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

Sjors Provoost sjors at sprovoost.nl
Thu Dec 14 15:52:24 UTC 2017

As much as I love SI standards, "trains users to understand SI prefixes, allowing them to
easily migrate from one prefix to the next" seems unrealistic. The metric system is about to
have its 220th birthday and people in the US still don't use it.

It makes sense to embrace terms that stick. "bits" as a formal-yet-informal alias for µBTC makes sense to me, unless someone can point to another term that's already commonly used.

I'm not too worried about the word bit having other meanings in common language. The word "bit coin" was introduced in the English language without a problem. A "bit" being 1 millionth of a "bit coin" doesn't seem too difficult. It will give a while new meaning to the expression "a bit expensive" :-)

Rather than nano-bitcoin, I would suggest milli bits.

It's rather unfortunate that 1 satoshi was defined as 10^-8 BTC instead of 10^-9. We could redefine satoshi to 10^-9 BTC. Then we can use kilo-satoshi instead of bits. Then the next step can be satoshi, followed by millisatoshi (you never know).

The smallest amount that can be handled by bitcoin software under this redefinition would be 10 satoshi rather than 1; mostly a matter of changing some source code comments.

The only place where I've seen the unit "satoshi" used is fee estimators. I think it's still early enough that people aren't terribly attached to the numbers shown on those sites (most people express fees in fiat terms, especially when complaining). We could switch from vbytes to weight units at the same time.


> Op 13 dec. 2017, om 22:36 heeft David A. Harding via bitcoin-dev <bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> het volgende geschreven:
> 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
>  point:
>      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.
> Thanks,
> -Dave
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev

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