What are BRC20 Tokens?

Ordinal Labs
3 min readJun 26, 2023
BRC20 Tokens

BRC20 tokens have been buzzing around in the Bitcoin community recently, but what exactly are they? In this article, we will explore what BRC20 tokens are, their underlying technology, and the implications they hold for the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Bitcoin and Smart Contracts

Bitcoin, since its inception in 2009, has revolutionized the way we perceive and handle money. It offers a decentralized, trustless system where transactions are transparent, immutable, and secure. However, Bitcoin’s primary function has been a digital store of value, a “digital gold” if you will.

For the longest time, Bitcoin’s functionality has been limited when compared to Ethereum, which introduced smart contracts to the blockchain scene. Smart contracts have enabled a flourishing ecosystem of Decentralized Applications (DApps), most notably in Decentralized Finance (DeFi).

But what if Bitcoin could harness this power too?

Enter BRC20 Tokens

This is where BRC20 tokens come into play. Similar to Ethereum’s ERC20 tokens, BRC20 is a standard for creating tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. These tokens can represent anything from a digital currency, a share in a company, proof of ownership, and much more.

BRC20 tokens leverage the scripting functionality in Bitcoin transactions, a feature that is often underutilized but immensely powerful. It enables users to “lock” bitcoins into a contract that requires specific conditions to be met before they can be spent. This means the BRC20 tokens, which are inscribed in Bitcoin transactions, are secured by the robust Bitcoin network itself.

How Do BRC20 Tokens Work?

In essence, BRC20 tokens allow for the creation of a variety of “off-chain” balance states with inscriptions on the Bitcoin network. To create a BRC20 token, you start with a “deploy” function that initiates the token. Next, you can “mint” a certain amount of these tokens with a “mint” function. To transfer these tokens, a “transfer” function is used. The balance state of these tokens is found by aggregating all these functions’ activity together.

Implications of BRC20 Tokens

The implications of this are quite profound. With BRC20 tokens, Bitcoin could potentially harness the thriving DeFi ecosystem currently dominated by Ethereum. It opens up a realm of possibilities, from decentralized exchanges and lending platforms to tokenized real-world assets and more, all on Bitcoin’s blockchain.

Imagine earning interest on your Bitcoin, trading on decentralized exchanges, engaging in P2P lending, all within the security parameters of Bitcoin’s network. BRC20 could make it all possible!

Proceed with Caution

While BRC20 holds an exciting promise, it’s worth noting that this is still experimental technology which comes with potential risks. It’s essential to research and understand the technology thoroughly before engaging with it.

Final Thoughts

The advent of BRC20 tokens represents an exciting development in the Bitcoin ecosystem, potentially paving the way for Bitcoin to tap into the flourishing DeFi market. As with all innovations in the cryptocurrency space, it’s a dynamic and rapidly changing landscape. But one thing is for certain — BRC20 tokens could redefine what’s possible on Bitcoin, and that in itself is a fascinating prospect to watch.

Created with Chat 4 AI-assistance (For formatting and structure)

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Ordinal Labs

Attempting to simplify the latest innovations within the Bitcoin and Ordinal space.