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Sue Ann Sim

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Market Insights

Web3 Watch

Published April 22, 2024
2 mins read

Article by Sue Ann Sim

Despite the overall drawdown in the markets, Bitcoin has halved! With the halving, could this bring attention back to the various Bitcoin verticals? Let’s explore the current state of (i) Ordinals, (ii) Runes (iii) BRC20 and (iv) BTC L2s, pre-halving.

Ordinals

In early April, we saw a resurgence in Ordinals-related volumes across marketplaces. (chart below)

Chart 1: Ordinals Volume by Marketplace (Source: Dune via @domo)

This has also been reflected in (i) growth in transactions, (ii) unique daily users and (iii) increase in the ratio of Inscriptions to ETH NFT volumes. 

One huge reason for this is possibly due to the accumulation of inscriptions that will airdrop its holders runes – over the past couple of months, holders of blue-chip ordinals such as Nodemonkes, Bitcoin Puppets, etc., were airdropped ordinals that entitle them to receive runes when the halving occurs.

Furthermore, outside of Nodemonkes, other blue-chip ordinals have been performing well, as over the past month, users have seeked to receive more ordinals airdrops that may entitle them to runes (chart below). 

Chart 2: % Change in Floor Price of Blue-Chip Ordinals: Bitcoin Puppets (Turquoise) vs Quantum Cats (Green) vs NodeMonkes (Orange) – 1M

For holders of the aforementioned blue-chip ordinals, it is important to keep questioning if these assets will retain their value due to their cultural significance, or if their value will decay post-halving, due to the rotation of attention and liquidity to runes. 

What are Runes?

Runes are a fungible token standard on Bitcoin, and differ from BRC20s as they operate on BTC’s native UTXO model, leaving a smaller footprint on the blockchain, hence are more efficient than BRC20s and reduces congestion. 

As we draw closer to the halving, runes have been a sub-sector that appears to have captured the mindshare of the community on Twitter – namely Runestones, RSICs, RuneX, amongst others. It is important to note that each rune project may differ in utility, and just like memecoins, people can etch ‘fake’ runes with the same name as runes from the [‘legitimate’ creators. That being said, we have also observed that as runes garnered increased attention in the past 1-2 months, there are more and more runes projects being launched, increasing saturation and competition within the sector.

Looking at the performance of various notable ordinals that will airdrop its holders runes, we observe positive performance in their respective price floors over the past 30 days, with the exception of RSICs:

Chart 3: % Change in Floor Price of “Rune-Giving” Ordinals: Rune Pups (Orange) vs Runestone (Green) vs Rune Guardians (Pink) vs RuneX (Yellow) vs RSIC (Turquoise) – 1M

Despite the successes of these prominent rune projects, we note that the floor price of Runestone has tumbled by ~20% on 19 April within a span of 3 hours, since their founder, @LeonidasNFT, surprisingly announced that the Runestone project executed a crowdsourced raise, triggering FUD within their community. 

Projects such as RSIC, on the other hand, have found ways to capture more mindshare, by collaborating with Stakeland, allowing users of Stakeland to earn RSIC rune airdrops, and as a result, drawing attention from the Memeland community.   

According to estimations by runesmarketcap.com), here are the top 10 rune projects, ranked by provenance, along with their respective market caps:

Table 1: Top 10 Rune Projects, ranked by provenance (Source: runesmarketcap.com)

(we believe that these figures are derived from the market cap of the relevant ordinals on marketplaces such as Magic Eden)

We postulate that just like memecoins within an ecosystem, only the top runes that have captured the mindshare and attention of the community, along with the highest provenance, will be an attractive selling point of the runes sector, while others may not perform as well. Furthermore, just like the NFT game, the floor prices of these ;rune-giving ordinals’ are likely to crash, after the runes are distributed post-halving, unless founders of these projects find a way to embed more utility to such assets. 

BRC-20

BRC-20 is also another saturated segment within the BTC ecosystem with various prominent projects that stand out as well. However, it is clear that this segment has lost some steam in terms of attention within Twitter, relative to runes, which has been the talk of the town, especially given the improvements that runes bring as compared to the BRC-20 token standard.

However, this is still a significant segment within the BTC ecosystem – as of 18 April, 17.7% of BTC transactions are BRC-20-related, while only 9.3% of BTC transactions are ordinals-related. The remaining 77.9% are non-ordinals and non-BRC20 related transactions (chart below):

Chart 4: % Split of Transactions on BTC by Type (Source: Dune via @cryptokoryo)

Here is a summary of the top BRC-20s:

BRC-20Price (7D Change)Price (30D Change)Market CapTotal Holders
WZRD+748.1+3512.13%192.2m5655
PUPS+147.19%+1835.03%412.9m5769
PIZA+125.35%+291.05%26.4m3001
CATS+402.82%+116.59%7.9m5053
CORN+213.91%+3034.07%9m2288
PEPE+111.41%+161.36%24.9m5605
W☮+99.56%N/A5.9m1963
NODE+76.59%+1874.34%4.5m3108
𝜋-11%+382.359.6m8962
OMBI+107.37%N/A1.1m1331
NODE+76.59N/A4.5m3108

Table 2: Metrics of the Top BRC-20s (Source: BTCTool)

As per the data from BTCTool, we observe very strong 7 day and 30 day  performance in terms of price action of the top BRC-20s. That being said, we would also like to caution that such performance is reminiscent of memecoins in a saturated ecosystem, where the majority of tokens may not have as much sustainable positive price action over time, as compared to the top performers. Furthermore, we would also like to highlight that despite positive growth in price action, when comparing price changes over the past 30 days versus the past 7 days, the increase in prices of these top BRC-20s are slowing down. .

We await the launch of runes, to determine if BRC-20s will rise in tandem with the top runes and are here to stay, or if runes will take over as a dominant segment in the BTC ecosystem.

BTC L2s

Over the past year, we have seen more and more BTC L2s being created as well. As the halving approaches, which BTC L2s are the ones to watch? Here is a table of the latest TVLs of BTC L2s:

Table 3: TVL of BTC L2s (Source: DefiLlama)

As per the data above, as of 19 April, Merlin Chain is the clear winner amongst the top BTC L2s, followed by B^2 Buzz. 

Even when looking at the change in TVL over the past 7 and 30 days respectively, it is evident that Merlin Chain has experienced a meteoric rise in TVL, surging past its peers within a short period of time. Based on TVL and mindshare on Twitter, it is clear that Merlin (and potentially B^2 Buzz) are the confluence of BTC L2s as of today. 

Its extremely fast rise to success can be attributed to the fact that it supports a wide variety of popular Bitcoin protocols such as BRC20, BRC420, Bitmap, Atomicals, Pipe, Stamp, etc., and also enables Bitcoin staking. Furthermore, Merlin has received funding from 24 investors including OKX Ventures, ABCDE, Foresight Ventures and Arkstream Capital.  A successful and large fundraise is typically seen by airdrop farmers as a positive indicator for a significant airdrop – this could be another important reason for the surge in its TVL.


Merlin is slated to launch its token on 19 April 2024, at 10am UTC (6pm UTC+8) on venues such as OKX, Hashkey, Bybit, Bitget, Gate, Kucoin, WOO and more.  

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