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The most popular Bitcoin NFTs right now are CryptoPunks clones

The most popular Bitcoin NFTs right now are CryptoPunks clones

Bitcoin NFTs are now the talk of the Web3 world thanks to a new way to “mint” media and assets on the Tier 1 blockchain through the Ordinals project. And as with many past NFT network startups, cloned Ethereum versions of the early and influential CryptoPunks dominate the initial hype surrounding the serial numbers.

Created by Larva Labs in 2017, CryptoPunks is a seminal NFT project that set the template for the modern Profile Picture (PFP) trend. The 10,000 Ethereum assets were originally released via a free mint, long before the booming NFT market, but have since generated nearly $2.5 billion in trading volume.

Just Ordinary launched on the Bitcoin blockchain at the end of January, but the platform already has several projects inspired by CryptoPunks.

The most prominent so far is the Ordinal Punkyaka covering 100px avatars that have been "inscribed". Bitcoin through the Ordinals projects and can be traded. However, unlike some Punks clones seen in the past, these are not direct clones of the original CryptoPunks collection. Instead, they appear to be based on an Ethereum derivative collection called Mutant Punks — in other words, a derivative of a derivative.

One regular punk sold for 9.5 BTC on Wednesday night, or nearly $215,000. While it's roughly double the entry-level price of a real CryptoPunk—currently around 64 ETH, or nearly $106,000—this Ordinal Punk is based on very rare alien CryptoPunks that sold for nearly $24 million worth of ETH in the past.

In another example, an NFT collector and investor under the alias dingaling tweeted that he purchased a set of seven Ordinal Punks for 15.2 BTC on Wednesday, which was worth approximately $349,000 at the time.

However, since Ordinals have just launched, they function differently than typical NFTs on other platforms (such as Ethereum and Solana), and there is not much infrastructure to support the buying and selling of assets once they are listed. In other words, there are no Bitcoin NFT trading platforms for Ordinals yet.

Such trades currently occur over-the-counter (OTC) directly between users or through escrow services, with bid and ask prices tracked via online spreadsheets. This is fueled by Twitter and Discord as collectors vie for these punk clones as some expect these early Bitcoin "inscriptions" to become increasingly valuable over time.

“There is [a] real moment behind serial numbers, and it's still very early days. There are opportunities everywhere,” Dingaling wrote on Twitter. “Order books are currently updated in shared spreadsheets and sales are only OTC/escrow. But there is a lot of construction going on behind the scenes."

However, the lack of infrastructure means that the current trading model is susceptible to fraud, and some Crypto Twitter users have sounded the alarm. One viral thread from an NFT collector using the alias TheNorwegian mentioned various alleged problems with the collection and asked if this was the "biggest NFT scam of all time."

Another project is Bitcoin Punks, which hosts copies of all 10,000 original CryptoPunks on Bitcoin via Ordinals. Called the first 10,000-piece NFT project launched through Ordinals, all assets have already been minted for free by collectors.

However, it's not yet clear what trading demand there is for the larger collection of Bitcoin Punks at this point, and a moderator on the project's official Discord server today warned owners to "use caution when trading" before code validation can be completed.

The use of sequence numbers has skyrocketed over the past few days, as evidenced by Dune's data platform of over 17,000 mints on the platform already today—double yesterday's total, continuing a trend that has exploded over the past week-plus. More than 39,000 assets have been serialized so far, including other knockoffs and a game clone of the classic video game Doom.

However, the project has proven controversial with some bitcoin maximalists and enthusiasts, some of whom have argued that it is a waste of network space or that it contradicts bitcoin's original focus on financial assets. Bitcoin transaction fees have increased over the past week and a half since Ordinals started gaining momentum.

Clones of CryptoPunks are common in the post-Ethereum NFT protocols, and you can find them everywhere - on Solana, Polygon, Cardano, Algoranda, and even the "level 1.5" stack network built on top of Bitcoin.