Ordinal Inscriptions Fuel Accelerated Blockchain Growth

The Bitcoin blockchain is inching closer to half a terabyte, with only 40.49 gigabytes left to go. Thanks to the recent trend of ordinal inscriptions, the blockchain is expected to reach this milestone even faster. On February 12, 2023, the average block size peaked at 2.52 megabytes. However, it has since dropped to an average of 1.634 MB by February 27. Despite this, the blockchain has continued to grow at a faster pace, with a rate of 0.288 GB per day compared to the previous rate of 0.173 GB per day recorded before the ordinal inscription trend began.

What are Ordinal Inscriptions?

Ordinal inscriptions refer to the practice of embedding additional data within Bitcoin’s blockchain transactions. Ordinal inscriptions are added to the end of a transaction and can include any type of data that can be represented as text, including memos, notes, and other metadata. The added data is not related to the transaction itself, and it is not included in the calculation of the transaction’s fee.

The practice of ordinal inscriptions has been around for some time, but it gained widespread attention in late 2022 and early 2023 as Bitcoin transaction fees soared to record levels. Ordinal inscriptions were seen as a way to add value to transactions while still keeping fees low. This is because ordinal inscriptions do not add to the overall size of a transaction, which is what determines the transaction fee.

However, some in the Bitcoin community have raised concerns about the potential impact of ordinal inscriptions on the size of the blockchain. Since ordinal inscriptions add additional data to the blockchain, they could potentially contribute to its growth and increase the resources required to maintain it. Despite these concerns, the trend of ordinal inscriptions continues to gain popularity, and its impact on the Bitcoin blockchain metrics remains to be seen.


Mining Bitcoin with Bitcoin generating machines

When Did This Begin

Ordinal inscriptions began on December 16, 2022, but it wasn’t until February 2, 2023, that they gained traction. On that day, a 3.96 MB block was mined, and since then, 214,028 inscriptions have been added to the Bitcoin blockchain. Over the course of approximately 26 days, this trend increased Bitcoin’s average network fee and average block size, which peaked around February 12 before subsiding. During this period, the Bitcoin blockchain grew at a faster rate, with data showing that it was 459.51 GB in size on February 27, 2023. The blockchain grew by 7.77 GB during this 26-day span, or approximately 0.288 GB per day.

This spike in blockchain growth can be seen visually by looking at a chart of Bitcoin’s blockchain size from February 2 until today. Before ordinal inscriptions started trending and larger blocks were mined more regularly, the blockchain’s growth was much slower. It took 45 days, from December 19, 2022, to February 2, 2023, to reach 7.77 GB, during which time the Bitcoin blockchain grew at a rate of 0.173 GB per day.

As of February 28, 2023, Bitcoin’s average fee is 0.000077 BTC, or $1.82, per transaction, while the median fee is 0.000033 BTC, or $0.777, per transaction. Transactions are being confirmed at rates ranging from 2 satoshis per byte, or $0.07, to 19 satoshis per byte, or $0.62, per transaction. The revenue miners accrued per day during the ordinal inscription trend peaked on February 16, 2023, at $28.21 million (block subsidy + fees), compared to today’s $21.36 million. However, bitcoin (BTC) miners are still earning more revenue than they were on December 24, 2022.

Final Thoughts

It remains to be seen how another month of ordinal inscriptions will affect metrics such as average block sizes, median and average fees, and the overall growth of the Bitcoin blockchain. While the hype around ordinal inscriptions has died down, these metrics remain elevated compared to before February 2 and the subsequent influx of inscriptions. Average and median fees are still higher than before the ordinal trend, and average block sizes remain above the 1.60 MB threshold after being below it for months.


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