How to Mint a Bitcoin NFT
Dear Bankless Nation,
One of the longer-standing Bitcoiner mantras has been the grounding of BTC to money as an exclusive use-case. Some of that appears to be changing now…
With the rise of Bitcoin NFTs thanks to the Ordinals protocol, we’re here to show you how you can mint your very own non-fungible token on the Bitcoin network.
- Bankless team
The rise of Bitcoin NFTs has been one of the biggest recent stories in the NFT ecosystem. However, this early scene can be quite confusing. This Bankless tactic will show you how to mint your own Bitcoin NFT in a simple, straightforward fashion.
- Goal: Learn to mint Bitcoin NFTs
- Skill: Beginner/Intermediate
- Effort: Less than one hour
- ROI: DIY mints on the OG blockchain
A beginner’s guide to minting Bitcoin NFTs
Of course, this scene first started coming to life in 2014 when Counterparty, a network built on Bitcoin for custom tokens, was introduced.
Yet Counterparty ultimately failed to gain major traction and was eventually overshadowed by the rise of Ethereum smart contracts, which have catalyzed multiple NFT booms ever since.
For almost a decade then, the notion of a teeming “Bitcoin NFT ecosystem” hasn’t been considered viable, or, well, even been considered period by the vast majority of people in the cryptoeconomy. That’s all changed now with the arrival of Ordinals, a new protocol that can inscribe metadata over individual satoshis, the smallest BTC denomination.
So, why this meteoric rise now? What’s different between 2014 and today?
First, the contemporary cryptoeconomy now has a thriving and well-developed NFT ecosystem filled with explorers who are comfortable navigating multiple varied chains. We are ready this time, as it were.
Second, though, Ordinals-style NFTs are an innovation breakthrough in how they provide a new way to mint totally onchain NFTs directly to Bitcoin. Here, “totally onchain” means the metadata, e.g. an NFT’s art, will be indefinitely retrievable from the Bitcoin blockchain rather than from a private storage server or storage networks like Arweave, Filecoin, IPFS, and so on.
In their pros column, the new Bitcoin NFTs offer robust permanence guarantees — at least as things stand — and cheap onchain storage, which is typically extremely expensive.
As for the cons, these inscriptions lack the composability and expressive possibilities that smart contracts offer, and there’s a chance that Bitcoin nodes could prune them out eventually.
What’s clear for now, though, is that this new Bitcoin scene is here to stay and will undoubtedly catalyze a surge of new Ordinals-friendly wallets and minting services. We’ve seen the start of such a surge in recent weeks as multiple projects have stepped forward to offer streamlined Bitcoin NFT tools, since initially it required running your own Bitcoin node to interact with these NFTs.
Getting started with Bitcoin NFTs
So let’s say you’re interested. You want to try your hand at creating a Bitcoin NFT, but you’d prefer a simple NFT minting flow rather than having to spin up your own node. You’ve got options here, but to get started you’ll need two things:
- Some BTC
- An Ordinals-compatible wallet
Just like minting an NFT on Ethereum requires ETH for gas, you pay with BTC to complete Bitcoin NFT minting transactions. At the time of this post’s writing, a normal minting fee on gamma.io was around ~50,000 sats, i.e. ~₿0.0005 or $13 USD. Yet depending on demand this fee can fluctuate considerably. As such picking up $25 worth of BTC, which is roughly ₿0.001, should cover your first mint right now, but going for $50 worth might be your best bet to start considering fluctuations.
And when it comes to setting up a wallet, don’t slouch here. If you try to jam ahead with a regular Bitcoin wallet you could accidentally spend the satoshis that make up your NFTs! Accordingly, one of the simplest wallets you can use right now is Xverse, a Stacks and Bitcoin wallet currently available as a Chrome extension or a mobile app for Android or iOS users.
Once you’ve downloaded the extension or app, whichever you prefer, you’ll be prompted to create a new wallet. You’ll be asked if you want to back up your wallet now or later, and then prompted to set up a password for your new account. Once that’s done, you can use your Xverse BTC address to receive your minting funds and to pay for Bitcoin NFT mints.
At this point, after you’ve received BTC to your Xverse wallet, you’re ready to start minting. For this, the aforementioned gamma.io site is one of the most straightforward Ordinals-style minting resources available today, so I recommend it for Bitcoin NFT beginners.
To proceed with Gamma, simply head to the project’s website once your BTC hits your Xverse wallet. Then click on the “Ordinals” button at the top of the page and select “Create Inscription.” Doing so will bring you to an upload dashboard that looks like so:
Here, start by uploading your desired file type. Then choose your desired fee level (Normal, Higher, or Custom) and input your Ordinal recipient address to mint your NFT to. Note: this isn’t the BTC address in your Xverse app; you’ll need to click over to the collectibles tab and press “Receive” and then copy over your explicit Ordinals NFT address to proceed.
Now? It’s a waiting game. Your inscription can take hours, or even days, to complete depending on your transaction fee and demand to use the network at the time. Gamma will provide a waiting page where you can check the status of your mint and zoom in on transaction details.
Once your mint transaction is completed, you’ll be able to review it on Gamma or in your Xverse wallet (select the “Open gallery” option in the Collectibles tab). As for selling your NFT, you can try requesting a collection listing on Gamma or try your chances on some of the other available Ordinals marketplaces today:
All in all, minting NFTs on Bitcoin is not for the faint of heart right now, but services like Xverse and Gamma make it considerably easier compared to the more advanced avenues some people are using right now, like spinning up their own Bitcoin nodes.
Zooming out, it’ll be interesting to see how much traction Bitcoin NFTs get from here. For NFT purists, the permanence and onchain possibilities of satoshi inscriptions is compelling, but it remains to be seen how the ecosystem will shape up going forward. Chances are that Bitcoin will come to be a leading onchain storage option, but we’ll have to wait and see the happenings that route brings!
- Mint your first Bitcoin NFT: try using the Xverse x Gamma combo to create your first Bitcoin mints 🔥
- Read my previous tactic if you missed it: A Beginner’s Guide to Canto 🍵