Journal of Grid Computing

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 3–22 | Cite as

A Journey into Bitcoin Metadata

  • Massimo BartolettiEmail author
  • Bryn Bellomy
  • Livio Pompianu


Besides recording transfers of currency, the Bitcoin blockchain is being used to save metadata — i.e. arbitrary pieces of data which do not affect transfers of bitcoins. This can be done by using different techniques, and for different purposes. For instance, a growing number of protocols embed metadata in the blockchain to certify and transfer the ownership of a variety of assets beyond cryptocurrency. A point of debate in the Bitcoin community is whether metadata negatively impact on the effectiveness of Bitcoin with respect to its primary function. This paper is a systematic analysis of the usage of Bitcoin metadata over the years. We discuss all the known techniques to embed metadata in the Bitcoin blockchain; we then extract metadata, and analyse them from different angles.


Bitcoin Blockchain Measurements 


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We thank Nicola Atzei for the insightful discussion on a preliminary version of this paper. This work is partially supported by Aut. Reg. of Sardinia projects Sardcoin and Smart collaborative engineering, and by COST Action IC1406 cHiPSET.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Matematica e InformaticaUniversità degli Studi di CagliariCagliariItaly
  2. 2.ConsenSysBrooklynUSA

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