“There are 3 eras of currency: Commodity based, politically based, and now, math based.” - Chris Dixon

The Bitcoin (BTC) currency has such a high value today that it needs to be broken down to conduct smaller transactions, and trading typically involves fractional amounts. Given the significant value of each individual coin, the average trade usually consists of a smaller denomination of Bitcoin per transaction (currently 1 BTC = $10,600). I’ve noted some of the more common denominations of Bitcoin below, with their respective values in satoshis and Bitcoin.



Value in satoshis

Value in bitcoin

Decimal points
















Sats or satoshis





Each unit described above is a fraction of a Bitcoin. Sometimes it is so small that it becomes a real challenge to read and trade numbers that have a lot of decimal points. This is where satoshis come in.

The key takeaway here is that 1 Bitcoin (BTC) = 100,000,000 satoshis (aka Sats). Named after Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, a satoshi is the smallest unit of measurement for Bitcoin. A few other coins considered base currencies on exchanges also follow the satoshi denomination.

So while an altcoin you want to buy might be worth $1 at the time, most exchanges will list it against BTC, giving it a price in Satoshis, equal to $1. In the next section I will explain how that price is calculated.

The Basic Calculation:

 (100,000,000 / current price of bitcoin ) = satoshi value of 1 USD

satoshi value of 1 USD * specific altcoin price in USD = satoshi value per coin

These two formulas can be combined and simplified per the equation below:

(100,000,000/current price of bitcoin) * specific altcoin in USD = satoshi price

Now, let’s define these terms and give them values to make these formulas easier to read.

Satoshi price = s

Current price of bitcoin  = B

Specific altcoin price in USD  = Z

Simple formula:  (100,000,000/B) x Z = s

Let’s use an example to illustrate (Images are from the Binance exchange)


Above, you will see that we are looking at WABI/BTC and BTC/USDT

Let’s use our formula above : (100,000,000/B) x Z = s

(100,000,000/8,808.57) x 1.58 = 17,937 satoshis

It’s that simple.

Tip: you can get a good approximation if your satoshi price multiplying the last price of WABI in the screenshot above by 100 million ( e.g. 0.00017946 x 100,000,000 = 17,946 satoshis. This is pretty close to the value we derived above)

When looking to track your gains and losses and overall performance trading cryptocurrencies, it’s really up to you what you consider most important as your base currency. USD equivalents are not offered on all exchanges and it’s hard to know how you are performing if you trade on multiple exchanges where some may not include a USD equivalent value.

USD equivalent based trading is also only useful if you are constantly moving your holdings after each cryptocurrency trade back to Tether (USDT), a cryptocurrency pegged and backed by the USD. If you are looking at the USD value of a coin on exchanges, it means there are 2 currency pairs you are exposed to:

1) the specific altcoin relative to bitcoin (e.g. WABI/BTC)

2) Bitcoin relative to Tether (USDT)  (e.g.BTC/USDT).

Until you trade your WABI for BTC and then your BTC for USDT, you are exposed to BTC. Most traders disregard USDT when sitting on the sidelines and usually hold BTC or ETH, so satoshi value is really more precise when the aim is to track portfolio performance.

For now, Bitcoin is the global leader in cryptocurrencies based on market cap, so it’s best if you track your trading in satoshi value to know when you are executing a profitable or unprofitable trade. If you think BTC is a long-term winner, then focus on valuing your trades in satoshis and forget about the BTC/USD price fluctuations.

From my discussions and experience, most advanced traders and blockchain enthusiasts care about accumulating Bitcoin/Ether via trading altcoins. Novice investors and traders, on the other hand, are more concerned about their purchasing power in USD. They don’t really care to understand or value their portfolio gains/losses in satoshis, which is big mistake. If you are serious about trading, take the time to learn how to read prices in satoshis.

I hope this helps clarify satoshi pricing and how to calculate satoshi and USD equivalents for your portfolio. Now go out there and trade like a winner!

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is to be construed as investment advice. Neither the author nor the publication takes any responsibility or liability for any investments, profits or losses you may incur as a result of this information.