What is SATS? Bitcoin's BRC-20 token explained

Did you think BRC-20 tokens were just a fad that'd fade into obscurity? Some community members still believe that, especially Bitcoin maximalists. But with Bitcoin picking up steam in 2023, inscriptions have been thrown into the spotlight again. Before we explore BRC-20 token SATS, it's essential to understand the distinction between SATS and sats (the capitalization is important), particularly if you're new to the crypto world.

SATS represent an innovative token developed on the BRC-20 standard. In contrast, 'sats," short for satoshis, reference the smallest unit of Bitcoin, paying tribute to its pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. One Bitcoin equals 100 million satoshis, making sats fundamental to Bitcoin's structure. Unlike SATS, sats aren't a separate token but a fractional part of Bitcoin, essential for microtransactions and enhancing Bitcoin's scalability.


  • SATS vs. sats: SATS are innovative BRC-20 tokens, not to be confused with 'sats,' the smallest Bitcoin unit. SATS marks a significant step in Bitcoin's evolution towards hosting fungible tokens.

  • BRC-20 standard explained: Emerging from the Bitcoin ordinals protocol, BRC-20 tokens like SATS enable token creation and transfer on Bitcoin's network, despite lacking Ethereum's ERC-20 smart contract functionality.

  • Mixed community reactions: While introducing SATS and BRC-20 tokens to Bitcoin brings new opportunities, such as tokenization and peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers, it's also sparked debates on the potential increase in transaction costs and whether it strays away from Bitcoin's original purpose.

  • SATS growing popularity: Despite the potential for scams and other issues still being worked out, SATS is seeing an increase in popularity due to its listing on various exchanges, which is a sign the crypto market is growing in interest.

  • Future of BRC-20 tokens: Questions remain concerning the lasting effect of BRC-20 tokens such as SATS as they're debated within the Bitcoin community.

What are SATS?

SATS is part of the ordinals-driven movement that arrived in March 2023, and represents a significant step in bringing fungible tokens to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The ordinals protocol is a fundamental tool that tracks single satoshis (the smallest denomination of Bitcoin) and allocates them distinct IDs. SATS is devised to inscribe words onto these sats, creating interchangeable tokens and thus broadening Bitcoin's potential to include interchangeable and non-interchangeable tokens.

The BRC-20 token standard allows for deploying, minting, and transferring these tokens. Key features of this standard include protocol type, functions to execute, asset symbol, and maximum token supply. This framework simplifies the process of acquiring new tokens to a user's wallet and enables their trading through dedicated marketplaces or exchanges. It's worth flagging that each step in creating and moving BRC-20 tokens involves a network charge, which can vary depending on the Bitcoin fee rate.

SATS and other BRC-20 tokens currently lack smart contract functionality, unlike ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. This limitation, however, doesn't detract from the growing interest and diverse applications of BRC-20 tokens. They're used for various purposes, from facilitating microtransactions to enabling decentralized financial (DeFi) services on the Bitcoin blockchain.

BRC-20 tokens like SATS, are ushering in a new wave of functionality and creativity. Initially beginning as meme coins and NFTs, the potential for these tokens to develop into more complicated applications, like DeFi, is currently being examined.

What is the BRC-20 token standard?

The development of the BRC-20 token standard was sparked by the introduction of the Bitcoin ordinals protocol in January 2023. Domo, an anonymous programmer, then took the idea of NFTs one step further by creating the concept of fungible tokens, leading to the conception of the BRC-20 token standard in March 2023.

BRC-20 tokens deploy token contracts, create new tokens, and support the transfer of tokens by implementing JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data inscriptions. This standard allows three main functions: deploying, minting, and transferring of tokens.

ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum operate through smart contracts, while BRC-20 tokens can work directly on the Bitcoin blockchain using the JSON inscriptions.

The integration of BRC-20 tokens has broadened the Bitcoin network's horizons, allowing for the hosting of various digital assets without the hassles that come with Ethereum's Solidity coding. This adds an extra layer of security thanks to the robustness of the Bitcoin network. These tokens can be used for various tasks, such as P2P transfers, providing the groundwork and inspiration for decentralized applications (DApps).

Compared with the ERC-20 standard employed on Ethereum, the BRC-20 standard is notably distinct. Since ERC-20 tokens were set up in 2015 and officially accepted in 2017, they have a fully developed environment with numerous features enabled by smart contracts. On the other hand, BRC-20 tokens are more constrained in their capacity as they don't use smart contracts.

This makes them less versatile compared to ERC-20 tokens, which can interact with other protocols and applications to enable services like borrowing and lending.

BRC-20 tokens have great potential but are still experimental. Meme token projects are currently the most popular use case, which spotlights their current restrictions. The fact that creating BRC-20 tokens is so easy has also raised concerns about a potential decrease in value and an increase in low-value tokens. As the BRC-20 standard progresses, many believe the Bitcoin community must tackle these issues.

How does SATS Work?

It's important to understand that while SATS operates on the Bitcoin blockchain, it's distinct from standard Bitcoin transactions. Here's a breakdown of how SATS works within this framework:

Deploying SATS BRC-20 tokens

The metadata of SATS token is inscribed onto the Bitcoin blockchain by having it in JSON form. It contains essential information about the token, like the type of protocol, operations, token symbol, supply limit, minting limit, and number of decimal places.

Minting process

The minting process involves generating a specific number of tokens, using JSON inscriptions. Upon confirmation by the network, these tokens are allocated to the creator's address, like a transaction made to their address.

Transferring tokens

Transferring SATS tokens requires another inscription, where the operation is set to 'transfer,' and the amount to be sent is specified. A typical Bitcoin transaction then occurs, transferring the inscription (and as a result, the tokens) from one address to another. While the Bitcoin protocol sees this as a standard transaction, it doesn't interpret the embedded data containing the BRC-20 token information.

The introduction of SATS BRC-20 tokens has sparked various debates within the Bitcoin community, particularly concerning the rise in transaction fees and the deviation from Bitcoin's original purpose as a P2P transaction system. Despite these debates, SATS BRC-20 represents an innovation in the Bitcoin ecosystem, offering new functionalities but presenting several challenges at this early stage of development.

The evolution and community response to SATS

SATS and BRC-20 tokens have created a divided response in the Bitcoin community, broadly categorized into two groups:

The pro-fees group

  • Supporters of higher transaction fees.

  • Believes higher fees are essential for Bitcoin's sustainability, particularly as block rewards decrease over time.

  • Views the demand for block space, driven by innovations like SATS, as a positive development for Bitcoin's future.

The low-fees group

  • Critical of the increased transaction fees, seeing them as a departure from Bitcoin's original purpose.

  • Concerned about higher fees limiting Bitcoin's use as an alternative to fiat in various countries.

  • Some members perceive ordinals and BRC-20 tokens as potentially detrimental to the integrity of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Challenges and considerations

SATS is still in an experimental phase with several challenges.

  • The infrastructure is relatively limited.

  • There's a high risk of scams due to the early stage of the technology.

  • Concerns about the real utility of the tokens.

  • They're heavily influenced by social media and community sentiment.

Despite these challenges, SATS BRC-20 tokens have opened up new possibilities for the Bitcoin network, such as:

  • Tokenization and seamless P2P transfers.

  • Potential applications in DeFi.

SATS has sparked vibrant discussions within the Bitcoin community. The story shows how innovation and new technologies can help and how difficult it is to use them with existing systems.

What's new with SATS?

Will the 2023 hype for inscriptions carry over into 2024? With Bitcoin gaining more momentum over the last few months, inscriptions have also benefited from the attention.

  • OKX has recently listed SATS on its spot market, enabling users to trade SATS against USDT. Deposits for SATS began on December 15, with spot trading kicking off on December 18.

  • Following its listing on OKX and amid rumors of a possible Coinbase listing, SATS witnessed a remarkable price surge. From the beginning of December 2023, its value rose over 470%, reaching a new all-time high on December 15.

  • There are whispers about the possibility that Coinbase may list SATS, which could increase its price. Coinbase hasn't made any official statements confirming this.

  • SATS made the "largest gainers in 7 days" list according to data from aggregator BRC-20 Station on X on December 14, 2023.

The final word

Are you curious about the buzz around SATS in the BRC-20 space? These tokens, not to be confused with the smallest Bitcoin unit 'sats,' emerged under the BRC-20 standard in the Bitcoin ecosystem. The BRC-20 standard, inspired by the Bitcoin ordinals protocol, allows the creation and transfer of tokens, diversifying Bitcoin's use cases.

Despite a mixed response from the Bitcoin community about its effect on transaction fees and Bitcoin's original purpose, BRC-20 tokens such as SATS have become increasingly popular and have been listed on major platforms. This is despite SATS not possessing the same smart contract capabilities as Ethereum's ERC-20 tokens.

While SATS faces challenges like limited infrastructure and scam risks, its potential in the DeFi space keeps the excitement alive. Will SATS and BRC-20 tokens be a lasting addition to the Bitcoin network, or are they simply a passing trend?

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