Legitimizing Bitcoin as a Currency and Store of Value: Using Discrete Monetary Units to Consolidate Value and Drive Market Growth


  • Chad Albrecht Utah State University
  • Steven Hawkins Southern Utah University
  • Kristopher McKay Duffin Utah State University




Cryptocurrency, Fractional Discrete Units, Bitcoin, Whole Number Bias, Distance Effect, Monetary Units, Satoshis, Bits


Cryptocurrency, and especially Bitcoin, has struggled to gain recognition as a legitimate currency from governments, financial institutions, and consumers. This has occurred because many analysts and consumers believe that Bitcoin is not a stable and consistent store of value, a unit of measurement, or a medium of exchange. One way to overcome this challenge is for Bitcoin to be used as both a currency and store of value by a greater percentage of the world’s population. This paper seeks to identify how a change in Bitcoin’s monetary measurement (or denomination) can more easily facilitate Bitcoin transactions to increase its use. Specifically, we posit that applying whole number bias theory, from the cognitive psychology and mathematics fields, to Bitcoin’s unit of measurement will allow the value of Bitcoin to be referenced in smaller and easier to
understand units with fewer numbers after the decimal point—such as the “Bit” or the “Satoshi.” In the process, the use of Bitcoin will include more whole numbers and allow the general public to more easily assign value to Bitcoin in day-to-day transactions.


Author Biographies

Chad Albrecht, Utah State University

Chad Albrecht is an Associate Professor of Strategy & the Director of MBA Programs at Utah State University.  

Steven Hawkins, Southern Utah University

Steven Hawkins is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business at Southern Utah University

Kristopher McKay Duffin, Utah State University

Kristopher McKay Duffin is a Research Associate with the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University


Baur, D., Hong, K. “Bitcoin: Medium of Exchange or Speculative Assets?” Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions, and Money 54 177-189 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intfin.2017.12.004.

Cheah, E., Fry, J. “Speculative bubbles in Bitcoin markets? An empirical investigation into the fundamental value of Bitcoin.” Economics Letters 130 32-36 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2015.02.029.

DeWolf, M., Bassok, M. “From Rational Numbers to Algebra: Separable Contributions of Decimal Magnitude and Relational Understanding of Fractions.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 133 72-84 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.01.013.

DeWolf, M., Vosniadou, S. “The Representation of Fraction Magnitudes and the Whole Number Bias Reconsidered.” Learning and Instruction 37 39-49 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2014.07.002.

Fields, B. “Securities and Exchange Commission (Release No. 34-83723; File No. SR-BatsBZX 2016-30).” Securities and Exchange Commission (2018) https://www.sec.gov/rules/other/2018/34-83723.pdf.

Gandal, N., Hamrick, J. T., Moore, T., Oberman, T. “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem.” Journal of Monetary Economics 95 86-96 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmoneco.2017.12.004.

Glaser, F., Zimmermann, K., Haferkorn, M., Weber, M. C., Siering, M. “Bitcoin - Asset or Currency? Revealing Users' Hidden Intentions.” Twenty Second European Conference on Information Systems (2014). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2425247.

Gutoski, G., Stebila, D. “Hierarchical Deterministic Bitcoin Wallets that Tolerate Key Leakage.” In Böhme, R., Okamoto, T. (Eds.) Financial Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2015. 497-504 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-47854-7_31.

Kubat, M. “Virtual Currency Bitcoin in the Scope of Money Definition and Store of Value.” Procedia Economics and Finance 30 409-416 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1016/S2212 5671(15)01308-8.

Lai, M., Wong, J. “Revisiting Decimal Misconceptions from a New Perspective: The Significance of Whole Number Bias in the Chinese Culture.” The Journal of Mathematical Behavior 47 96-108 (2017) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2017.07.00.

Li, X., Wang, C. “The Technology and Economic Determinants of Cryptocurrency Exchange Rates: The Case of Bitcoin.” Decision Support Systems 95 49-60 (2017) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss .2016.12.001.

Luther, J. “Bitcoin and the Future of Digital Payments.” The Independent Review 20 397-404 (2016) http://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_20_03_12_luther.pdf.

Madise, S. “Back to the Future: Evolving Forms of Money.” SSRN (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2622080.

Miller, K., Major, S. M., Shu, H., Zhang, H. “Original Knowledge: Number Names and Number Concepts in Chinese and English.” Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. 54.2 129-139 (2000) https://doi.org /10.1037/h0087335.

Moore, E., Christin, N. “Beware the Middleman: Empirical Analysis of Bitcoin-Exchange Risk.” In Sadeghi, A. R. (Ed.) Financial Cryptography and Data Security FD 2013. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer 25-33 (2013) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-39884-1_3.

Nakamoto, S. “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” (2008) (accessed 30 January 2020) https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.

Ni, Y., Zhou, Y. “Teaching and Learning Fraction and Rational Numbers: The Origins and Implications of Whole Number Bias.” Educational Psychologist 40 (2005) https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4001_3.

No Author. “Top 100 Cryptocurrencies by Market Capitalization.” CoinMarketCap (accessed 10 February 2019) https://coinmarketcap.com/.

Obersteiner, A., Van Dooren, W., Van Hoof, J., Verschaffel, L. “The Natural Number Bias and Magnitude Representation in Fraction Comparison by Expert Mathematicians.” Learning and Instruction 28 64-72 (2013) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2013.05.003.

Roell, M., Viarouge, A., Houdé, O., Borst, H. “Inhibition of the Whole Number Bias in Decimal Number Comparison: A Developmental Negative Priming Study.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 77 240-24 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2018.08.010.

Sedgwick, K. “It’s Time to Change the Way We Measure Bitcoin.” Bitcoin.com (accessed 16 December 2018) https://news.bitcoin.com/its-time-to-change-the-way-we-measure-bitcoin/.

u/armysatoru “r/Bitcoin: Isn't It About Time We Standardized mBTC as the Official Unit of Bitcoin?” Reddit. (accessed 12 February 2019) https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/7a1psj/isnt_it_about_time_we_standardized_mbtc_as_the/.

u/brcreeker “r/Bitcoin: A Case for the Microbitcoin (uBTC) Satobitcoin (sBTC)” Reddit. (accessed 12 February 2019) https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1rg2vw/a_case_for_the _microbitcoin_ubtc_satobitcoin_sbtc/.

Vamvakoussi, X. “Naturally Biased? In Search for Reaction Time Evidence for a Natural Number Bias in Adults.” The Journal of Mathematical Behavior 31.3 344-355 (2012) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2012.02.001.

Vasek, M., Thornton, M., Moore, T. “Empirical Analysis of Denial-of-Service Attacks in the Bitcoin Ecosystem.” In Böhme, R., Brenner, M., Moore, T., Smith, M. (Eds.) Financial Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2014. 57-71 (2014) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44774-1_5.


Additional Files



How to Cite

Albrecht, C., Hawkins, S., & Duffin, K. M. (2020). Legitimizing Bitcoin as a Currency and Store of Value: Using Discrete Monetary Units to Consolidate Value and Drive Market Growth. Ledger, 5. https://doi.org/10.5195/ledger.2020.167



Research Articles