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A satoshi is the smallest unit of a bitcoin, the crypto world’s flagship digital currency. At the time of writing, the value of one satoshi is extremely small. However, to longtime believers in bitcoin, this is good news. It is a confirmation of the importance and value of bitcoin on a global scale.

Given the development of the crypto sphere in recent years, satoshis as units of measure have become very useful. The minimum unit of measurement used when speaking of bitcoin is the satoshi. It is now much more frequent for a crypto user to own a small measure of one bitcoin, than to own multiple BTC.

In the following article, we will take a look at the history of bitcoin, what a satoshi is, and tell you just why you should care about the smallest unit of the world’s most prized cryptocurrency.

The history of BTC


Bitcoin’s smallest unit of measurement was named after Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin. The BTC whitepaper described how Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, could solve the double-spending problem in digital assets systems.

While bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to become truly established, previous attempts existed of creating online currencies using encrypted ledgers. B-Money and Bit Gold are two examples. The creation of these currencies was revolutionary. However, they were never fully developed. There are some who believe that Satoshi Nakamoto may have had some kind of connection with the previously mentioned projects.

The first person who decided to sell his bitcoin did so in 2010. He opted to swap 10,000 BTC for two pizzas. At today’s evaluation, those bitcoins would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars if the buyer had kept them. The popularity of the cryptocurrency increased. The idea of decentralized and encrypted currencies became more popular. Alternative cryptocurrencies began appearing.

Satoshi, a crypto necessity

Bitcoin’s price fluctuated over the years. Similarly, the public’s appetite for blockchain technology has varied over the years.

By 2017, however, BTC had reached $10,000. It would be worth more in the following years. Moreover, recently, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have well and truly entered the mainstream lexicon. Blockchain technology has helped develop a myriad of applications. Bitcoin remains the most popular and well-known cryptocurrency.

A physical coin or bill can only be used for one transaction. A physical currency can only be exchanged for goods or services by a single person at a time. Through the transaction, one person comes into the possession of a good and the seller loses it. Double spending would mean spending the same amount twice, on two separate transactions. The peer-to-peer ledger solved this issue. This, along with the consensus mechanism, makes it so that the owner of the cryptocurrency is not allowed to spend the same amount multiple times.

What is a satoshi?

Just how small, or how important, is a satoshi? And what is a satoshi anyway?

Simply put, one bitcoin contains 100 million satoshi. That is equal to 0.00000001 BTC. The satoshi does not represent the only sub-division of bitcoin. Another term used is that of a millibitcoin. This is worth one-thousandth bitcoin or 0.001 BTC. A one-millionth of bitcoin is a microbitcoin or 0.000001 Bitcoin. It is possible to transact on the Lightning Network using even smaller units than the satoshi.

Although not part of any major currency pair, bitcoins or satoshis may be converted to and from different currencies. You can convert fiat to cryptocurrencies using various cryptocurrency exchanges.

Transactions, traditionally, involve depositing fiat, such as dollars or pounds, into one of the exchange accounts. You can convert the money to Bitcoin or satoshis and use them at various merchant places that accept them. 

The block rewards for mining bitcoin, or 100 million satoshi, have been halved approximately every four years. This means that the tokens being created every ten minute will eventually be counted as satoshis, rather than bitcoin. Because satoshis are available, the minting of new bitcoins will have to cease sometime in the future. It is impossible to continue to mint new quantities of bitcoin in ever-smaller amounts.

History and the background of the term

The term “sat” is more commonly used in today’s cryptocurrency and blockchain conversations. HoneyMiner, a bitcoin mining software, pays the mining reward in SAT. There are also SAT-related hashtags on social media, and Lightning Torch, the Lightning network payment, is accounted for in satoshi.

The satoshi was introduced to the crypto and blockchain industry vocabulary in 2011. Still, it took longer for it to become a buzzword. The term is often referred to in articles and crypto podcasts.

The origin of the term may reference the inventor of bitcoin. However, the suggestion to introduce this term comes Nov. 15, 2010. On this day, a BitcoinTalk user, going by the name Ribuck, proposed that 1/100 Bitcoin (0.01 BTC), be called a satoshi. This was the smallest value that could be shown on the interface at the time.

The user made the proposal but, initially, no other Bitcoi nTalk users endorsed it. The idea was abandoned, and no action was taken about the suggestion until Feb. 10, 2011. Ribuck made the same comment about the unit of account denominations. This time, the user received positive feedback in a new thread. With bitcoin users seeing the benefits of considering smaller monetary units, the sat was introduced.

Using satoshi

Much of the appeal of the satoshi is due to the increase in value of bitcoin in recent years. This can be seen similarly to when a highly valued company stock is split. This is done with the view of making individual shares more valuable.

There is also a psychological consideration. Putting the popularity of bitcoin aside, new users may feel inclined to buy a high number of units of an altcoin, rather than the less attractive denomination of, say 0.001 BTC. The sat fixes this potential problem by providing a user-friendly name along with the transactions. 

Many people would prefer not to work with decimals and fractions of this can be avoided. It could result in merchants having unattractive price tags, which can confuse customers at the check-out. Let’s remember that investing in cryptocurrencies is attracting new customers every day. 

Sat may not be around forever because of the following reasons. Satoshi is a convenient way to price goods or services in BTC. This makes it less confusing and unattractive to consumers. Price bias may have contributed to the slow growth of sat. However, those involved in the crypto industry have found more and more opportunities to reference sat. Considering all of these aspects, it’s difficult not to see this bitcoin denomination continuing to gain ground in the years to follow.

How much is a satoshi?

Fiat currencies like the dollar (USD), euro (EUR), and pound (GBP) all have specific denominations for hundreds of units. Bitcoin works in a similar manner. The coin is divisible into smaller units. This allows for its use in a realistic environment. The constant price fluctuations of bitcoin can make it very expensive. Without sufficient divisibility, it would be almost impossible to buy or sell on a large scale.

One satoshi corresponds to a decimal, seven zeros, and 1. It also includes the BTC ticker. Or, it includes the ticker for forks of it such as Bitcoin SV (BSV) or Bitcoin Cash (BCH). This is 0.00000001 or 1.0.0 * 10–8 in scientific notation.

New crypto investors may find it prohibitive to invest in buying multiple bitcoin units due to their high price. Although the cryptocurrency can be purchased fractionally, many people find it difficult to accept the high listing price. A big portion of the crypto community request that bitcoin be listed in satoshis. This makes the offer more accessible and attractive.

Bitcoin is not the only coin that includes fractional units. The cryptocurrency of ethereum has wei. It honors Wei Dai, an early cryptocurrency developer.

Did you know?

One ether, in this case, equals 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 wei.

Can you buy a fraction of a bitcoin?

Bitcoin BTC BTCD bitcoin dominance

You don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin to actually own a bitcoin. What you can do instead is buy a fraction of a bitcoin. You can own as little as 0.00000001 BTC or 1 satoshi. For many, this is a great entry point into earning cryptocurrency. Realistically, considering transaction and exchange fees, as well as the deposit limits on various exchanges, you may need to pay around a minimum of $20 to own a small fraction of bitcoin.

So, can you buy a fraction of a bitcoin? A satoshi was set as one microbitcent, or one hundred millionth of bitcoin. For investors, buying an entire bitcoin is not always possible or desirable. By purchasing a number of satoshi instead, it is possible to invest in bitcoin on any scale.

Investing in satoshi is investing in bitcoin. Even though the two are technically the same currency, it can be worthwhile thinking in terms of the smaller denomination.

Although Bitcoin has its own symbol (฿), the satoshi has not earned its own symbol just yet.

Satoshi vs. Gwei

Gwei refers to the ethereum gas fee unit, while a satoshi represents the smallest unit for bitcoin. Both terms are often used within the world of cryptocurrency.

Most cryptocurrencies can be divided down to eight decimal places. This is different from fiat currency. These new denominational structures help to ensure that cryptocurrencies such as BTC or ETH have the same utility regardless of the value of the trade. In other words, buying BTC worth millions of dollars or buying groceries using crypto use the same process. Some of the most popular cryptocurrency denominations also have their own names. It’s not different from how dollars can be divided into cents.

As previously mentioned, a Wei is the smallest unit of ETH. One ETH is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Wei. Wei, however, is not currently the most commonly used term when it comes to transactions. Gwei, which is one million Wei, has been turned into the default denomination. Instead of saying that the gas fee costs 0.000000001 Ethereum, many would instead say that it costs 1 gwei. To simplify understanding of Ethereum transactions, many experienced users convert wei to gwei.

Other altcoins use similar denominations. These refer to the smallest unit of these.

  • The smallest unit of stellar lumens, 0.0000001 XLM (7 decimal points), is called a stroop.
  • The smallest unit in ADA is known as lovelace, a reference to Ada King, a pioneering computer programmer.
  • BNB can be divided into subunits, with the smallest unit being a jager. This is the Internet alias that the coin’s community manager uses to refer to. It’s a reference to the internet alias used by the coin’s community Manager.

The satoshi could be the denomination of the future

The satoshi is the smallest denomination of bitcoin, and this is important for a number of reasons. Unlike its earliest days in existence, one bitcoin is worth a lot of money. The cryptocurrency attracts interest from new users every day. The trend is unlikely to change. Most new users will not be able to buy whole units of bitcoin. Using Satoshi as a smaller denomination makes understanding transactions easier. 

There’s also a small matter of honoring the inventor, or group, behind bitcoin. Years on from the fact, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that blockchain-based cryptocurrency proved revolutionary. The story of Satoshi Nakamoto continues to fascinate the public. Yes, details about the person, or the team behind the moniker, are scarce. This, in turn, drives interest in the widespread use of cryptocurrencies. 

Finally, the use of the satoshi is an embrace of the future. With bitcoin being a finite resource, and its value increases, it’s time to consider its evaluation over time. Smaller and smaller values of Bitcoin will gain practical use. For this reason, the smallest amount of bitcoin needs a name, one with that cryptocurrency users are likely to often encounter in the years to come. Now that you know what a satoshi is, you might even consider getting some yourself. 

Frequently asked questions

How many dollars is 1 satoshi?

Are satoshis the same as bitcoin?

How many dollars is 100 Satoshi?

How much is 10000 satoshi worth?

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Eduard Banulescu
Eduard Banulescu is a writer and musician originally from Bucharest, Romania who is currently active on a number of various projects. Eduard's been working in an official position in the crypto-world since 2017 when he joined the team of blockchain-based game Currently, he is Brand Manager of FootbalCoin.