BTC vs XBT: What Is The Difference?


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Most assets, like currencies, metals, and stocks, only have 1 ticker since they fully adhere to international standards.

However, that is not the case with Bitcoin due to its unregulated nature. 

Bitcoin has two commonly used tickers: BTC and XBT.

Let’s explore their differences and origin.

BTC vs XBT: What is the difference?

BTC and XBT are different tickers that represent the same asset, Bitcoin. 

So, 1 BTC is always equal to 1 XBT.

Why is it called BTC?

Satoshi Nakamoto always referred to Bitcoin as “Bitcoin”, never as “BTC.

The abbreviation BTC was naturally chosen by the Bitcoin community while discussing the asset on forums like 

When the first Bitcoin exchanges launched, they adopted the ticker as well, which further legitimized it.

Why is it called XBT?

Some exchanges refer to Bitcoin as XBT, because the ticker BTC violates ISO 4217, which is a standard delineating currency designator.

The ISO 4371 standard builds abbreviations based on the first two letters of the currency’s country code and the third is usually the first letter of the currency’s name.

Some examples are:

  • USD: US Dollar
  • JPY: Japanese Yen
  • GBP: Great Britain Pound

This same standard also states that if a currency is not linked to a particular country, it’s ticker should begin with an “X”. 

Some examples are:

  • XAU: Gold
  • XAG: Silver

Since Bitcoin is clearly a currency that does not belong to a specific country, technically, it’s ticker must start with an “X”.Hence, the ticker “XBT”.

Exchanges that use XBT

  • BitMEX: BitMEX is a derivatives exchange that uses XBT for its Bitcoin perpetual swap contracts.
  • Kraken: Kraken is a cryptocurrency spot exchange that uses XBT for its Bitcoin/Fiat pairs (like XBT/USD) and for its Altcoin/Bitcoin pairs (like ETH/XBT).

Is XBT or BTC more popular?

As we can see based on the list above, there are only 2 major exchanges using the XBT ticker, while all others use BTC.

Therefore, BTC is clearly significantly more popular than XBT.

pascal thellmann

Pascal Thellmann is an algorithmic trader mostly focused on market making. You can get in touch with Pascal on LinkedIn or Twitter.


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