BRC-20 tokens bleed ahead of Bitcoin halving as trader focus shifts to Runes


The two largest BRC-20 tokens saw over 40% declines on the weekly chart, days ahead of the Bitcoin halving. Meanwhile, traders are shifting their focus to Bitcoin Runes, a new token standard on Bitcoin that makes it easier for users to create fungible tokens.

ORDI and SATS down over 40% ahead of the halving

BRC-20 tokens Ordinals (ORDI) and Sats (SATS), the two largest BRC-20 tokens by market capitalization, saw significant declines. ORDI fell over 42%, while SATS fell over 45% over the week, according to CoinMarketCap data.

ORDI & SATS, 1-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

BRC-20 token sales have also been declining. PUPS BRC-20 sales fell by 30% in the past 24 hours to $1.4 million, while WZRD BRC-20 sales fell 63% to $1.1 million, according to NFT data aggregator CryptoSlam.

On the other hand, the daily sales volume of RUNE BRC-20 tokens skyrocketed over 4,500% to $251,000, suggesting that traders are shifting their focus to Bitcoin Runes.

Over the past week, PUPS BRC-20 and WZRD BRC-20 tokens were the second and third-largest collections by sales volume across all blockchains, respectively. PUPS amassed over $41 billion in sales volume, while WZRD amassed $16.3 million in weekly sales, according to CryptoSlam.

Top NFT collections by weekly sales volume. Source: CryptoSlam

The surge of interest in Bitcoin Runes, a new protocol for issuing fungible tokens on the Bitcoin (BTC) network, can be attributed to its upcoming launch, which is set to go live with the Bitcoin halving later this week.

Despite the surging interest, the real market opportunity for Runes may only come months after the first wave of investor hype subsides, according to the pseudonymous, decentralized finance (DeFi) researcher Ignas, who wrote in an April 17 X post:

“Runestone, RSIC, and PUPS are already pumping, promising holders shiny new Rune token airdrops. And FOMO threads keep coming. But, like the NFT frenzy post-JPEG reveal, the market could soon cool off.”

Related: Bitcoin slips below $60K, but some traders aren’t turning bearish on BTC just yet

Rune price in danger after Bitcoin halving

Rune prices could see a significant decline after the halving as they don’t immediately improve the trading experience of BRC-20 tokens and because small traders may be priced out of the increasing Bitcoin transaction fees, according to the pseudonymous researcher.

Daily inscription fees and BRC-20 hype wave. Source: Ignas

Ignas expects hundreds of Runes to potentially launch on the market, diluting trader attention and capital inflows.

Paired with the lack of initial utility around Runes, these aspects will make them akin to memecoin trading, according to the pseudonymous researcher, who wrote:

“Finally, utility-wise runes will trade as memecoins like BRC-20s. At least at first, so the excitement of ‘new’ will fade away. Especially if no rune token manages to sustain the pump and degens lose money.”

However, Runes could progressively gain more functionality, which is why Ignas noted that he was “bullish” on Runes long term.

The Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) is planning a Runes integration, that will enables ICP smart contracts to interact with Runes and BRC-20 tokens directly on Bitcoin’s base layer, unlocking more possibilities for holders.

ICP’s efforts are part of a new paradigm dubbed Bitcoin decentralized finance (DeFi) or BTCFi, aiming to create more utility around BTC and Bitcoin-native assets.

Related: ETH price nears 3-year lows vs. Bitcoin — Will an Ethereum ETF stem the tide?

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.