The Bitcoin blockchain is witnessing a new wave of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), but this time in the form of “Bitcoin Stamps” instead of the previously popular “Ordinals.” The newly emerging Secure Tradeable Art Maintained Securely (STAMPS) protocol uses a different approach for embedding image data into the blockchain. Unlike Ordinals that store image data within prunable transaction witness data, Bitcoin Stamps store it directly within spendable transaction outputs. This approach preserves the data immutably forever, making it impossible to prune from a full node.
The creator of the STAMPS protocol, Mike In Space, claims that it is the “most permanent” means of inscribing data on the Bitcoin blockchain. He further explains that the protocol ensures the preservation of art forever by storing it securely on the strongest ledger ever devised by man backed by Proof of Work. The STAMPS creator has already begun discussions with Emblem and Hiro Wallet for protocol integrations, and users will soon be able to buy and sell Stamps on OpenSea.
In early February, proponents of Ordinals argued that they were superior to NFTs on other platforms because they stored image data within the Bitcoin blockchain. However, even Ordinals data can be pruned by individual node runners, thereby limiting the immutability and decentralization benefits of such NFTs. This is where Bitcoin Stamps differentiate themselves by forcing nodes to store their image data across many different unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs).
The Stamps protocol utilizes Counterparty, an old protocol that brought Bitcoin images to the forefront in 2014 before the term “NFT” even existed. The NFT is then broadcast across the network, ensuring that the image data is stored across all Bitcoin nodes. However, this approach comes at a cost – the creator suggests using Stamps for lightweight “24×24 pixel, 8-color-depth PNG or GIF” files to make up for their implicit storage costs.
The Stamps protocol also offers the benefit of being “semi-fungible,” meaning that they can be issued as “1 of 1” or “1 of many” digital assets. This feature is similar to the Ethereum ERC-1155 multi-token standard and is one of the reasons for their fast growth. The Stamps website reveals that over 8,300 Stamps have been minted since their launch on March 7, compared to under 500 Ordinals within the same time period after their launch.
However, while Bitcoin Stamps are gaining popularity, the number of Ordinals on Bitcoin continues to grow, with over 910,000 inscriptions to date, according to Dune Analytics. Major brands, including Bored Ape Yacht Club and Bugatti, have already adopted Ordinals technology. Regardless, the emergence of Bitcoin Stamps has brought a new level of innovation to the NFT space, with the protocol’s unique approach to storing image data and ensuring its immutability forever.