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Author Topic: Will/Should the decimal in BitCoin measurements be removed?  (Read 2915 times)
21after2
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January 13, 2013, 04:40:13 AM
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One of the arguments I've heard to disarm the deflationary nature of Bitcoins is that Bitcoins are divisible to eight places, resulting in 2,100,000,000,000,000 total BTC units in circulation. I read a recent topic on the forum about how Bitcoin prices could be posted in the future, as writing price tags for a price of "0.00000050" would be inefficient.

I'm thinking the easiest way to relate Bitcoin totals in the future will be to remove the decimal from the equation. The total units of BTC would remain the same and prices could be easily written and registered in the minds of consumers. Let's face it: the general population likes things simple, so simple steps such as this idea can go a long way towards improving user adoption by cleaning up confusing aspects of the currency.

Is this an idea that has already been put forth? I'm curious to know what everyone thinks about it, and whether or not the decimal should be removed in the future.
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January 13, 2013, 04:45:37 AM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   
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January 13, 2013, 04:50:26 AM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


I didn't take into effect how it would change the mining process. That stuff goes a bit over my head, to be honest. Would something like that require a major change in the software? The values would essentially remain the same.
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January 13, 2013, 05:33:27 AM
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I feel the decimal serves the same purpose you are asking for. As of now 1 BTC being around $14 is pretty easy to work out.  And at the same time it has the flexibility to grow into an age where decimal values are used for daily transactions.  By then I imagine people will be used to it and figure out a convienent system.
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January 13, 2013, 06:05:21 AM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


There is no need for a hard fork at all. The bitcoin protocol is already using integer (in satoshis) for transactions

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January 13, 2013, 06:05:47 AM
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The values are stored in the blockchain and handled in the software as integers.  The decimal point is only placed there by the client software to make the values more manageable right now for humans while they require so many zeros. There is already a rather common nickname used for the value without the decimal, it is often called a "Satoshi", so 100,000,000 Satoshi is 1 BTC.  It's a lot easier to say something that is valued at approximately $150 USD costs 10.61 BTC, rather than 1,061,000,000 Satoshi. As has been mentioned, just like US currency has names or nicknames for various denominations (cent, dime, greenback, fin, sawbuck, Jackson, Benjamin, etc) there will likely be other nicknames in the future for other multiples of Bitcoin.

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January 13, 2013, 06:16:58 AM
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The values are stored in the blockchain and handled in the software as integers.  The decimal point is only placed there by the client software to make the values more manageable right now for humans while they require so many zeros. There is already a rather common nickname used for the value without the decimal, it is often called a "Satoshi", so 100,000,000 Satoshi is 1 BTC.  It's a lot easier to say something that is valued at approximately $150 USD costs 10.61 BTC, rather than 1,061,000,000 Satoshi. As has been mentioned, just like US currency has names or nicknames for various denominations (cent, dime, greenback, fin, sawbuck, Jackson, Benjamin, etc) there will likely be other nicknames in the future for other multiples of Bitcoin.

At that point the value of BTC may have changed enough to where it wouldn't take so many Satoshis to equal one dollar. If it got, for sake of argument, to the point where two Satoshis = one USD, then you could say something that sells for $150 would be BTC300. Of course the values probably won't be that easy, but I would think the value of lower denomination Bitcoins would be closer to USD for it to work as long as Bitcoin grows large enough. So theoretically the decimal wouldn't have to be removed until such a time where it grew big enough to warrant it.

Of course, as you guys have mentioned, by that point people may have gotten used to using the denominational terms for BTC and it wouldn't be needed. I guess this idea could also end up causing confusion trying to end confusion, lol.
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January 13, 2013, 06:26:58 AM
 #8

It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.

Millibit seems to be the most commonly used term for each 0.001 BTC (1 mBTC).
 - http://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/MilliBit

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January 14, 2013, 04:15:20 PM
 #9

One of the arguments I've heard to disarm the deflationary nature of Bitcoins is that Bitcoins are divisible to eight places, resulting in 2,100,000,000,000,000 total BTC units in circulation. I read a recent topic on the forum about how Bitcoin prices could be posted in the future, as writing price tags for a price of "0.00000050" would be inefficient.

I'm thinking the easiest way to relate Bitcoin totals in the future will be to remove the decimal from the equation. The total units of BTC would remain the same and prices could be easily written and registered in the minds of consumers. Let's face it: the general population likes things simple, so simple steps such as this idea can go a long way towards improving user adoption by cleaning up confusing aspects of the currency.

Is this an idea that has already been put forth? I'm curious to know what everyone thinks about it, and whether or not the decimal should be removed in the future.

I think it will happen someday but is at least 5 years down the road. It's been mentioned a few times that it is possible to do this and is a likely solution. But a larger looming problem we face is the size of the blockchain. Once we get past that hurdle we can start worrying about lost bitcoins overtaking mining supply and increased velocity of money.
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January 14, 2013, 04:41:27 PM
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I currently have 4GB of physical memory and 2TB hard drive - people 30 years ago would have struggled with this nomenclature since it was unimaginable.
Nomenclature evolves naturally - no one worried about this in the past - 'what we will call a billion kilobytes?'
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January 14, 2013, 05:38:02 PM
 #11

No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


This.

When coffee costs 0.00000012 btc, then starbucks will just say, "That'll be 12 satoshis for the latte"

Problem solved.
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January 14, 2013, 05:48:36 PM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


This.

When coffee costs 0.00000012 btc, then starbucks will just say, "That'll be 12 satoshis for the latte"

Problem solved.


And a couple decades later, 12 milli-satoshis  Grin

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January 14, 2013, 05:52:40 PM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


um wouldnt people just adopt clients that represented value in satoshis instead of btc? then retailers would symeltanously price their items in satoshis instead of btc. The protocol wouldn't change at all but our terminology and the way that we chose to talk about btc and represent btc would change. So if this happened then deep in the programming/protocol there would still be a decimal place but that decimal would only be relevant to the technically inclined who were involved in bitcoin software/hardware development.

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January 14, 2013, 06:08:11 PM
 #14

No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork. 

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.   


This.

When coffee costs 0.00000012 btc, then BitBrew will just say, "That'll be 12 satoshis for the latte"

Problem solved.


FTFY  Wink

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January 14, 2013, 06:50:40 PM
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No and it never will.  A change like that would require literally 100% support of all users as it would be a hard incompatible fork.  

No need to use tiny decimals though.   5 mBTC vs 0.005 BTC.   5 uBTC vs 0.000005 BTC.  It is possible people will call these by slang or informal names.  i.e. millies of mikes.  


um wouldnt people just adopt clients that represented value in satoshis instead of btc? then retailers would symeltanously price their items in satoshis instead of btc. The protocol wouldn't change at all but our terminology and the way that we chose to talk about btc and represent btc would change. So if this happened then deep in the programming/protocol there would still be a decimal place but that decimal would only be relevant to the technically inclined who were involved in bitcoin software/hardware development.

Well I don't think we will be pricing things in Satoshi's anytime soon.  If 1 BTC = $50,000 USD then 1 satoshi is still only worth one 20th of a US cent. Of course clients will price things in other units (it already does).  As BTC rises in price the first unit likely to gain acceptance is mBTC (milliBitcoin or 1/1000th of a BTC).  

For example say BTC has the buying power of roughly $280.  1 mBTC = $0.28.   MtGox for example might show bids and asks in mBTC.   You may place an order to sell 50,00 mBTC @ $0.2950 ea and before that you might create a transaction in your offline wallet to transfer 100,000 mBTC to the exchange.  Someone might be selling a new steam game for 70 mBTC.   Yes clients, forums, web services, and people will likely use mBTC over tiny fractional BTC.  Usually this is where someone objects that "people will never learn metric".  They won't have to.  They will know 1 mBTC is worth ~$0.28 and that is all that matters.  Hell the MtGox ticker on the frontpage might be in mBTC not BTC by then. By informally I mean people probably won't say "xxx micro Bitcoins".  Some informal version will arise possibly millies or millibits.  Much like today most people don't say "that will be one and twenty hundredths of a US federal reserve note" they say "it will be a buck twenty".

Note: at the protocol level (even now) there are no decimals.  Everything is represented as an integer.  When you transfer 1 BTC you are actually creating a transaction for 100,000,000 base units.  We informally call those base units satoshis.
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January 14, 2013, 08:43:19 PM
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Everyone who thinks the metric system is hard to understand should take a look at this  Cheesy

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January 14, 2013, 08:51:48 PM
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um wouldnt people just adopt clients that represented value in satoshis instead of btc?
You can already set the reference client to display values in Bitcoins, Millies or Mikes. It would be a straightforward patch to allow Satoshis too.

Nanobitcoins would be a better choice than satoshis, given how the latter is likely to change value in the next few years when decimal points are added.
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January 14, 2013, 11:30:16 PM
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Everyone who thinks the metric system is hard to understand should take a look at this  Cheesy



Well, when you put it like that, of course it looks bad! Tongue
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January 15, 2013, 09:25:23 AM
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Everyone who thinks the metric system is hard to understand should take a look at this  Cheesy




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January 15, 2013, 03:46:35 PM
 #20

If I understand correctly, Bitcoin is stored internally as an integer. I would be supportive of moving the decimal place so that you only have hundreds after the decimal place. I hate the idea of a day coming when people buy gum for .0000002 BTC.

I know there is slang already for satoshis or "mikes" etc... but I've noticed through traveling that countries use different money slang in different places for different amounts- some of them not so sensible. Relying on a world-wide slang to cope with too many zeros in digits seems difficult to do.

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