ORC-20: The Evolution of Bitcoin Token Standards

ORC-20: The Evolution of Bitcoin Token Standards

The blockchain market is becoming increasingly dynamic, with each day bringing new technologies and developments, particularly in the area of token standards. Token standards like BRC-20 and DRC-20 have been at the forefront, garnering significant attention for their range of benefits. However, as these standards age and their limitations become more evident, the blockchain community is actively seeking solutions.

This pursuit of innovation led to the creation of ORC-20 tokens, particularly following the Taproot upgrade in November 2021. This upgrade spurred developers to experiment with the Bitcoin blockchain, leading to innovations like Ordinals, BRC-20, and now ORC-20. The ORC-20 token standard is not just another addition; it's a response to the limitations of BRC-20 tokens, aiming to enhance tokenization on the Bitcoin blockchain.

ORC-20 represents a groundbreaking advancement in Bitcoin token standards, building on the legacy of BRC-20 while addressing its shortcomings. This new standard introduces additional features and capabilities, aiming to refine the process of tokenization. As we explore the ORC-20 token standard, it becomes clear how it improves upon BRC-20, offering a detailed look at the pros and cons of these tokens.

What is ORC-20?

The ORC-20 standard represents a significant advancement in the realm of digital tokens on the Bitcoin network. Designed as an open standard by OrcDAO, it aims to enhance and expand upon the features of the earlier BRC-20 token standard, which itself was a pioneering effort enabling the minting of fungible tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain through Ordinal Theory.

ORC-20 maintains backward compatibility with BRC-20, ensuring a seamless transition for existing users and developers. This new standard focuses on improving adaptability, scalability, and security, addressing some of the key limitations identified in BRC-20. One of its notable innovations is the elimination of double-spending risks, a challenge previously encountered with certain BRC-20 tokens.

An interesting aspect of ORC-20 tokens is their use of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files, inscribed on satoshis with ordinal serial numbers, to operate on the Bitcoin blockchain. This approach allows for the support of a broader range of data formats compared to BRC-20, enhancing the flexibility and utility of these tokens.

Despite these improvements, it's important to recognize that ORC-20 is still in its experimental stage. While the tokens created under this standard hold immense potential, their long-term value and utility are not yet guaranteed. As with any emerging technology, users and investors are advised to exercise caution and conduct thorough research before adopting ORC-20 tokens.

What limitations of BRC-20 led to the development of ORC-20?

The BRC-20 token standard, while innovative and widely adopted, has encountered several inherent limitations that have necessitated the development of the ORC-20 standard. Key issues with BRC-20 include:

  • Inadequate Anti-Double-Spending Mechanisms: A critical flaw of BRC-20 tokens is their lack of robust mechanisms to prevent double-spending, which poses a significant security risk by allowing the same token to be spent multiple times.
  • Immutability Post-Deployment: Once a BRC-20 token is deployed, its maximum supply and mint limit become immutable, reducing the flexibility to adapt to changing needs or circumstances.
  • Restrictive Naming Convention: BRC-20 tokens are limited to a four-letter naming system, resulting in generic and often non-descriptive names. This limitation hinders effective token branding and differentiation, leading to potential conflicts and reduced branding opportunities.
  • Dependence on External Centralized Indexers: BRC-20's reliance on external centralized indexers for inscribed transfers and bookkeeping introduces vulnerabilities, including the risk of double-spending.
  • Static Nature and Limited Functionality: Compared to more dynamic token standards like ERC-20, which offer features such as staking or inflation issuance over time, BRC-20 tokens are relatively static. They are minted all at once, with immutable supply and maximum mint values, and have a restricted naming space. This static nature limits their utility in the secondary market and makes it more challenging to trade and create secondary markets for these inscribed satoshis.

These limitations have sparked the development of ORC-20, a new token standard aimed at addressing these shortcomings and enhancing the overall functionality and security of tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Understanding The ORC-20 Standard

The emergence of ORC-20 as a new token standard on the Bitcoin blockchain was prompted by the inherent limitations of its predecessor, BRC-20. ORC-20 has been conceptualized as an enhanced version, focusing on improved flexibility, scalability, and security, with a particular emphasis on mitigating the risk of double-spending. This advanced standard incorporates several innovative features to address the shortcomings of BRC-20.

Key advancements of ORC-20 include:

  • Robust Security Framework: By adopting the Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) model, ORC-20 ensures heightened security. In this system, each transaction explicitly outlines the transacted amount, with any remaining balance reverting to the sender. This process effectively negates the previous balance, thereby eliminating opportunities for double-spending. An in-depth analysis of the UTXO model is provided below.
  • Capability for Upgrades: Unlike BRC-20, ORC-20 tokens offer the flexibility of post-deployment upgrades. This critical feature allows for modifications in token attributes such as supply limits and maximum minting capabilities, aligning with changing demands and conditions.
  • Expanded Naming Options: ORC-20 lifts the restrictions on the length of token names and tickers, paving the way for more distinct and descriptive identifiers.
  • Enhanced Transaction Flexibility: The ORC-20 framework supports partial transactions and the ability to cancel transactions, adding a layer of flexibility previously unavailable in token transfers.
  • Seamless Migration Path: For those currently using BRC-20 tokens, ORC-20 offers a migration path. While this migration is a one-way process, it opens up the advanced functionalities of the ORC-20 standard to existing BRC-20 users.

How can ORC-20 tokens be used?

ORC-20 tokens introduce several functionalities that enhance the user experience and security in the realm of digital tokens. These features include:

  • Deployment Capability: Users have the option to create new ORC-20 tokens or transition existing BRC-20 tokens using a designated “deploy event”.
  • Minting Process: ORC-20 tokens are generated through a "mint event," enabling the creation of new tokens within the system.
  • Transaction Process: Sending ORC-20 tokens is streamlined through a “send event,” simplifying the transfer process.
  • Cancellation Feature: The ORC-20 standard allows for the cancellation of partial transactions through a “cancel event”, adding a layer of flexibility and control.
  • Upgradeability: Users can update existing ORC-20 tokens, for example, altering supply limits and minting capacities, via an “upgrade event”.

The transactional framework of ORC-20 is built on the UTXO model. This model requires senders to clearly define the transaction amount for the recipient and the remaining balance, which is returned to the sender. This method not only ensures the security of transactions but also effectively prevents the possibility of double-spending.

Advocates of ORC-20 suggest that this standard could shift the focus from creating meme tokens to issuing equity in applications and businesses. However, this concept of an unregulated securities market is met with skepticism, especially from businesses keen on understanding the ownership and trading of their equity. For serious enterprises looking to leverage Bitcoin for equity issuance, a regulated security token offering on a side-chain like the Liquid Network is often seen as a more viable option. The Liquid Network provides additional features such as wallet and holder whitelisting, ensuring compliance and security in equity distribution.

Please note that Plisio also offers you:

Create Crypto Invoices in 2 Clicks and Accept Crypto Donations

12 integrations

6 libraries for the most popular programming languages

19 cryptocurrencies and 12 blockchains

Ready to Get Started?

Create an account and start accepting payments – no contracts or KYC required. Or, contact us to design a custom package for your business.

Make first step

Always know what you pay

Integrated per-transaction pricing with no hidden fees

Start your integration

Set up Plisio swiftly in just 10 minutes.