What is a Keiki, and what role does it play in the Orchid network?Jan 12, 2021
Since Orchid launched just over a year ago, the network has made enormous strides. It has gotten faster, easier to use, and has added numerous partners and collaborations. Amidst all this progress, it's worth revisiting some of the basic aspects of Orchid's design. One of these is the keiki, the smallest unit into which Orchid's digital asset, OXT, is divisible.
OXT drives activity on Orchid. Providers stake it in order to advertise their services, and they in turn can be paid by customers in the currency. Even when users buy a pre-filled account using an ordinary credit card, OXT is what's driving the network.
What many may not realize is that, like all ERC-20 assets, OXT comprises large numbers of very small, fundamental units of divisibility. Just as a US dollar contains 100 pennies, 1 OXT contains 10^18 (a billion-billion) keikis. In fact, a keiki is the only technically defined unit of currency on the platform. But since it would be cumbersome to constantly talk in terms of billions of billions, we effectively use OXT as a convenient term for a large fixed amount of keikis.
When we started building Orchid, we considered using scientific notation and prefixes (e.g., "giga", "exa") to refer to these basic units, but the convention in the crypto space has been to give them specific names. For instance, the fundamental unit of Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. Similarly, the fundamental unit of ETH is called the "wei," named after Wei Dai, one of the forefathers of the Bitcoin world.
When our technical team first started working on the code for the Orchid app, they initially also referred to units of OXT as "wei" -- both socially and in code comments -- by default. But since users handle both ETH and OXT in working with Orchid, a unique name was needed to avoid ambiguity.
To solve this issue, the team dove into a wide-ranging and fascinating conversation about what to call OXT's basic units. Eventually, someone hit upon "keiki," a Hawaiian word meaning "child." In botany, keiki is also the term for an orchid sprout. The name was perfect: a technical term that maintains Orchid's floral motifs, and whose resonance was similar to ETH's "wei." The choice was obvious.
Orchid is designed to let people use the Internet in privacy with as seamless a user experience as possible. For many, OXT operates fully "under the hood," with no need to ever install a web 3 browser or pay gas fees. But behind the scenes, Orchid's digital asset -- comprising all those billions of keikis -- is what allows the network to operate so effectively.
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