Bitcoin’s average block size has hit all-time highs above 2.5 megabytes (MB) for the first time since its inception in 2009, driven by the launch of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) protocol Ordinals in January 2023.
Block size data from Blockchain.com reflects a jump in Bitcoin block size from the beginning of February 2023, increasing over 2 MB in the weeks following the launch of the Ordinals Protocol.
As Cointelegraph reported, participants from the Bitcoin mining ecosystem have already made over $600,000 processing transactions of Ordinals, which have been dubbed as Bitcoin-based NFTs.
Software engineer Casey Rodarmor launched the Ordinals protocol in January, allowing the creation of Bitcoin “digital artifacts” on the network. These can comprise JPEG images, PDFS and video and audio files.
As Rodarmor outlines in the Ordinals documentation, these digital artifacts can be inscribed to an individual satoshi that makes up a whole Bitcoin. Each BTC is made up of 100,000,000 satoshis.
“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.”
The Bitcoin community has been divided over the ability to inscribe digital artifacts to the blockchain, with arguments for and against providing plenty of food for thought. One of the major talking points has been the increased use of block space to inscribe various Ordinals.
Bitcoin’s average block size has hovered between 0.7 MB and 1.5 MB from July 2021 to February 2023. From Feb. 5 onward, Bitcoin’s average block size surpassed 2 MB for the first time, currently sitting at around 2.2 MB at the time of writing.
The inception of Bitcoin Ordinals has also seen the network hit a record 44 million non-zero addresses, as per data from Glassnode. Glassnode’s latest newsletter notes that Ordinals compete for block space demand but have not yet significantly impacted network fees.
Glassnode describes the advent of Ordinals as a “new and unique moment in Bitcoin history,” whereby innovation generates network activity without the “classical transfer of coin volume for monetary purposes.“