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Bitcoin project logo.

Bitcoin project logo.

Last week, the Bitcoin Foundation announced a plan to finally solve one of the digital currency’s nagging problems: The lack of a Unicode-approved symbol. Although bitcoin has officially used the symbol of a capital “B” with two vertical strokes through it (in the style of the U.S. dollar), that symbol doesn’t exist in the Unicode standard. As a result, there is no native option for displaying the symbol in any standard computer font. That’s a problem for long-term adoption, forcing awkward solutions for companies and websites advertising their bitcoin options. To solve the problem, the Bitcoin Foundation is forming a committee to determine the best way to bring bitcoin and Unicode closer together.

The symbol issue goes almost back to the start of bitcoin itself. In February of 2010, bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto proposed adopting the current symbol as the early stages of the project were coming together. “How does everyone feel about the B symbol with the two lines through the outside?” he wrote. “Can we live with that as our logo?”

Without a Unicode symbol for bitcoin, many users have adopted existing symbols that closely resemble the official logo, such as the symbol for the Thai Baht (฿) and an existing but unused variation on “B” with a horizontal lower stroke (Ƀ). Several months ago, it was thought that Unicode might include the bitcoin symbol in its new 7.0.0 release, but that addition never materialized.

The Bitcoin Foundation Standards Committee will create a formal bitcoin symbol for Unicode, and advocating for its inclusion in coming updates. The committee will also address some lingering issues about how fractional denominations are referred to (μBTC, mBTC, satoshi), and may push for the adoption of ISO-compliant XBT unit references rather than the current BTC. The volunteer committee may also tackle other standardization issues as needed.

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