In brief

  • After more than a decade of growth, Bitcoin now ranks among the ten largest world currencies.
  • The USD, EUR, CNY, JPY, and INR are the only world currencies with a larger money supply than Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin currently occupies the position of sixth-largest world currency but reached as high as fifth place in 2017.

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 $11,300.

In that time, the market capitalization of Bitcoin—defined as its circulating supply multiplied by the value of each unit—has skyrocketed to reach more than $200 billion, making Bitcoin not only the largest cryptocurrency ever to exist, but also larger than many 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 shy of 1.38 trillion euros in circulation as of the latest update (July 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 trillion CNY in circulation, with an equivalent value of $1.15 trillion. The Japanese yen (JPY) isn't far behind in fourth place with 106 trillion circulating JPY notes and coins as of July 2020, or just north of $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. The fifth-largest currency by circulating supply is the Indian rupee (INR), which has more than 31 trillion INR in notes in circulation currently, currently worth just north of $425 billion.

Last, but by no means least, Bitcoin (BTC) currently occupies the position of sixth-largest currency by circulating supply, narrowly edging out the Russian ruble (RUB) to secure its position.

Bitcoin currently has 18.48 million units in circulation, each worth $11,722 at today's value. This places Bitcoin's M0 cap at $216.5 billion, making it around half the size of the Indian rupee and just over one-tenth 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 absolute peak, Bitcoin achieved a market capitalization of close to $330 billion. At the time, this would have made Bitcoin the fifth largest world currency.