What is Wei?

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Just as a fiat currency like the U.S dollar has a penny as its smallest unit, most digital currencies have smaller denominations of their currency as well. Wei is the smallest denomination of ether—the cryptocurrency used in the Ethereum network. One either is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 wei (1018).

A wei is to ether as a satoshi is to bitcoin and as jager is to BNB—these units are the smallest unit for a user to make a transaction. Small units of transactions were named to properly signify the quantity of a transaction that may amount to small fraction of ether but of high value when converted to the U.S dollar or other fiat currencies.

The term Wei was named after Wei Dai, a cryptography activist who was popular for facilitating the broad use of strong cryptography and privacy-oriented technologies.

Ether has many names for different units of wei. The names of these subunits reflect the quantity of the units (for example, a kwei is a thousand wei). The subunits have informal names as well. For example, the kwei is also known as a “babbage” and a gwei is also known as a”shannon.”

The term Wei was named after Wei Dai, a cryptography activist who was popular for facilitating the broad use of strong cryptography and privacy-oriented technologies.

Who is Wei Dai?

Wei Dai graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Computer Science and worked at Microsoft in the cryptography research group. During his time at Microsoft, he was involved in the study, design and implementation of cryptosystems for specialized applications. Before joining Microsoft, he worked as a programmer with TerraSciences of Acton, Massachusetts.

Wei Dai was part of the cypherpunk movement in the 1990s whose members eventually developed the theoretical basis for cryptocurrency in the 2010s. Wei laid the foundation for “smart contracts” that would self-execute and not need intervention by a human third party for enforcement. Due to this remarkable innovation, the atomic unit of ether was named after him.

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