The C-Unit (sometimes abbreviated as cunit, more often simply known as C's) is the official currency of the Confederacy of Humanity and its predecessor the URSS, the Molkor, and many other civilizations. It is the most widely used currency in the Milky Way and the Fornax Galaxy. To some extent, it is also circulated in Triangulum, Rentxo, Andromeda, and other galaxies where Confederate-related colonies are present.
Central authority to issue the currency lies on the hands of the Confederacy of Humanity, or to be precise, the Central Terran Bank headquartered on Earth. This is strictly dictated in the Articles of the Confederacy (Act 17, section 2). This includes minting, printing, burning, crediting, blockchaining, and various other methods.
The C-Unit is divided into 100 sub-units (better known as decas) and 10,000 sub-subunits (better known as decies). The latter is rarely used with 10 sub-subunits (called as singles) being the smallest available denomination in coins.
The physically circulated currency is available in form of silicon chips, metal coins, sheet prints, and special hologram pods. A Nickel-Chromium alloy is the main constituent of the coinage system, with the composition varying by value. For high-value coins, more precious metals like silver or platinum may be added. Actual paper or cotton fiber are used where available, but in most colonies plastic is used instead. Over 85% of transactions occur digitally, either by banking transfer system or by virtual currency similar to old Earth's bitcoins.
During the earlier phase of their space exploration in the early 22nd century, humans mainly conducted transactions with existing currencies such as the US Dollar or the Chinese Yuan or the Indian rupee. As the colonies expanded, however, so did their trade and economy. Soon enough the colonists found themselves lacking in local currency and many began to print/issue their own currencies. Excluding the currencies of Earth, there were dozens of currencies circulating in Sol by 2150, all of them fluctuating and exchanged freely causing significant confusion. The URSS, then newly formed, decided to clear up the mess and created the C-Unit. In the first few years, it simply added to the mess. After the currency secured the backing of earth's population, large corporations and banks, however, it began to slowly take over other currencies and by 2225 it was used by 95% of the human population. Some frontier colonies utilized their own currencies, which is still the case even in the 9900s.
As humanity progressed and partially assimilated other species, they also adopted the currency since it was already in wide use across the Orion Arm. On the turn of the millennium, the currency had been adopted by over a thousand systems. The use continued expanding along with humanity, being introduced to most major civilizations in the galaxy after the First Galactic War and taking over the Molkor's old currency after the Second Galactic War.
Contrary to many urban myths, the 'C' in C-unit is not an abbreviation of a longer word. Nevertheless, many perceive the word to be an abbreviation of words such as cash, confederacy, credit, chips, currency, etc. These words, when used in confederate space, will generally refer to the C-Unit (along with units, obviously). Outside confederate sphere of influence e.g. in Xcathili territory, the use of these words may cause confusion and hence it is suggested to refer to the currency with its proper name in these regions.
The digital currency is accounted to a millisub-sub unit i.e. 1/10,000,000 units, mainly for details in bank interests. The 'bits' are available in any amount to the sub-sub unit.
The coins are available in these denominations:
- 10 sub-subunits (1 single)
- 25 sub-subunits
- 50 sub-subunits
- 1 sub-units
- 2 sub-units
- 5 sub-units
While the chips are available in:
- 50 sub-subunits
- 1 sub-unit
- 2 sub-unit
- 5 sub-unit
- 10 sub-unit
- 15 sub-unit (somewhat rare)
- 25 sub-unit (Q-nit)
- 50 sub-unit (Halfyt)
- 1 unit
The banknotes have similar denominations with the chips, but with several additional values:
- 2 unit
- 5 unit
- 10 unit
- 25 unit (largest in common circulation)
- 50 unit (rarely found outside highly populated systems)
- 100 units (only issued by Core worlds' central banks)
- 500 units (commemoration of the Battle of Hathia, generally worth more due to its rarity)
According to the articles, only the Central Terran Bank has authority to issue the currency. In practice, the bank produces less than 0.1% the issued currency, giving issue quotas to multiple other bodies across the galaxy instead. As of now, all currency is still produced in Milky Way, save a single Molkor-owned chip issuer and a single money printing press in Nova Rexina.
Counterfeit currency is occasionally found in the galaxy, and culprits face harsh criminal charges. Most of the counterfeit found are chips (which are often overlooked by the seller, unlike paper notes). The banks have resorted to adding physical features to the chips to increase its authenticity.
The buying power of the C-unit varies widely across the galaxy. For a resident of Earth, where the minimum wage lies at 2 C-units per hour, a C-unit is not very valuable considering the living costs. However, in sparser colonies e.g. Brayleigh, where resources and living space are more abundant, a single unit can be enough for a normal man's daily spending.
Due to the insane differences in perceived value across the users estimating the exact value of the C-unit is highly difficult. Most economists place the value of a single C-unit between 40 to 100 US dollars in the early 21st century, though, with the average at about $63.
Similarly difficult to estimate is the amount of C-units circulating in the universe. The recent best estimate, released by Luna Statistics on 199997, places the amount of C-units circulating at 2.7 Undecillion C-units (2,700,000,000,000,000,000) with over 200 Decillion users across nearly 130 million systems. Of this amount, 70% are in data form i.e. in bank accounts, 15% in bit form, 9% in chips, 5.8% in paper and 0.2% in coinage.
Many Milky Way civilizations which do not adopt the C-Unit as an official currency fixed their currency value to the C-Unit. Only extremely advanced civilizations such as the Xcathli or those which are less dependent on interstellar trade allow their currency to fluctuate against the C-Unit.