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

Marcel Jamin marcel at jamin.net
Thu Dec 14 08:02:44 UTC 2017

On 13 December 2017 at 22:36, David A. Harding via bitcoin-dev
<bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> - 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.

Reposting /u/BashCo's post on reddit here, for visibility:


> Before anyone says 'bits' are too confusing because it's a computer science term, here's a list of homonyms [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_true_homonyms] that you use every day. Homonyms are fine because our brains are able to interpret language based on context, so it's a non-argument. Also, the term 'bits' was used in reference to money long before 'bits and bytes' came along, and even before the metric system itself.

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_(money)

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_colonial_real

> 'Bits' are superior to mBTC partly because we'll need to transition to bits eventually anyways (one transition is easier than two), but more importantly, bits have two decimal places, matching the format of dozens of other major currencies.

> No other currency has 8 decimal places, or even 4 decimal places. Most of them have 2. Dollars and cents, Bits and satoshis.

> If people actually want this to happen, then they need to train their own brains by switching their wallets and exchange settings to bits. The shift will probably happen eventually, although the major Bitcoin denomination probably isn't going anywhere any time soon, even if the majority of people use 'bits' as a matter of habit.

> 99.99 bits is currently equal to $1.63 USD.


> - 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

I wouldn't expect people to type out µBTC. I think the best you can
hope for here is uBTC. As for saying "microbitcoins", I can virtually
guarantee that this will be abbreviated to "microbits" and/or
eventually "bits" anyway. Bits and sats.

> [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
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