,” but he said altering Bitcoin so that it censors certain uses would be wrong. It was a nod to the effort by a group of core Bitcoin developers, including Luke Dashjr, to treat Ordinals as "spam" and filter them out of transactions.
“If somebody wants to change the protocol, in order to censor someone else from using Bitcoin, I don't think that's consistent with the values of the community,” Saylor said. “I do believe in rules without rulers.”