In brief

  • After more than a decade of growth, Bitcoin now ranks among the ten largest world currencies.
  • The USD, EUR, CNY, and JPY are the only world currencies with a larger money supply than Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin currently occupies the position of fifth-largest world currency, reclaiming a position it lost in 2018.

Since its creation just over a decade ago, Bitcoin (BTC) has seen its price climb from practically nothing, up to its current value of over $38,000.

In that time, the market capitalization of Bitcoin—defined as its circulating supply multiplied by the value of each unit—has skyrocketed to reach nearly $720 billion, making Bitcoin not only the largest cryptocurrency ever to exist, but also larger than most fiat currencies.

Although Bitcoin and fiat currencies aren't exactly equivalent in terms of how the circulating value is calculated, we can roughly estimate where Bitcoin sits in the world currency rankings by comparing its market capitalization to the M0 money supply of fiat currencies.

The M0 figure represents the total value of all the banknotes, coins, and other money substitutes that can be easily converted into cash. The M0 value is also commonly known as "narrow money".

Where Bitcoin fits into the world currency rankings

The US dollar (USD) is currently by far the largest fiat currency by circulating supply. According to the US Federal Reserve, there is $1.95 trillion worth of Federal Reserve notes and coins in circulation—more than three-quarters of which is made up of $100 and $20 bills.

Next up is the Euro (EUR)—a relatively new currency that first launched in 2002 and is now used throughout much of Europe and by most EU member states.

Like the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank maintains an up to date reference for the amount of EUR banknotes and coins it enters into circulation. According to the official statistics, there was just over 1.4 trillion euros in circulation as of the latest update (November 2020). This has ballooned more than threefold since the euro first launched, and the total value is mostly made up of €20 and €50 notes.

The Chinese Yuan (CNY) is the world's third most valuable currency. As per data from TradingEconomics, there are around 8.16 trillion CNY in circulation, with an equivalent value of $1.26 trillion. The Japanese yen (JPY) isn't far behind in fourth place with at least 112.7 trillion circulating JPY notes and coins in circulation as of the last update by the Bank of Japan, or just shy of $1.1 trillion when measured against the dollar.

The US dollar, euro, Chinese yuan, and Japanese yen are the only fiat currencies with a total M0 capitalization of over $1 trillion. Last, but by no means least, Bitcoin (BTC) currently occupies the position of fifth-largest currency by circulating supply, narrowly edging out the Indian rupee (INR) to secure its position.

The Indian rupee (INR) currently has more than 33 trillion INR in notes in circulation, worth just north of $452 billion.

Bitcoin currently has 18.59 million units in circulation, each worth $38,329 at today's value. This places Bitcoin's M0 cap at $712.7 billion, making it more than half the size of the Japanese yen and just over a third of the size of the US dollar. At its current market cap, Bitcoin has a money supply worth more than 170 different fiat currencies.

At its current market cap of $719 billion, Bitcoin would need a further 200% growth to become the world’s largest currency (crypto or otherwise) when measured by circulating value.

Considering Bitcoin gained 305% in 2020 alone, this might not be such a far-fetched prospect.