HomeCryptoBitcoinRunes: the revolutionary protocol on Bitcoin will be launched at block 840,000...

Runes: the revolutionary protocol on Bitcoin will be launched at block 840,000 of the halving

On Saturday, April 20th, in conjunction with the Bitcoin halving at block height 840,000, the Runes protocol will be officially launched, aiming to bring fungible tokens within the world’s largest blockchain.

The founder of the project, known as “Leonidas”, had already created a similar solution last year thanks to the introduction of the BRC-20 standard, however Runes is much more efficient and scalable.

To celebrate the event, a sort of treasure hunt has been organized to find the so-called “Epic Sat” worth probably over a million dollars.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of criticism towards a protocol that could give rise to a real casino for shitcoins on the Bitcoin blockchain.

All the details below. 

The Runes protocol launches in parallel with the Bitcoin halving at block height 840,000

All eyes are on block 840,000 of the Bitcoin blockchain, which will kick off the long-awaited reward halving event.

However, not everyone knows that in conjunction with the halving, the cryptographic protocol Runes will be introduced on the mainnet, sponsored by user X “Leonidas“, with the aim of introducing fungible tokens within the Bitcoin network.

This innovation originally takes inspiration from the concept of “inscription of individual satoshis” that brought NFTs on Bitcoin, and then was replaced by the BRC-20 standard that supported the creation of commercial tokens on the same network.

Runes tokens represents an evolution of these first two experiments, where the minting of non-fungible tokens appears as a much smoother, safer, and less expensive practice in terms of fees.

As Casey Rodarmor, inventor of the so-called “inscriptions”, pointed out in a recent interview with Coindesk:

“To transfer a BRC-20 token, three transactions are required due to the way subscriptions work. Two transcriptions are needed to create the subscriptions and one to transfer the resulting subscription to the recipient. […] Runes, on the other hand, is a standalone protocol without dependencies on Ordinals”

From a technical point of view, advanced operations with Runes, once it will be open to the public on the day of Bitcoin’s halving, will be much less cumbersome in terms of weight, and will leverage one of the main elements of the network architecture, the UTXO.

This last term, known acronym of “unspent transaction output“, concerns the amount of BTC (or sat) that in a transfer transaction is sent back to the sender as change. 

The new protocol takes the UTXO concept and extends it to the ability to maintain a balance in any number of Rune tokens.  Users send a call to “Runes” on various inputs, which are transferred and burned through the “OP_RETURN” function: unspent balances (change) are then identified as fungible tokens.

This type of approach, in addition to differentiating itself from BRC-20 as it does not unnecessarily occupy space on the chain, also differs from RGB and Taproot which require off-chain storage space.

So Runes seems to have been designed in a flexible way, to not create structural damage or cause long files in the Bitcoin mempool, while aiming to create value and increase the utility of the network.

Parallel to the Bitcoin halving, other protocols based on the Runes logic will also be launched, such as Ordinox, which acts as a platform for cross-chain swaps between ERC-20 tokens and inscriptions.

The race to find the Epic Sat at the halving

As the Runes protocol enters the heart of the Bitcoin blockchain, Leonidas and his team have decided to commemorate the Bitcoin halving with a very fun event.

This is a kind of treasure hunt for the so-called “Epic Sat” which represents the first satoshi after the halving (indivisible unit of BTC) of an unspent transaction output.

As Tyler Whittle, founder of the Ordinals Taproot Wizards project, describes it, the UTXO will be selected in this way during the extraction of the chosen block:

“Essentially they would split the 3.125 BTC in two: one of which is incredibly small and contains the first, the rest is just bitcoin and has nothing special”

This “Epic Sat”, which theoretically should have a value of 0.00062 dollars (or generally 0.00000001 BTC) could actually have a valuation of over 1 million dollars, given the hype surrounding the launch of the Runes protocol.

This prediction has been supported by several members of the Bitcoin community, such as Tristan, founder of the project tracker Ordiscan.com, who wrote in a blog post:

“the first (sat) sitting alone in the block could be worth at least $1 million”

While individual miners seek their fortune by trying to mine block 840,000 on their own, which is marked as the one that will start Bitcoin’s halving, several mining pools have thought about what to do with the Epic Sat if they were to mine it.

On this note, the mining pool of Foundry USA has informed its clients that if it mines the block containing the precious sat, it will sell it and distribute the proceeds to all users in the group who have provided their computing power.

The chances that it is actually Foundry mining the epic sat are very high, since it represents the largest pool for hash rate provided to the Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin maximalists oppose Runes: risk of launching a meme coin casino

The idea of the Runes project to introduce fungible tokens within the Bitcoin blockchain after the halving has not been well received by the maximalist community.

These individuals, who worship the Bitcoin network as it was conceived by Satoshi Nakamoto and do not accept a parallel use case (while respecting the rules of the chain), essentially believe that the Runes will end up creating a casino of shitcoins in the open sky.

In reality, it is Casey Rodarmor himself who described the protocol in a post on X on April 1st as if it had been “built for degens and memecoin.”

The underlying idea is in fact to bring the trend of memecoins to Bitcoin, where it was originally never possible to create digital tokens of this kind.

The fear of maximalists is that the real conception of Bitcoin, as a layer for the transfer of digital value, will be lost, and we will increasingly move towards an ecosystem full of gamblers and tokens with useless intrinsic value.

However, even though on paper they are “useless”, these new tokens will not weigh on the Bitcoin chain, will not lead to an increase in fees as happened with Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens, and will not create any kind of structural obstacles.

Skepticism and fear of Runes detractors rather refer to the situation of the Solana and Ethereum worlds, where memecoins have taken an unexpected turn and excessively congest the two infrastructures.

Two days before the most anticipated launch by the bitcoin community degens, Leonidas also announced the arrival of an airdrop for all holders of “Runestone“: in particular, each holder will receive an airdrop of 3 memecoins Runes as soon as the protocol goes live.

All we know is that the first of these 3 will be a dog.

Alessandro Adami
Alessandro Adami
Graduated in "Information, Media and Advertising", for over 4 years interested in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. Co-Founder of Tokenparty, community active in spreading crypto-enthusiasm. Co-founder of Legal Hackers Civitanova marche. Information technology consultant. Ethereum Fan Boy and supporter of Chainlink oracles, strongly believes that smart contracts will be central in the development of society.