Is There a Bitcoin Ticker Symbol?

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The basic Bitcoin ticker symbol comes in two flavors: BTC and XBT.

BTC is the informal ticker symbol Bitcoin was given shortly after its birth; XBT is its currency code, compliant with the rules of the International Organization for Standardization. The Bitcoin Foundation has applied to the ISO to formally approve XBT.

Further complicating matters was the Aug. 1, 2017 hard fork that created Bitcoin Cash. This new flavor of Bitcoin also has two ticker symbols. Yikes!

First, here's how we ended up with two Bitcoin ticker symbols for the "legacy" Bitcoin...

Why We Have Two Bitcoin Ticker Symbols

Bitcoin ticker symbolIn Bitcoin's early years (prior to 2013), the BTC ticker symbol was commonly used as a shorthand for Bitcoin. It's a clear and logical abbreviation for Bitcoin.

Because of that and because it originated shortly after Bitcoin's launch in 2009, the BTC ticker remains in use.

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But when it came time to assign a currency code to Bitcoin, BTC didn't work. The problem is that the first two letters, "BT," happen to be the country code for Bhutan - an ISO no-no. (It wasn't a conflict with Bhutan's currency, the ngultrum, which uses the ticker symbol BTN.)

The Bitcoin Sign

Unsurprisingly, Bitcoin also has two symbols to be used like a dollar sign to denote bitcoin amounts in text.

One (shown in the photo) has double bars running through a capital "B," but can't be created from a keyboard.

That complication gave rise to the second Bitcoin symbol, Ƀ. It's one of the dozens of alternative characters built into most standard typefaces. You can find it in the "Symbol" menu in Microsoft Word.

So in 2013, a new Bitcoin ticker symbol was created, XBT, for use specifically as a currency code. The "X" prefix was chosen because Bitcoin is a "supranational" currency, not belonging to any one nation. (Other examples of this include gold, which uses the symbol XAU, and silver, which uses XAG.)

BTC was too entrenched to fade away, though. Some sites use both symbols; others prefer one over the other.

Here are some tips on using these Bitcoin ticker symbols...

Where and How to Use BTC and XBT

If you want check the price of Bitcoin against any other currency in a Google search, for example, you use the BTC ticker.

So to get the latest Bitcoin price in dollars on Google, you'd type in "BTC USD" (you may have to add price to get the currency price box to pop up).

But the foreign exchange website uses only the XBT ticker symbol. And another currency conversion website, Oanda, uses both BTC and XBT.

Most Bitcoin exchanges, such as Gemini, Poloniex, and Bitfinex, stick with the traditional BTC symbol. But a few, like Kraken, adopted the XBT symbol.

Typically, XBT is also used on financial news and data sites such as Bloomberg or CNN Money.

Related: How to Buy Bitcoins - Your Guide to Digital Profits

But on other sites - including popular ones like Yahoo Finance and Google Finance -  investors looking for a Bitcoin price quote won't get anywhere with either BTC or XBT.

For those sites, you need to use the ticker symbol NYXBT, formally known as the NYSE Bitcoin Index. It doesn't represent Bitcoin itself, as do BTC and XBT, but is a proprietary index created by the New York Stock Exchange in 2015.

The NYXBT is only updated once daily, however, at approximately 6 p.m. Eastern time. So if you're interested in tracking the minute-by-minute adventures of the Bitcoin markets, you'll be better served looking on the Bitcoin exchanges or using the Coindesk website.

And as if that weren't confusing enough, along comes Bitcoin Cash with two more ticker symbols...

The Bitcoin Cash Ticker Symbols

Bitcoin Cash is a variant of Bitcoin that allows larger blocks - eight megabytes rather than one megabyte - so that more transactions can fit in each block. This was one group's answer to the growing problem of having more transactions than the Bitcoin network could process.

When Bitcoin Cash "forked" from legacy Bitcoin, it became a separate cryptocurrency the required its own ticker symbol. This was especially critical on the Bitcoin exchanges, where the two versions trade against each other as a currency pair.

The logical Bitcoin Cash ticker symbol was BCC, which several exchanges adopted. Problem is, another cryptocurrency called BitConnect already uses the BCC ticker symbol.

So another Bitcoin Cash symbol sprung up: BCH. Some Bitcoin exchanges use the BCH ticker symbol, but others continue to use BCC. The lack of a standard is exasperating, but there's no authority to enforce one.

Unless something changes, we're stuck with multiple Bitcoin ticker symbols.

Apart from these, there are several other Bitcoin-related ticker symbols you should know about...

Ticker Symbols for Investments Related to Bitcoin

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So far, few Bitcoin-based investments have emerged. But several are percolating...

Grayscale Investment's Bitcoin Investment Trust, which trades on the OTC markets under the symbol GBTC, is available only to accredited investors for now. Grayscale has proposed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that GBTC be upgraded to a full-fledged exchange-traded fund (ETF), but approval is unlikely in the near future.

Likewise, the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF, formally known as the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust (Nasdaq: COIN), was rejected by the SEC in March. The SEC was troubled by the lack of regulation in the global Bitcoin markets. When that is rectified, the Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF will likely win approval.

Another proposed Bitcoin ETF, the SolidX Bitcoin Trust (NYSE Arca: XBTC), is also seeking SEC approval. Like the others, it's in for a long wait.

As for Bitcoin stock symbols, we're still waiting for the first U.S. Bitcoin IPO.

But there are numerous Bitcoin penny stocks. Most are companies that switched businesses to exploit the surge of interest in Bitcoin. While tempting for investors looking for alternative ways to invest in Bitcoin, these stocks are highly risky.

They include:

  • First Bitcoin Capital Corp. (OTCMKTS: BITCF) - This company seeks to acquire Bitcoin startups, raise funding, and invest in companies developing Bitcoin software and hardware.
  • BTCS Inc. (OTCMKTS: BTCS) - Formerly Bitcoin Shop, BTCS had major setbacks in 2016, particularly regarding its North Carolina Bitcoin mining operation. It now plans to shift focus again to investing in digital tokens offered through initial coin offerings (ICOs).
  • Bayside Corp. (OTCMKTS: BYSD) - Through its subsidiary Bitcoinz, Bayside offers secure offline Bitcoin storage services. Previously, this odd 30-year-old company was in the oil and gas business, and prior to that the sales and leasing of all-terrain vehicles.
  • Bitcoin Brands Inc. (OTCMKTS: CEHC) - A part of Cephas Holding Corp., Bitcoin Brands offers travel services, such as the sale of airline tickets, allowing customers to pay in Bitcoin.
  • Digatrade Financial Corp. (OTCMKTS: DIGAF) - Formerly Bit-X Financial Corp., Vancouver-based Digatrade runs a cryptocurrency trading platform.

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About the Author

David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.

Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.

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