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Author Topic: Micropayments?  (Read 11283 times)
freetx
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December 25, 2010, 11:15:32 PM
 #1

Hi All:

I'm new to bitcoin, but understand its philosophical basis very well (anti-Fed, pro free-currencies, etc).

I've been playing around with it today, sending payments back and forth between computers and trying out some of the vendor sites....all in all very very cool.....but there is something I'm confused about.

Why can't I send fractional cent payments?

Perhaps its something that I don't yet understand, but to me that seems to be a fairly glaring omission. How can true price discovery happen on a single item (say a PDF) unless fractional cents are possible (ie. maybe access to some digital file is only worth .001 BTC).

As I said, perhaps I'm missing something basic, but I can't seem to figure out how to make the Mac or Linux client send fractional cents.

Regards.

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theymos
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December 25, 2010, 11:17:34 PM
 #2

The protocol supports precision up to eight decimals. The client does not yet expose this much precision.

Here's a high-precision transaction, for example:
http://blockexplorer.com/tx/c7033a2693d18979c49dce4414582b0f241e38b99ef339586e3c284069aeaf5a#o0

1NXYoJ5xU91Jp83XfVMHwwTUyZFK64BoAD
freetx
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December 25, 2010, 11:30:29 PM
 #3

Thanks for the info.

Do you know of any plans to update the clients to support that?

The reason I ask is I have a few ideas that I think could be interesting, but if currently 1 bit coin is approx .25USD, the idea is not feasible since it would be cheaper for people to pay in traditional currency.

Thanks.

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December 25, 2010, 11:55:33 PM
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Do you know of any plans to update the clients to support that?

The current two-decimal precision is not enough for your needs? 0.01 BTC = 0.0025 USD.

The high precision is to deal with deflation, not for extremely low-value transactions. Currently the vast majority of generators won't even accept sub-0.01 transactions. The full precision will probably not be widely available for decades, if ever. Another decimal or two might be added sooner.

Even if most generators did accept sub-0.01 transactions, I expect a transaction fee of at least 0.01 to be required for all transactions in a few years, which would defeat the point.

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December 26, 2010, 12:33:13 AM
 #5

Thanks for the info.

Do you know of any plans to update the clients to support that?

The reason I ask is I have a few ideas that I think could be interesting, but if currently 1 bit coin is approx .25USD, the idea is not feasible since it would be cheaper for people to pay in traditional currency.

Thanks.


Where can you send $.0025 or less?

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December 26, 2010, 01:54:04 AM
 #6

Updating a client to display the additional decimal places is the easy part.  Convincing the network that you really need that kind of precision is more difficult.  If you have an idea that you can articulate that might require additional precision, let us know, but you can currently send fractions of a cent.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 26, 2010, 09:58:31 AM
 #7

Thanks all for the info, I was mistakenly under the impression that a bitcoin was .01 instead of the whole integer (yes, silly mistake)

So, for my purposes .01BTC is fine.
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December 26, 2010, 12:45:47 PM
 #8

I had nearly the same mistake! Thanks for helping!!!
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December 26, 2010, 11:29:22 PM
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The reason the min tx is 0.01 BTC is to avoid the network being flooded with tiny requests, it's an anti denial of service measure.
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December 27, 2010, 02:22:43 AM
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The reason the min tx is 0.01 BTC is to avoid the network being flooded with tiny requests, it's an anti denial of service measure.

I can understand that completely, especially for not allowing .00001 style transactions.

However, why not allow 10.123 to go through? (I know the protocol supports)

Currently, in my 401K I own 1524.34 shares of a mutual fund that is valued at $10.25 each....yielding a total worth of 15,624.485 for that fund.



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December 27, 2010, 02:39:43 AM
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The reason the min tx is 0.01 BTC is to avoid the network being flooded with tiny requests, it's an anti denial of service measure.

I can understand that completely, especially for not allowing .00001 style transactions.

However, why not allow 10.123 to go through? (I know the protocol supports)


That's a good point, actually.  I'm fairly certain that 10.12345678 would be processed without a transaction fee required, as it should be a greater than comparison.  However the vanilla client doesn't support it at present. 

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 27, 2010, 08:20:27 PM
 #12

I doubt that micropayments will be possible and sustainable long-term through the Bitcoin network, so long as every node must learn about every transaction.  There's just not enough bandwidth on a typical internet connection to receive 100 bytes each time anybody anywhere in the world buys a snack or a sword in a game or seeds for their farm.  Micropayments are feasible now while there is unused capacity for free transactions, but as soon as Bitcoin's user base grows to fill that, the transaction fees needed to balance supply and demand of network resources will make micropayments from stand-alone clients infeasible, if for nothing else, the transaction fee will be too high.

Services like Mybitcoin.com are about the only way micropayments are going to be possible long term.  Such services would aggregate them and complete micropayments "off the block chain", and standalone Bitcoin protocol would be left as the backbone for large transfers of money - and the digital equivalent of the "gold in the vault".

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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December 27, 2010, 08:47:10 PM
 #13

I doubt that micropayments will be possible and sustainable long-term through the Bitcoin network, so long as every node must learn about every transaction.  There's just not enough bandwidth on a typical internet connection to receive 100 bytes each time anybody anywhere in the world buys a snack or a sword in a game or seeds for their farm.  Micropayments are feasible now while there is unused capacity for free transactions, but as soon as Bitcoin's user base grows to fill that, the transaction fees needed to balance supply and demand of network resources will make micropayments from stand-alone clients infeasible, if for nothing else, the transaction fee will be too high.

Services like Mybitcoin.com are about the only way micropayments are going to be possible long term.  Such services would aggregate them and complete micropayments "off the block chain", and standalone Bitcoin protocol would be left as the backbone for large transfers of money - and the digital equivalent of the "gold in the vault".

Agree. I think it's cool how bitcoin is bootstrapping itself potentially all the way to a global reserve currency.

There just isn't a need to settle over the network for every little thing once that has some cost. It still makes sense to denominate in bitcoin so that you CAN settle when/if you need to. Centralized database keeping isn't a problem and has a few advantages if people can snap leave like bitcoin allows.

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December 28, 2010, 01:05:51 AM
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Well I think a set of small changes could make the bitcoin network scalable and add the ability for micropayments. First of all a structured network is needed since the just broadcast to everybody method used now is incredibly network intensive, then we have to split the network in two parts, one is composed of all generating nodes (they need to know all transactions) and non-generating nodes (just publishing blocks with aggregated transactions is enough for these). Also one might start thinking about segmenting the network by adding a second smaller difficulty which aggregates transactions in a small cluster which would then be aggregated and signed off by the core network composed of the current implementation.

The current network design does not scale at all, we need to either change it or build a micropayment system around it Cheesy

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MoonShadow
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December 28, 2010, 02:03:11 AM
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Well I think a set of small changes could make the bitcoin network scalable and add the ability for micropayments. First of all a structured network is needed since the just broadcast to everybody method used now is incredibly network intensive, then we have to split the network in two parts, one is composed of all generating nodes (they need to know all transactions) and non-generating nodes (just publishing blocks with aggregated transactions is enough for these). Also one might start thinking about segmenting the network by adding a second smaller difficulty which aggregates transactions in a small cluster which would then be aggregated and signed off by the core network composed of the current implementation.

The current network design does not scale at all, we need to either change it or build a micropayment system around it Cheesy

No.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 28, 2010, 02:10:57 AM
 #16

Well I think a set of small changes could make the bitcoin network scalable and add the ability for micropayments. First of all a structured network is needed since the just broadcast to everybody method used now is incredibly network intensive, then we have to split the network in two parts, one is composed of all generating nodes (they need to know all transactions) and non-generating nodes (just publishing blocks with aggregated transactions is enough for these)...

In practice, Mybitcoin.com is essentially already one such "super node".  It just happens to interact with its users via a web site.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper wallets instead.
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December 28, 2010, 11:37:10 AM
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The current network design does not scale at all, we need to either change it or build a micropayment system around it Cheesy

No.
Care to elaborate?
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December 28, 2010, 11:41:05 AM
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The current network design does not scale at all, we need to either change it or build a micropayment system around it Cheesy

No.
Care to elaborate?

See previous posts in same thread, bitcoin banks will handle that much better than any blockchain.

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December 28, 2010, 12:15:18 PM
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The current network design does not scale at all, we need to either change it or build a micropayment system around it Cheesy

No.
Care to elaborate?

See previous posts in same thread, bitcoin banks will handle that much better than any blockchain.
In the current design, yes, a bitcoin bank handles micropayments better.  I was more concerned with the "does not scale" phrase I quoted.

Where can I find a careful performance analysis of bitcoin?  How does it scale with millions or billions of users, in terms of such things as transaction speed, computational and memory requirements per node, network bandwidth requirements, ...?  

An ideal system would allow a billion human users all to issue 0.0001 BTC transactions at the same time, and have all such transactions (for those users whose local network and computer resources function adequately) to complete in under a second.  I presume that neither bitcoin nor any other system we are aware of can reach this ideal.  But I doubt bitcoin can succeed unless it has a performance analysis, preferably of peer-reviewed research paper quality, and a clear strategy for dealing with whatever manner and way it falls short of the impossible ideal I described.

But I'm new here; so likely such a performance analysis exists and I just have not noticed it yet.
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December 28, 2010, 12:30:34 PM
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In the current design, yes, a bitcoin bank handles micropayments better.  I was more concerned with the "does not scale" phrase I quoted.
It does not scale well for micropayments as every single transaction has to be written down forever in the blockchain stone.

Where can I find a careful performance analysis of bitcoin?  How does it scale with millions or billions of users, in terms of such things as transaction speed, computational and memory requirements per node, network bandwidth requirements, ...?
You are mixing up different things.
 - Performance of the bitcoin client algorithms used for transaction verification
 - Performance of transaction processing

The former is described in satoshi's PDF.
The latter is, by design, subject to the market (see transaction fees)

An idealimaginary system would allow a billion human users all to issue 0.0001 BTC transactions at the same time, and have all such transactions (for those users whose local network and computer resources function adequately) to complete in under a second.  I presume that neither bitcoin nor any other system we are aware of can reach this ideal.
You have to define more clearly what you mean by "completed" for a transaction. Bitcoin transactions are broadcast instantly to the network and currently propagate pretty fast (seconds). Is that a "completed" transaction ? Or is it "completed" when it's buried under three, six, a million blocks ?

But I doubt bitcoin can succeed unless it has a performance analysis, preferably of peer-reviewed research paper quality, and a clear strategy for dealing with whatever manner and way it falls short of the impossible ideal I described.
I think the community is eager to get reviews on satoshi's paper, I won't call it peer review because it has never been stated anywhere (to my knowledge) that satoshi is a researcher, he might even be a group of people.

But I'm new here; so likely such a performance analysis exists and I just have not noticed it yet.
See previous answers, and welcome Smiley


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