Blockchain News

Bitcoin Ordinals Creator's New Invention: What Are 'Runes'?

Invented by the mind that created Bitcoin Ordinals, 'Runes' is a UTXO-based alternative to the BRC-20 standard, designed to align seamlessly with Bitcoin's infrastructure by minimizing the UTXO set.

Addressing BRC-20 Token Standard Challenges

Casey Rodarmor, the mind behind Bitcoin Ordinals, has recently proposed a novel Bitcoin-based fungible token protocol known as "Runes” in his recent blog. This forward-looking proposal can reportedly tackle the challenges associated with the BRC-20 token standard, with a particular focus on its impact on the Bitcoin network.

In Rodarmor's view, BRC-20 tokens create a lot of "junk" unspent transaction outputs, or UTXOs. UTXOs represent specific amounts of cryptocurrency authorized by a sender and ready to be spent by a recipient. 

On the other hand, Runes are fungible tokens, unlike Ordinals, positioned as a UTXO-based alternative to the existing BRC-20 standard. Nevertheless, he admits, other fungible token protocols on Bitcoin, like Really Good for Bitcoin, Counterparty, and Omni Layer, have their own problems.

“Fungible tokens are 99.9% scams and memes. However, they don't appear to be going away any time soon, similar to the way in which casinos don't appear to be going away any time soon,” Rodamor stated.

However, the Bitcoin Ordinals mastermind believes that creating a good fungible token protocol for Bitcoin could increase transaction fee revenue, developer mindshare, and user numbers. 

A Deeper Dive into 'Runes'

At its core, 'Runes' is designed to align with the infrastructure of Bitcoin seamlessly, and this alignment brings significant advantages. 

'Runes,' prioritize minimizing the UTXO set. In simple terms, this approach helps prevent the unnecessary creation of UTXOs, contributing to the overall efficiency of the Bitcoin network. Rodarmor emphasized the potential for 'Runes' to have a small on-chain footprint and encourage responsible UTXO management. 

Rune balances can be held in UTXOs that contain any amount of runes. Furthermore, Runes used in transactions with invalid protocol messages would be burned, allowing future upgrades to change how they are assigned or created by old clients. 

Compared to existing protocols, this approach may promote more efficient and accountable token management, thereby reducing harm. A key role of this model is to uphold Bitcoin's auditability and transparency, effectively resolving the double-spending issue.

Although Rodarmor acknowledged the challenges posed by other fungible token protocols on Bitcoin, he admitted that most fungible tokens are scams or memes. However, he firmly believes that the right fungible token protocol can bring substantial value to the Bitcoin network.

In his vision, a well-designed protocol could attract substantial transaction fee revenue, capture developer attention, and broaden the user base of Bitcoin itself. 

A $100k Incentive Amidst Uncertainty 

Despite the tremendous potential of 'Runes,' its future remains uncertain. However, Rodamor believes it may attract users from other protocols that have "worse on-chain footprints." 

Should such a thing exist? I don't know. It's about as simple as possible, does not rely on off-chain data, does not have a native token, and fits nicely into Bitcoin's native UTXO model. Such a scheme might draw users from other schemes with worse on-chain footprints, and bring developer and user mindshare to Bitcoin, encouraging them to adopt Bitcoin itself.

In a recent Twitter Spaces conversation with Trevor Owens, co-host of The Ordinals Show, Rodarmor disclosed that the idea for 'Runes' had only recently materialized, just the previous week. He also expressed some uncertainty regarding his commitment to further developing this concept.

Following their discussion, Owens proposed an enticing incentive: a $100,000 offer from the Bitcoin Frontier Fund. This fund would be accessible to any developer capable of creating a functional Rune application, advancing Rodarmor's innovative proposal.

Related News