Meme tokens and NFTs took over Bitcoin—now it’s happening on Dogecoin and Litecoin

Meme tokens and NFTs took over Bitcoin—now it’s happening on Dogecoin and Litecoin

Meme coins are rising in unknown places thanks to Ordinals, the project launched in January on the Bitcoin network. It started as an NFT-like effort to “enroll” assets like artwork and profile pictures on Bitcoin’s blockchain, but soon evolved to support the BRC-20 token mintage using the same protocol.

Now, thanks to the sensation surrounding Ordinal Inscriptions and meme tokens on Bitcoin – not to mention the ever-higher network fees that resulted – inscribers have brought the latest craze in blockchain to Litecoin and Dogecoin. And in the process, they have sent daily transactions to the moon.

On Wednesday, the three largest proof-of-work blockchains by market capitalization combined for more than 2 million daily transactions: 579,260 on Bitcoin, 363,885 on Litecoin and 1.126 million on Dogecoin alone, per data from BitInfoCharts. Each chain has also marked a single daily peak for transactions so far in May.

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How did we get here? Ordinals coming to Litecoin and Dogecoin was a natural progression, considering that Litecoin is a fork of Bitcoin and Dogecoin was based on code provided by Litecoin. They are all related, in a way, and that is what has led to the migration of Ordinals technology from Bitcoin to the others.

Meanwhile, BRC-20 and subsequent LTC-20 and DRC-20 standards were inspired by Ethereum’s ERC-20 tokens, allowing developers to create “fungible tokens” on the blockchains. It was a light-hearted experiment on Bitcoin… until the tokens caught on and almost reached a combined market cap of $1 billion.

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Given that, it’s no surprise to see the trend catch on elsewhere since. And Ordinals and the resulting meme token frenzy is already having a significant impact on Litecoin and Dogecoin. Here’s a look at how it happened.

Bitcoin Ordinals

In January, software engineer Casey Rodamor released the Ordinals protocol, which allows users to transfer and receive individual satoshis – that is, the smallest value of a Bitcoin (1/100,000,000 BTC). The main upgrade here is that they can include written data like videos or photos, instead of just storing transactional data.

In March, Ordinal inscriptions reached a new high after a pseudonymous creator named Domo launched the BRC-20 – short for “Bitcoin Request for Comment” – implementation. BRC-20 allowed the creation of “fungible tokens” on the Bitcoin network, opening the door for anyone to create meme tokens on the original blockchain.

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As newer tools and infrastructure have made Ordinals easier to enter and manage, the total number of inscriptions has risen, topping 8 million as of this writing. And with over 24,000 BRC-20 tokens minted to date, the total combined market cap is currently over $618 million – and previously approached $1 billion in total. Bitcoin transactions hit a one-day record of 682,000 on May 1 amid the meme token frenzy.

Critics of Ordinal inscriptions point to the increasing cost of transactions on these blockchains now that blocks are filled with JPEGs and meme tokens, with some going so far as to call it a potential attack vector and that Ordinals and meme tokens should is blocked on the network. Supporters of Ordinals, however, say the higher costs help secure the network.

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Litecoin Ordinals

After the Ordinals-driven explosion in activity on the Bitcoin network, the Inscription Protocol made its way to the Litecoin network. Launched in 2011 as a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain, Litecoin was a prominent cryptocurrency for years, although at times it has been overshadowed by newer and more vibrant coins.

Ordinals came to Litecoin in February after a challenge from the pseudonymous Twitter user Indigo Nakamoto, who originally offered 5 LTC (around $500) to anyone who could transfer the Ordinals protocol to Litecoin—and the prize pool grew rapidly. Software engineer Anthony Guerrera launched Litecoin Ordinals after discarding the Bitcoin code.

Litecoin activity hits all-time high thanks to Ordinals Mania

In May, the LTC-20 standard was introduced to Litecoin, bringing meme tokens to the network. Litecoin transactions increased after the addition of Ordinals, going from 100,684 transactions on May 1st to reaching an all-time high of 584,836 transactions on May 10th. Over 2.6 million Litecoin Ordinals have now been entered, according to the Litecoin Foundation.

Dogecoin Ordinals

In the same month, the meme token and digital objects using Ordinal Inscriptions made their way to the original meme coin network, Dogecoin, by introducing the DRC-20 standard. Users began populating the blockchain by entering tokens in the smallest denomination of a Dogecoin, sometimes referred to as “shibes” or “koinu,” after copying the Ordinals protocol to create “Doginals.”

Dogecoin saw an even bigger increase in activity than its peers, at least in terms of daily transaction volume, which jumped from roughly 88,000 on Monday to over 1.1 million on Wednesday. Not everyone is convinced that the trend is strong enough to last.

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“Something like this can’t become a real ‘feature’ because not enough thought has been put into it,” Dogecoin core developer Patrick Lodder told Decrypt this week. Furthermore, he believes the impact on the wider network will cool the hype, adding that “sustained and increasing pressure on Dogecoin will cause this to die quickly.”

Editor’s Note: This article was updated after publication to clarify the terms used to describe the smallest unit of a Dogecoin.

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