Bitcoin Denominations

Jimmy Song has authored BIP176 - Bits Denomination which was recently added to the BIPs repo. To put this in context, bitcointalk user ribuck first suggested the term satoshi in 2010, originally intending the unit to signify 0.01 BTC. As he recalls:

At the time, 0.01 BTC was the smallest unit that could be displayed by the user interface in the standard client, even though the protocol supported eight decimal places.

After some discussion it was later proposed in 2011 and agreed to name the smallest base unit (0.0000001 BTC) a satoshi. While he probably didn’t coin the term, in 2011 jon_smark made the comment:

Besides, if the value of the unitary BTC continues to climb in such a manner that smaller and smaller amounts become more practical, then the only thing that should be changed is the way values are exposed in the user interface: instead of showing amounts in BTC, the GUI could switch to mBTC (milliBTC). Perhaps there may even come a time when talking in μBTC (microBTC) will become useful…

One could say that day has arrived with the addition of BIP176 - Bits Denomination.

The term bits has been around the Bitcoin ecosystem for some time and BIP176 only serves to formalize the name. While no one knows for sure how the term bits became associated with Bitcoin, it does roll off the tongue easier than saying micro-bitcoin. Utilizing the term bits means that only two decimal places are needed to describe any current UTXO. BIP176 does not impact existing terms such as the milli-bitcoin (mBTC), and the term micro-bitcoin (μBTC) can continue to exist in tandem.

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