Why bitcoin needs a new symbol

Photo: Medium

The crypto community is facing a conundrum: Bitcoin has become too expensive.

The original cryptocurrency, released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, trades for $10,000 apiece. For mom and pop investors, that number seems far too rich, in part because many retail buyers don’t realize they can buy a fraction of a bitcoin.

But the larger problem is that bitcoin’s price is practically prohibitive because people don’t want to deal with decimals. Right now, if you want to buy a $10 pastrami sandwich for lunch, that would cost 0.001 bitcoins. The moment bitcoin deviates from $10,000 the deli special may cost 0.00094339 BTC. (Not exactly a round number.) And it doesn’t help the few retailers willing to accept bitcoin that the price fluctuates constantly.

While bitcoin’s volatility is a deterrent to its usage, there’s no reason the currency’s denomination should also stand in the way. Addressing the aversion to decimals is solvable, and if the mental obstacle is removed, it could encourage people to use bitcoin in their day to day lives.

Rather than trade in fractions of bitcoin, people could use a different unit, like the Satoshi. Named for bitcoin’s creator, the Satoshi is the smallest unit of bitcoin, equivalent to 0.00000001 BTC. (There are eight decimal places.) At current prices, that makes one Satoshi equal to one-hundredth of a penny.

Of course, that still seems a little impractical. A $10 pastrami sandwich would cost 100,000 Satoshis. For a currency, that’s not ideal, but it’s probably easier to intuit than 0.001 BTC. Like the US dollar, bitcoin has other denominations, too.

1 Satoshi= 0.00000001 BTC
10 Satoshi= 0.00000010 BTC
100 Satoshi= 0.00000100 BTC= 1 μBTC (you-bit)
1,000 Satoshi= 0.00001000 BTC
10,000 Satoshi= 0.00010000 BTC
100,000 Satoshi= 0.00100000 BTC= 1 mBTC (em-bit)
1,000,000 Satoshi= 0.01000000 BTC= 1 cBTC (bitcent)
10,000,000 Satoshi= 0.10000000 BTC
100,000,000 Satoshi= 1.00000000 BTC


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