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Runes Protocol Launches on Bitcoin, Sending Fees Soaring as Users Rush to Mint Tokens


Though finding value in meme coins isn't always easy. 

Despite this being the most anticipated Bitcoin halving yet (at least according to Google search history), it was the launch of the high-profile Bitcoin builder Casey Rodamor’s latest creation – Runes – that turned heads, even among long-time blockchain developers who despise the digital tokens that can be minted on the platform.

Rodamor is known for the release of Ordinals, a protocol that allows people to “inscribe” data on the smallest units of bitcoin (i.e. satoshis) to create highly valued assets on Bitcoin. Ordinals is largely credited for inspiring a renewed developer ecosystem on Bitcoin.

Runes is similar to Ordinals, in that it allows people to “etch” and mint tokens on-chain – the main difference is that ordinals are “non-fungible” (i.e. one-of-a-kind) while Runes will function more like meme coins, which have recently taken crypto markets by storm.

The first Runes project to mint was Rodamor’s own UNCOMMON•GOODS project, which was announced well in advance of the halving, as were many of the projects looking to etch themselves on these highly coveted satoshis.

Impossible to know in advance, however, is what other projects would be able to find space on these scarce satoshis. There are already quite literally hundreds of Runes projects that are currently being minted and looking for prospective buyers.

About nine blocks after the halving, Runes minters had already paid 78.6 BTC in fees (~$4.95 million) in order to buy the rarest of the rare. This suggests that, like Ordinals, the Runes protocol could be a boon to Bitcoin’s burgeoning fee economy.

What makes a Runes project potentially viable is something of a subjective measure: being an early project to list — like DOG•GO•TO•THE•MOON, which has the honor of being “Rune Number 3” — is one measure. But buyers are also judging projects based on the “quality” of its ticker.