Say Bitcoin goes to 1 a million dollars. We need more decimals, but btc core only supports 8 decimals? By that time its safe to assume everyone will be using lightning to do transactions, but will lightning have support for more than 8 decimals?

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    I think you should unaccept my answer, as it is wrong. Commented May 17, 2019 at 23:35

3 Answers 3


Lightning uses millisatoshis as the unit of account for all transactions and routing fees, but the sub-satoshi balances are not reflected on the bitcoin blockchain in the event of channel closure.

When a channel is closed, any sub-satoshi amount held by each party is dropped from the commitment/closing transaction and goes towards payment of the on-chain transaction fee which miners collect.

Amounts below a satoshi, or rather, below dust_limit_satoshis, are made cooperatively between the parties of a channel and are not enforcible on-chain, but if many of such transactions are made, they add up to whole satoshi amounts which will be enforcible in later commitments.


Generally lightning transfers the currency of the baselayer. In the case of Bitcoin the smallest unit of account is 1 Satosh. However the base unit on lightning is 1/1000 of 1 Satoshi. This means that smaller transfer of value than 1 Satoshi is possible. With this comes an issue: the base layer can't enforce sub Satoshi amounts. So while it is possible to make such payments and calculate with such amounts on lightning in the case of channel closing the amounts will be rounded and channel partners cannot rely on such amounts.

There are two solutions to have an enforcement of sub Satoshi amounts on chain. First one could do a Bitcoin fork that enables sub Satoshi amounts. Second there could be a sidechain line laid which peggs Bitcoin but internally supports a smaller denomination than Satoshi. The lightning network could also be extended to that base chain.

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    I think it would be useful to mention that currently when you make a transaction in sub-satoshi, you generally remove it out of your own balance in the commitment transaction rather than making it as an HTLC output. this is because the entire transaction would not be enforceable on the bitcoin network, in case you want to do a unilateral close, if you make a sub-satoshi output.
    – Ugam Kamat
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 17:34
  • Fully agree. Even sub dust htlcs are not created as outputs as I recently mentioned here. Well edit / improve my answer later Commented May 17, 2019 at 17:47


Lightning doesn't use its own token or currency, it only uses Bitcoin when on the Bitcoin blockchain. Lightning sends payments using the transaction format of the underlying blockchain. When running on Bitcoin, Lightning is actually exchanging native Bitcoin transactions—without the need to broadcast every transaction to the chain.

This suggests that Lightning transactions use the same units as Bitcoin, and that it is not possible to use Lightning (in its current form) to exchange amounts in denominations smaller than 1 satoshi.


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