By far the most commonly used symbol for Bitcoin is (webfont version: ₿), a capital letter B with two vertical lines "going through" the B, though the lines are only visible at the top and bottom. This symbol was created by Satoshi Nakamoto for the icon of an early version of the original Bitcoin client, though the very first versions of the Bitcoin client used "BC" instead of any special symbol. Presumably the symbol was intended to look similar to other currency symbols. The symbol represents the currency unit "bitcoin" (100 million satoshi), as well as the Bitcoin network and currency itself. The bitcoin currency unit is also commonly given the informal currency code BTC.
The ISO 4217 currency code for Bitcoin is XBT. However, at the moment it is an unofficial code according to the ISO 4217 standard. The unit name BTC is also commonly used to represent one bitcoin, but it violates ISO 4217 because it begins with "BT", the country code of Bhutan. Bhutan does not actually use the code BTC for any currency, and XBT has not yet defined which unit it represents (just that it represents some unit of bitcoin), so the Bitcoin community is likely to continue using mainly BTC as a unit name and currency code for some time.
₿ (here rendered using a webfont -- you will see "BTC" if your browser does not support webfonts) has been the standard currency sign for BTC for a long time. This symbol can sort of be represented using existing Unicode features as (B⃦), but this symbol is completely broken on many devices/browsers, and at best it looks quite off. Some existing Unicode symbols have been proposed as alternatives, but also serious work is being done on creating a custom Bitcoin sign with its own official Unicode that is recognized by the Unicode Consortium. Note that creating an official currency sign is more complex than creating a logo as will be explained below.
New Unicode symbol
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In some discussions on topics 41, 369 and 7215 on the Bitcoin Forum several designs of an official Bitcoin sign have been proposed. This section on the Wiki is intended to streamline the process of arriving at an official Bitcoin currency sign with its own Unicode character code.
Having a unique Bitcoin currency sign will allow typographers to add their currency sign design in their fonts. This is similar as implementing support for the euro sign. Each font has its own version of the euro sign that fits with the style observed in the characters in the rest of the fonts of their typefaces. Note that the Unicode Consortium does not endorse Bitcoin in any way by assigning a Unicode character code, however, by having an official Unicode Bitcoin's perception of legitimacy will increase.
Requirements and criteria
A reference Bitcoin sign could/should/must be:
- recognizable as a currency sign such as $ € ¥ £ ¢ (e.g. with one or two vertical or horizontal bars)
- distinct from existing currency signs such as the Thai Baht, ฿
- built from recognizable existing characters found on most QWERTY keyboards such as bar |, minus -, hash # and/or capital B referring to currencies and Bitcoin
- easy to use in handwriting
- easy to compose with one or more compose sequences that are still free and refer to the elements recognizable in the sign (for example the euro sign can be composed from = and C even though the = and C are not part of how it is pronounced)
- possible to implement in serif and sans-serif (Most of the Unicode reference implementations are made with serifs but sans-serif also exist in sans-serif fonts. So a reference implementation in serif to what is found in the PDF is preferred.)
- possible to implement in regular, italic, bold and bold italic (for sans-serif the italic will simply be a slanted version)
- in SVG and use this template (save as bitcoin-sign-20110719-template.svg) with updated metadata and public domain or similar free/open/libre license
Note that a reference Bitcoin sign will only be used as a reference by the Unicode Consortium and it is up to typographers to implement their version matching the style of their typefaces and fonts.
It is possible to submit proposals for a reference implementation below.
|Preview||Handwritten||Associations||Compose sequence(s)||Designer||Link to SVG file||Notes|
|double barred dollar sign ($), capital b (B)||B|, |B, B=, =B||Pander||bitcoin-sign-20110719.svg||example submission based on ₿|
|hash (#), numeral three (3)||B#, #B, 3#, #3||Wareen||Bitcoin-proposal-1.svg||proposal based on original design idea from RylandAlmanza and netrin|
Existing Unicode symbol
There is a discussion over which Unicode symbol might be the best suited for Bitcoin.
To type Unicode characters, refer to:
It has led to the following options:
|Proposed character||Description & Pros & Cons||Unicode name||Unicode decimal input||Unicode hex input|
||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER B + COMBINING DOUBLE VERTICAL STROKE OVERLAY||U+0042 U+20E6|
||THAI CURRENCY SYMBOL BAHT||Alt +0E3F|
||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER B WITH STROKE||Alt +0243|
|Resembles the struck B while being different from Baht symbol||CANADIAN SYLLABICS CARRIER KHEE||Alt +15F8|
|LATIN CAPITAL LETTER B + COMBINING LONG DOUBLE SOLIDUS OVERLAY||U+0042 U+20EB|
||CIRCLED LATIN CAPITAL LETTER B||Alt +24B7|
||CIRCLED LATIN SMALL LETTER B||Alt +24D1|
|LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL BARRED B||Alt +1D03|
|(Unicode Block: Control Pictures) BLANK SYMBOL (graphic for space)||Alt +2422|
||GREEK SMALL LETTER BETA||Alt +03B2|
|delta for "digital"||Greek capital Delta. (In Greek it's pronounced as the "th" in "then" and not like "d" in "digital".||U+0394|
|contains 0 and I||Greek small Phi||U+0278|
|pronounced "bi", combines "b", turned "c" and "T", many Chinese users, also 网民币 - Wangminbi, "The Netizen's Currency" (pun on Renminbi)||Chinese for "Currency"||U+5E01|
|CURRENCY SIGN||Alt 0164||Alt +00A4|
|LATIN CAPITAL LETTER TONE SIX||Alt +0184|
|(Unicode Block: Mathematical Operators) THERE DOES NOT EXIST||Alt +2204|
| three bars like three bits
||(Unicode Block: Mathematical Operators) IDENTICAL TO||U+2261|
|GUJARATI LETTER GHA (Indo-Aryan language)||Alt +0A98|
|(Unicode Block: Greek and Coptic) COPTIC SMALL LETTER SHIMA||Alt +03ED|
|Purposed as a smaller unit of bitcoin. E.g. A hundredth of a bitcoin||CIRCLED LATIN SMALL LETTER S||Alt +24E2|
|(Unicode Block: Geometric Shapes) SQUARE WITH LOWER RIGHT DIAGONAL HALF BLACK||Alt +25EA|
|CIRCLED KATAKANA TU' (Japanese)||Alt +32E1|