Bits and Pieces: Bitcoin past the Decimal Point

One question about Bitcoin’s use by the layconsumer is not so much technical as mathematical: how do you deal with eightdecimal places anyway?

From utter confusion which is dangerousenough in itself with one’s accounts to possible rejection of the currency,there is no doubt that should Bitcoin gather global acceptance, its pricingstructure in its present form will take quite some getting used to.

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The modern Bitcoin Core wallet, asbitcointalk usersolex as well as many Reddit users note in posts on the issue, is alsoavailable for display in bits, rather than as a fraction of a whole bitcoin.

As a bit is equal to 100 satoshis, whichare at any rate an infinitesimally small amount for anyone to use in dailylife, they could produce an interface which is more suited for the kinds ofpurchases most commonly made.

As solex notes, all balances displayed inbits would look one million times larger than the equivalent as a fraction of abitcoin. A cup of coffee for 0.007BTC would instead appear as 7000 bits.

While this still may seem unwieldy, it iscertainly better than spelling out decimal places or expressing smaller amountsusing satoshis.

But is this enough?  If a bitcoin were worth several thousanddollars, a moderately large purchase written in bits would still be ratheralien number on a till receipt, “a bitlike the Zimbabwe dollar” as one bitcointalk member wrote in response tothe idea.

“Decimalpoints may be the death of Bitcoin as far as widespread adoption is concerned,” writes Brad Nickel in an articlefor ClickBrain, “...Of course there areways around this, but we are just getting started with trying to get normalhumans to understand how Bitcoin works and why it’s better. I’m not sure we canget them past this very simple sounding, but very complex to others issue.”

It may well be that a pricing solution mustbe sought as a matter of urgency if the public is to consider Bitcoin as anattractive proposition.

The same is true of other currencies suchas Dogecoin, which today is hovering at around 2,190 to the dollar, which isalready a difficult concept for consumers.

But is the problem in fact temporary afterall? This could well be the gamble. For if BTC becomes hugely valuable over theyears, the humble satoshi could well find broad acceptance for everydaypurchases.

And, at the very least, the interveningyears could enhance the average shopper’s mental arithmetic.


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