Ordinals: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research August 10, 2023

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  • Cryptocurrency ordinals are unique numerical identifiers assigned to transactions, enabling the chronological ordering of transactions within a blockchain
  • Ordinals have been a fundamental part of blockchain technology since Bitcoin's inception, establishing a chronological order of transactions
  • Cryptocurrency ordinals serve multiple purposes, including transaction ordering, block verification, and consensus mechanisms
  • Cryptocurrency ordinals contribute to the robustness and security of blockchain networks


Cryptocurrency ordinals are unique numerical identifiers assigned to transactions, enabling the chronological ordering of transactions within a blockchain. Blockchain, at its core, is a distributed ledger that records transactions across a network of computers. Each transaction is bundled into a block and added to a chain of previous blocks, forming a chronological sequence. Ordinals come into play as a means of uniquely identifying and ordering these blocks and transactions.

A Brief History

Ordinals have been an integral part of blockchain technology since its inception with Bitcoin in 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin, introduced the concept of ordinals as a way to establish a chronological order of transactions. By assigning a unique number to each block, it became possible to track the sequence of transactions and ensure the integrity of the blockchain.

Ordinals: Everything to Know

In the realm of cryptocurrencies, ordinals serve multiple purposes. Firstly, they provide a way to establish the order of transactions within a blockchain. This ordering is crucial for maintaining the integrity of a network and preventing double-spending. Each transaction is assigned a unique identifier, and these identifiers are arranged in a sequential manner, forming a chain of transactions.

Furthermore, ordinals enable the verification of blocks within a blockchain. Miners, the participants responsible for adding new blocks to the blockchain, use ordinals to validate the order and integrity of transactions. By solving complex mathematical puzzles, miners compete to create new blocks and append them to the existing chain. The ordinals of these blocks act as proof-of-work, ensuring that the transactions within them are valid and the chain remains unaltered.

In addition to their role in transaction ordering and block verification, ordinals also play a crucial role in consensus mechanisms. Consensus mechanisms are the protocols that ensure all participants in a blockchain network agree on the state of the ledger. Ordinals help establish which block is the latest and valid one, facilitating consensus among network participants.

Getting Started

To understand cryptocurrency ordinals, it is essential to grasp the fundamentals of blockchain technology. At its core, a blockchain is a decentralized and distributed ledger that records transactions across multiple computers or nodes. Each transaction is grouped into a block, which is then added to the chain in a sequential order.

Cryptocurrency ordinals are the numerical values assigned to each block in a blockchain. These ordinals determine the position of a block within the chain and establish a chronological order for the transactions. The first block in a blockchain is often referred to as the genesis block, and subsequent blocks are numbered sequentially.

Unique Aspects

Cryptocurrency ordinals offer several unique aspects that contribute to the robustness and security of blockchain networks. One of the key features is immutability. Once a block is added to the chain and assigned an ordinal, it becomes practically impossible to alter or remove the block without invalidating the entire chain. This immutability ensures that past transactions remain tamper-proof, enhancing the trust and reliability of a blockchain.

Another important aspect of cryptocurrency ordinals is the role in achieving consensus among network participants. Consensus mechanisms, such as proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS), rely on the ordinal values to determine the valid chain in cases of competing blocks. Nodes in the network follow the longest chain with the highest ordinal, ensuring agreement on the state of the blockchain.

Furthermore, cryptocurrency ordinals facilitate efficient block validation and synchronization across the network. By referencing the ordinal of the previous block, nodes can quickly verify the integrity of a new block. This process enables rapid propagation of valid blocks throughout the network, contributing to the overall speed and scalability of blockchain systems.

Cryptocurrency ordinals also play a vital role in maintaining the security of the blockchain. They are an integral part of the cryptographic hash functions used to secure each block. The ordinal value, along with the block's data, is inputted into the hash function, producing a unique digital fingerprint or hash. Any modification to the block's data or ordinal would result in a completely different hash, alerting the network to tampering attempts.


  • Transparency - Cryptocurrency transactions are recorded on a public ledger known as the blockchain. This transparency ensures that all transactions can be traced and verified, reducing the possibility of fraud or manipulation.
  • Security - Cryptocurrencies employ advanced cryptographic techniques to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. This makes them highly resistant to hacking and counterfeiting, providing a secure means of transferring value.
  • Accessibility - Cryptocurrencies enable anyone with an internet connection to participate in the financial system, regardless of their location or background. This inclusivity empowers individuals who may have limited access to traditional banking services.
  • Fast and Efficient Transactions - Cryptocurrency transactions can be processed quickly, especially when compared to traditional banking systems. This speed is particularly beneficial for cross-border transactions, which can often be time-consuming and costly.
  • Lower Transaction Fees - Cryptocurrency transactions generally incur lower fees compared to traditional financial systems. This is because cryptocurrencies bypass intermediaries such as banks, reducing the associated costs.
  • Decentralization - Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralized networks, meaning that no single entity has control over the entire system. This decentralization reduces the risk of censorship, government interference or single points of failure.


  • Volatility - Cryptocurrencies are known for price volatility, which can lead to significant fluctuations in value over short periods. This volatility makes them a high-risk investment and may deter some individuals from using them as a medium of exchange.
  • Lack of Regulation - The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies means they are not subject to the same level of regulation as traditional financial systems. This can create challenges in terms of consumer protection, fraud prevention and market stability.
  • Scalability - As cryptocurrencies gain popularity, scalability becomes a concern. Some blockchain networks struggle to handle a large number of transactions, resulting in slower confirmation times and higher fees.
  • Energy Consumption - Certain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, require substantial amounts of energy for mining and transaction processing. This energy consumption has raised concerns about the environmental impact and sustainability of cryptocurrency networks.
  • Irreversibility - Once a cryptocurrency transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, it is generally irreversible. This lack of reversibility can be problematic in cases of fraudulent or mistaken transactions, as there is no central authority to intervene and reverse the transaction.