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Author Topic: Bitcoin split like stock split  (Read 2226 times)
JustJake
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February 11, 2013, 04:01:08 PM
 #1

This is a working idea so I am open to feedback and discussion.

Much is said on this forum about how people have a very hard time grasping very large numbers.  The same can be said with very small numbers.  For instance .000143 and .0000143 are an order of magnitude different but even with the direct comparison it is hard for the brain to make a determination of significance.  What if they were not next to each other to compare?  It is that much more difficult.  This thinking was brought about when I was trying to determine what the recommended transaction fee actually was.  It is something that requires a concentrated effort.

I see this mental issue having an impact on Bitcoin adoption.  If 1 Bitcoin is worth $60 next year are you really prepared to pay for a soft drink with BTC0.0208.  What if it reaches $1200.  The soft drink would be BTC0.00104.  'Is that a lot?' a lay person would ask.  The more Bitcoin are worth the more significant those digits after the decimal become.  Large numbers are easier for us because in our notation we delineate with a comma or period every 3 digits to help our brains but we don't have a system for doing that in the other direction.

One solution that could be implemented is an agreed upon Bitcoin split.  If everyone agreed that suddenly every bitcoin was actually 10 bitcoin then everyone keeps their value and a mental barrier to using Bitcoin is removed.  In this case my wallet of BTC25.837 becomes BTC258.37.  Bitcoin USD transaction rate is $2.387 instead of $23.87.  Block reward is 250 instead of 25 and total Bitcoin mined ever becomes 210 million.

Here are some arguments against this idea:
1) If that's how the founding father wanted it, it would have been in the white paper.
a) True that this is how it was implemented.  However, it was good to have a small number like 21 million for early adoption and for the bitcoin currency to gain some sort of parity with the USD.  No one took it seriously when Bitcoin was 5 for a penny.  Now the opposite effect might be true.
2) Machines have no issue making the distinction between small numbers.
a) If Bitcoin is going to forever remain in the domain of collectors item and online transaction then I agree there is no need for a split.  This is only useful if you want normal people to use Bitcoin for normal people things.  While bitcoin is better than gold because of its divisibility that won't matter if people have to think really hard every time they want to use it.  I would like bitcoin to be a currency, not a commodity whose worth is governed by its fiat trade value like gold is.
3) This would be a nightmare to implement across the board and can you imagine the scams popping up over this?
a) I don't really have a answer to this one.  It would require a great deal of community organization to do it and the communication network to everyone who owns bitcoin is definitely lacking.  Some people would certainly be confused for a while.  On the other hand, if this is determined to be a useful thing to do it would be best to work out kinks now because the bitcoin community is not getting any smaller.


Let me know if there is anything that I may have missed.  I think it may be a useful exercise for bitcoin to do something like this.  It isn't inflation because in inflation people's money supply does not grow with the total money supply.  In a split you have full parity.  I think it follows all the tenets and purposes of Bitcoin and allows for the fact that in the end we are still dealing with people.
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February 11, 2013, 04:07:31 PM
 #2

Or instead of trying to "fix" this and risk splitting BTC in two parties we just use mB at some point.
Which is also already implemented in the Client. You can change the view in your Options.

You know: 1000 mB = 1 B

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DeathAndTaxes
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February 11, 2013, 04:07:40 PM
Last edit: February 11, 2013, 09:36:49 PM by DeathAndTaxes
 #3

4) It is impossible.

Barring a scenario where you convince 100.0% of all users (not miners all users) including those not participating in the community, and those offline with copies of the blockchain and older clients the best you can do is create an incompatible fork.  No matter what you do outside of a complete and universal global consensus the original 21M BTC fork will still exist.  You can't stop that fork from continuing.

Still no reason to use small numbers, use mBTC.  

"If 1 Bitcoin is worth $60 next year are you really prepared to pay for a soft drink with BTC0.0208."
If 1 BTC = $60 then 1 mBTC = $0.06.  Most people would price things in mBTC.  That soda would be 20 mBTC. A discount steam game might be 80 mBTC.  BFL Jalapeno might go for 2,500 mBTC.  

"What if it reaches $1200.  The soft drink would be BTC0.00104."

At >$1000 exchange rate it is very probably that almost all consumer transactions will be priced in mBTC.  There is no reason that exchanges couldn't by default show bids and quotes in mBTC:USD and many likely would (i.e. some future version o MtGox homepage shows "Last price:$1.2238 per mBTC".  That soda would be 1mBTC BTW.  I could see Cascius making a 1 mBTC coin given a high enough exchange rate.
JustJake
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February 11, 2013, 04:29:46 PM
 #4

File this under you learn something new every day.  mBTC is something I had never stumbled upon.  Works great.  Thanks.
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February 11, 2013, 07:16:03 PM
 #5

Just wanted to add since no one mentioned it, there are already a handful of sites that use mBTC. Ogrr.com does all its pricing in mBTC. In fact, they'll even list stuff in amounts of 1,000 mBTC sometimes, because they don't even prefer using a regular BTC designation. There's a social news site or QA site that lists stuff in mBTC by default, too.

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February 13, 2013, 08:00:06 AM
 #6

This is addressed in the FAQ : https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/FAQ#What_do_I_call_the_various_denominations_of_bitcoins.3F

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