How many times have you heard it? — “I’d like to get into Bitcoin, but they’re too expensive now”. If you want to spread the word on bitcoin usage, you need to emphasize this one key point: you don’t have to buy a whole bitcoin, you can jump into BTC for almost any amount of money you like.
The bitcoin price, which is sitting around $16,800 at press time, seems to be heading up again after a big slump that started around Christmas time. That dump from almost $20K to under $13K took a lot of fickle newbie interest with it. But with the trend line pointing upward once more — and a general newcomer tendency to wait and buy high — expect your friends to start asking again how to get into bitcoin.
And almost inevitably, many will say “a bitcoin is worth tens of thousands now, what can I get for a hundred bucks?”
Only 21 million bitcoins will ever exist — and research shows as many as 4 million of them are lost or locked away for good. Obviously, that doesn’t leave enough for everyone in the world to have a whole bitcoin. In fact, if you do, you’re part of a very elite group.
Many, like celebrity investors Ronnie Moas and Michael Novogratz, believe this scarcity will drive bitcoin’s value to lunar heights in the future. The world will “fight over those 21 million coins”, said Moas last July.
Here’s what every newcomer needs to know, and what every current bitcoin owner needs to remember: every bitcoin is divisible into 100 million units. Informally known as “satoshis”, these units mean there are actually 21 million x 100 million, or a total 2,100,000,000,000,000 (2.1 quadrillion) “pieces of bitcoin”. More than enough for everyone in the world to have a few hundred thousand, and even use them as money.
For comparison, take the U.S. dollar, the world’s reserve and most widely-used currency. Unlike bitcoin it’s hard to calculate exactly how many dollars exist, but one estimate put it at around 10.5 trillion in 2013 — of which 1.2 trillion were physical.
Now, bitcoin’s current high-fee problem and exchange limitations mean you can’t buy just one satoshi, or even a few. But in theory it’s possible — and you can definitely own and hold as little as that, if you have it.
If you’re looking for a long-shot investment, you can realistically put a relatively small amount of your savings into BTC and hope for the best. Even a $50 investment into BTC, paid in cash and taking into account a $10-20 fee, could still pay off someday.
Still, for a newcomer to bitcoin, investing $2,000 (or euro, or yen) and seeing only 0.12 BTC appear in the wallet is discouraging. Psychologically, it just doesn’t feel like much. Some are opting instead for alternatives like Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, and others. But even they’re getting expensive these days.
Several plans and proposals aim to address this. Some wallet software has attempted to instill “bits” into users’ hearts and minds. One “bit” is a millionth of a bitcoin, leaving two decimal places for satoshis, and letting you write a bitcoin price in a familiar format, eg: 4.65 bits. Assume a “bit” is the same as a dollar and that also implies 1 BTC is worth a million bucks — making anyone who owns a whole one a millionaire.
So that’s 21,000,000,000,000.00 bits, or b21 trillion — still roughly double the number of U.S. dollars.
Developer Jimmy Song has proposed BIP176 to formalize the term “bits”, and it appears to have enough support now to become a reality. Expect to see the term a lot more from now on.
It’s been a few years since I complained it was still too hard to get your first bitcoin. Although there are a lot more services now, many newcomers still balk at the identification procedures, geographic limitations and bank transfers necessary to exchange fiat for BTC.
And to be honest, it’s not worth going through all that hassle if all you want is $100 worth of bitcoin or less.
So… make it easier. If you’re a bitcoiner with a healthy stash of your own, make it part of your outreach to sell small amounts for cash, and remind the “bit-curious” that any amount is quite OK. And of course, you can do the same for ETH, DASH, LTC, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, or anything.
It makes the whole onboarding procedure less intimidating, and shows how easy trading cryptocurrencies really should be.
Do you know anyone who still thinks you need to have a whole bitcoin? Tell us about it in the comments.
Images via Pixabay