Just like one dollar can be broken down into cents, a Bitcoin can be broken down into smaller units as well. The smallest unit of Bitcoin is called a Satoshi, and there are 100 million Satoshis in a Bitcoin. Often, Bitcoin users refer to a Satoshi as a “sat”.
The smallest unit of Bitcoin is called a Satoshi as a homage to the anonymous inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin Satoshis explained
The maximum amount of Bitcoin that can exist is 21 million. However, since each Bitcoin consists of 100 million Satoshis, Bitcoin can theoretically have a total of 2.1 quadrillion (2,100,000,000,000,000) units. So, even if 1 BTC becomes even more valuable in the future, the average person will still be able to use Bitcoin normally since the number of available units is huge.
Sometimes, denominating prices of goods and services in Satoshis instead of BTC is more convenient. For example, let’s say that you are trying to buy a coffee that costs $4. At current exchange rates, this translates to 0.0001410 BTC, which is an awkward number to use in everyday situations. If we expressed the price with Satoshis, it would be 14,100 Satoshis, which is definitely a more human-friendly number.
On CoinCodex, we provide a dollar to sats converter that allows you to quickly convert prices denominated in dollars (or any other currency) to Satoshis.
Satoshis are also often used by Bitcoin wallets to calculate and display Bitcoin transaction fees. Many wallets display transaction fees in terms of satoshis per virtual byte, usually expressed as sats/vByte.
Other popular Bitcoin denominations
As we saw with our example of paying for a coffee with Bitcoin, using smaller denominations of Bitcoin to refer to prices can come in handy.
Bitcoin is very valuable, which can make it awkward to express prices of low-value items in terms of BTC. On the other hand, one Satoshi is not worth very much (it’s only worth about $0.000283 at the time of writing), so it can still be awkward to express the prices of certain items with it.
A nice middle ground between the Satoshi and Bitcoin is the milliBitcoin, or mBTC. 1 mBTC equals one thousandth of a Bitcoin. Various online services that accept Bitcoin express their prices in mBTC, as it tends to result in numbers that are relatively easy for humans to track.
Here are the denominations of Bitcoin that you might see when buying goods and services with BTC:centiBitcoin (cBTC): 0.01 BTC milliBitcoin (mBTC): 0.001 BTC microBitcoin (uBTC): 0.000001 BTC Satoshi: 0.00000001 BTC
Of these, the Satoshi and milliBitcoin are the most popular by far.
The bottom line
Since the price of Bitcoin has grown significantly since it was initially released in 2009, it’s becoming increasingly awkward to refer to prices of real-world goods and services in terms of BTC. This is why expressing prices in terms of Satoshis, the smallest possible unit of Bitcoin, is becoming more and more common.
Some people who aren’t very familiar with cryptocurrency have the misconception that they can’t afford to buy Bitcoin because it’s “too expensive”.
Since 1 BTC actually consists of a large number of smaller units, this means that you don’t need to buy a whole Bitcoin if you want to invest in Bitcoin. In fact, many cryptocurrency exchanges allow you to invest as little as you want. If BTC continues to perform well, even a $100 investment in Bitcoin could become a significant chunk of change in the future.
How many Satoshis are there in a Bitcoin?
One Bitcoin (BTC) consists of 100 million Satoshis. A Satoshi can also be expressed as 0.00000001 BTC. The Satoshi is the smallest unit of Bitcoin and it is named after the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.