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The Satcomma Normal: You Ought to Look At Bitcoin Like This


The satcomma commonplace permits customers to see each bitcoin and sats in a single straightforward look.

A Entire Quantity Notation Scheme For Sub-Decimal Quantities In Bitcoin

No matter what pockets software program we use, the bitcoin notation commonplace, i.e., how the numerals seem in your steadiness, is the first UX element of our relationship with bitcoin. The punctuation of cash, durations and commas, and the place they seem in sequence, present us with crucial info concerning our private wealth and the price of items. The notation commonplace is the drawbridge we should cross each time we work together with cash.

On this article I suggest a brand new notation commonplace for bitcoin which makes use of commas on the fitting aspect of the decimal level, with comma separators on the anticipated intervals for complete numbers, i.e., each three numerals counting from proper to left. Whereas this can be a distinct break from customary notation, it immediately conveys the conversion price between bitcoin and sats, and that is its sole utility.

.03445674 BTC

could be


A Shift Towards Sats

A confluence of things are resulting in increasingly vocal help for denominating bitcoin totally in sats. As sub-decimal quantities of bitcoin change into increasingly prevalent within the broader economic system, consciousness of the satoshi unit is rising. On Lightning, for instance, the place complete BTC quantities aren’t but utilized in manufacturing, denominating in sats is a should.

Regardless of the pattern in the direction of sats, complete quantity bitcoin denominations are nonetheless part of life. The notation format outlined above unites bitcoin and sats in a single visible illustration.

What Drawback Does This Clear up?

When you work together with fractional bitcoin quantities lengthy sufficient, the fundamentals will change into second nature. It took me in all probability two years earlier than the concept that 0.5 bitcoin was equal to 50 million sats grew to become intuitive. However there’s a psychological barrier to creating this conversion shortly. The problem lies in the truth that whereas sats are universally counted in hundreds of thousands, the phrase “million” itself is a selected place measurement to the LEFT of the decimal.

0.5 BTC = 50,000,000 sats.

Fifty million is a complete integer quantity, not a fractional quantity. What we should come to grips with is that quantities expressed in sats indicate a trailing decimal. The simplest method, then, to orient the consumer in notational area is to supply a comma separator each three numerals ranging from the fitting, per “million” in conventional notation.

It’s only as a result of Satoshi himself selected so as to add eight zeros to bitcoin and never 9, that we wrestle, subconsciously maybe, with this conundrum of the third comma in satoshis. Had bitcoin been created with 9 zeros, then the third comma could be in its correct place, whether or not you’re studying from the fitting or from the left…


However since 1 bitcoin = 100,000,000 sats and never 1,000,000,000 sats, we’re left with an ungainly notational consequence, which is that with a purpose to really suppose in sats, we should insert a psychological punctuation mark (a interval) the place it belongs: on the transition from 90 million to 100 million.

This situation doesn’t exist in conventional finance as a result of sub-cent values, which exist solely in accounting, are all the time rounded as much as the closest tenth. In fiat phrases, one-thousandth of a greenback doesn’t exist. However bitcoin makes lengthy strings of sub-decimal values needed for the primary time in financial historical past.

Due to the third comma conundrum and the brand new crucial to precise eightdigit, sub-decimal strings, a brand new notational commonplace could also be useful. The scheme proposed above supplies on the spot orientation and solves each issues.

Take a fast look on the following numbers and narrate the sats conversion in your thoughts as you learn. You will discover it straightforward.





This notation commonplace is most useful when making psychological conversions between BTC and sats for quantities lower than one million sats.

Say that you just encounter the next quantity:


As a way to convert this to sats, the present notation commonplace leaves customers with two choices; both commit a conversion desk to reminiscence, or prolong the zeros to the fitting when going from BTC to sats. The result’s:


The issue with this train is that people are usually not good at auditing quantities simply by gazing an image. After including the zeros above, one should do at the very least one go of error correction, double checking that the right variety of zeros have been added. It’s a sluggish course of.

Right here’s one other instance:

698,000 sats.

As a way to convert this to BTC we should do the identical train above, however in reverse, extending the zeroes to the left after which including a decimal. The result’s:


Whereas each of those conversions are mechanical and easy, they’re cumbersome and have to be accomplished with painstaking accuracy. Being off by one zero is an costly mistake.

The purpose then is to create a notation commonplace which immediately accomplishes this conversion with a universally understood visible language, with built-in worth signifiers to supply error correction on the first go, and which permit the consumer to make worth assessments with out slowing right down to rely, then re-count, particular person zeros.

Optimistic Suggestions

The proposal has garnered a variety of dialogue on Twitter.

Essentially the most stunning revelation was that I used to be not the primary individual to consider it.

Mark Nugent lately revealed this wonderful essay. He and I’ve independently come to the identical conclusions. His proposal is to make use of an apostrophe as a substitute of a comma, which I additionally discover interesting.

One other factor that shocked me was the overwhelming variety of optimistic responses.

@BitSimple claims they’re going to implement this of their app.

Carlo Campisi from Shakepay additionally tweeted that they’re now wanting into it.


Response to the idea was not 100% optimistic.

Matt Senter from the BTC rewards plugin Lolli stated “😬No thanks. However I’ll replace the e-mail to make use of § notation.”

Amongst those that don’t like the thought, some frequent critiques emerged.

1 – Different grouping schemes

My argument in opposition to all the above alternate format ideas is that they do not mirror from the normal format of enormous numbers. Take into account this has nothing to do with fiat pricing. It is solely about correct conversion between models. Once I see 10,000,000 I do know immediately that it means ten million. The commas, their placement, and the quantities they signify are all deeply embedded.

2 – Futureproofing

He is referring to the day when 1BTC=$1,000,000, and subsequently one sat will equal $.01, or one penny. My response is threefold. The primary is that any notation change would not be applied on the protocol stage, however reasonably on the pockets stage. It is a show parameter. If, at some future level, Bitcoin Core added digits to the fitting of the decimal, then pockets shows might simply be up to date to mirror the ninth, tenth, eleventh zero…advert infinitum. The second a part of my response is {that a} penny, in actual buying energy, is nearly a non-existent denomination as issues stand at this time. In a world the place 1 BTC is price $1 million, I do not know if items will nonetheless be priced in pennies in any respect, so I am undecided that including a unit even smaller than that’s needed. Lastly, this may not really change into a problem till 1 BTC is price $10 million. Per my above logic, we are able to simply revisit this query then.

He’s appropriate. Normally you might have to jot down out all the quantity. Nonetheless most bitcoin transactions use all eight decimals anyway. Additionally, with this scheme, the extra we see bitcoin quantities written out to the final decimal place, the extra we reinforce the conversion to satoshis.

Exactly. For sats solely quantities, which is able to change into increasingly frequent within the economic system (particularly on Lightning) this notation turns into increasingly helpful.

3 – “Simply use sats!”

This was far and away the most typical critique.

I believe that sats can and will likely be a prevalent commonplace. This eventuality, nevertheless, solely amplifies the necessity to assist individuals in conversion to bitcoin. The extra issues are priced completely in sats, the extra vital it’s that individuals internalize this ratio. However irrespective of how frequent sats are, complete quantity bitcoin quantities will live on, and complete quantity bitcoin quantities will nonetheless be ubiquitous.

“Furthermore, functions like exchanges and blockchain explorers will in all probability all the time use BTC as their bitcoin unit of selection as a result of they should checklist massive and small quantities collectively in a typical format. Think about this display seize of a listing of unconfirmed transactions…” — Mark Nugent

In closing, I might like to show briefly to the query of unit bias, and the way this notation, in a roundabout method, helps to ameliorate the issue.

Postscript: The Decimal Does Not Equate To Smallness

Bias in opposition to numbers to the fitting of the decimal, the notion that they signify insignificant sums, is wholly applicable to an inflationary system, the place all values get repeatedly smaller in actual phrases. Bitcoin obviates this mode of considering perpetually. For many people, it is going to change into each day follow to measure substantial wealth with a number one interval. The satcomma commonplace (thanks for the identify @ZoltanTokoli), primarily recreates complete numbers to the fitting of the decimal. Used within the context of cash, this format retrains the thoughts to understand the decimal place as a doorway to massive sums.

This can be a visitor submit by ProgrammableTx. Opinions expressed are totally their very own and don’t essentially mirror these of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Journal.