[bitcoin-dev] BIP Proposal: Utilization of bits denomination

David A. Harding dave at dtrt.org
Wed Dec 13 21:36:07 UTC 2017

On Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 01:46:09PM -0600, Jimmy Song via bitcoin-dev wrote:
> Hey all,
> I am proposing an informational BIP to standardize the term "bits". The
> term has been around a while, but having some formal informational standard
> helps give structure to how the term is used.
> https://github.com/jimmysong/bips/blob/unit-bias/bip-unit-bias.mediawiki

Wallets and other software is already using this term, so I think it's a
good idea to ensure its usage is normalized.

That said, I think the term is unnecessary and confusing given that
microbitcoins provides all of the same advantages and at least two
additional advantages:

- Microbitcoins is not a homonym for any other word in English (and
  probably not in any other language), whereas "bit" and "bits" have
  more than a dozen homonyms in English---some of which are quite common
  in general currency usage, Bitcoin currency usage, or Bitcoin
  technical usage.

- Microbitcoins trains users to understand SI prefixes, allowing them to
  easily migrate from one prefix to the next.  This will be important
  when bitcoin prices rise to $10M USD[1] and the bits denomination has
  the same problems the millibitcoin denomination has now, but it's also
  useful in the short term when interacting with users who make very
  large payments (bitcoin-scale) or very small payments
  (nanobitcoin-scale).[2]  Maybe a table of scale can emphasize this

      Wrong (IMO):        Right (IMO):
      ---------------     --------------
      BTC                 BTC
      mBTC                mBTC
      bits                µBTC
      nBTC                nBTC
[1] A rise in price to $10M doesn't require huge levels of growth---it
only requires time under the assumption that a percentage of bitcoins will
be lost every year due to wallet mishaps, failure to inherit bitcoins,
and other issues that remove bitcoins from circulation.  In other words,
it's important to remember that Bitcoin is expected to become a
deflationary currency and plan accordingly.

[2] Although Bitcoin does not currently support committed
nanobitcoin-scale payments in the block chain, it can be supported in a
variety of ways by offchain systems---including (it is hypothesized)
trustless systems based on probabilistic payments.


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