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A library for handling Bitcoin transactions and associated data

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This Python3 library provides an easy interface to the bitcoin transaction data structures. This is based on, but is focused only on providing the tools to build, manipulate and sign bitcoin transactions, and related data structures.

It does not aim to be "The Swiss Army Knife of the Bitcoin protocol", but rather be a more specialized tool for handling transactions and associated data, with a focus on correctness, consistency, and developer ergonomics.

Notable differences from python-bitcoinlib

  • Network-related code that deals with network messages and blocks is removed.
  • Some API have changed and may be not compatible with old code (see below)
  • libsecp256k1 is used for signing and verifying. Signing by libsecp256k1 is deterministic, per RFC6979.
  • Support for PSBT (BIP174 Partially-signed transactions)
  • HD keys support
  • Easier to build code that supports and interacts with other bitcoin-based blockchains (see and
  • A wrapper for libbitcoinconsensus's script verification function is included
  • RPC API wrapper is 'raw' - does not convert the results of the calls to the library objects.
  • Fully type-annotated and statically checked with mypy

Note on v1.0.0 release

The switch from v0.10.x to v1.0.0 was done because of the big refactoring effort that was made to improve the consistency of the library API, make it more composeable and maintainable. This required significant API breakage, and it made sense to bump the version.

The first release of the v1.0.x version introduced significant amount of new code (note that any new code compes with possibility of new bugs), and increased the differences from python-bitcoinlib.

This long post elaborates on the motivations behind the decisions that shaped the library and v1.0.0 release in particular, and also has some code examples.


It is recommended to build the libsecp256k1 library by hand, using the following commit:


Libsecp256k1 is not linked as a git submodule in python-bitcointx git repository, because python-bitcointx can still be used with other versions of libsecp256k1 as long as experimental modules with unstable ABI of are not used, or are compatible with the vesion from the commit listed above. Please note that the ABI even for non-experimental modules of libsecp256k1 has no guarantees of not changing, as that library has no 'release' version as of date.

While allowing dynamic linkage with libsecp256k1 adds these complications, it is at the same time allows more flexibility for advanced uses. For example, one can use libsecp256k1-zkp instead of libsecp256k1 to have access to zero-knowledge-proof related functions, as is done by python-elementstx package.

For best results, use the version that corresponds to the commit hash listed above, as it is the commit that python-bitcointx automatic tests use to build libsecp256k1. Then make sure that this version of the library is loaded by python-bitcointx, by using bitcointx.set_custom_secp256k1_path() or LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable.


$ pip install python-bitcointx
$ pipenv install python-bitcointx
$ poetry add python-bitcointx


Everything consensus critical is found in the modules under bitcointx.core. This rule is followed pretty strictly, for instance chain parameters are split into consensus critical and non-consensus-critical.

bitcointx.core            - Basic core definitions, datastructures, and
                            (context-independent) validation
bitcointx.core.key        - ECC keys, BIP32Paths
bitcointx.core.script     - Scripts and opcodes
bitcointx.core.scripteval - Script evaluation/verification
bitcointx.core.psbt       - BIP174 Partially-signed transactions
bitcointx.core.serialize  - Serialization
bitcointx.core.secp256k1  - functions to interface with secp256k1 C library
                            (Note: to safely use it, experience with C
                            and understanting of python-C interop is a must)
bitcointx.core.sha256     - (Slow) python implementation of SHA256,
                            but with ability to get SHA256 mid-state
                          - ctypes wrapping code for libbitcoinconsensus script
                            verification function, with interface compatible
                            with VerifyScript from bitcointx.core.scripteval

Note that this code does not aim to be fully consensus-compatible with current bitcoin core codebase. Corner cases that is not relevant to creating valid bitcoin transactions is unlikely to be considered. See also note on VerifyScript usage below.

Non-consensus critical modules include the following:

bitcointx          - Chain selection
bitcointx.base58   - Base58 encoding
bitcointx.bech32   - Bech32 encoding
bitcointx.rpc      - Bitcoin Core RPC interface support
bitcointx.wallet   - Wallet-related code, currently Bitcoin address and
                     private key support
bitcointx.util     - various code-related utitlity classes and functions

Effort has been made to follow the Satoshi source relatively closely, for instance Python code and classes that duplicate the functionality of corresponding Satoshi C++ code uses the same naming conventions: CTransaction, CPubKey, nValue etc. Otherwise Python naming conventions are followed.

Mutable vs. Immutable objects

Like the Bitcoin Core codebase CTransaction is immutable and CMutableTransaction is mutable; unlike the Bitcoin Core codebase this distinction also applies to COutPoint, CTxIn, CTxOut and CTxWitness.

Endianness Gotchas

Rather confusingly Bitcoin Core shows transaction and block hashes as little-endian hex rather than the big-endian the rest of the world uses for SHA256. python-bitcointx provides the convenience functions x() and lx() in bitcointx.core to convert from big-endian and little-endian hex to raw bytes to accomodate this. In addition see b2x() and b2lx() for conversion from bytes to big/little-endian hex.

API changes vs python-bitcoinlib

Note: only public API changes is listed here

  • CBitcoinAddress(<testnet_or_regtest_address>) won't work: you will need to use CCoinAddress (universal, the class of returned instance depends on current chain params), or CBitcoinTestnetAddress/CBitcoinRegtestAddress directly. CBitcoinAddress is used only for Bitcoin mainnet addresses.
  • rpc.Proxy removed, rpc.RPCCaller added (same as old rpc.RawProxy, but btc_conf_file kwarg renamed to just conf_file). If old rpc.Proxy functionality is desired, it should be implemented as a separate library.
  • CTransaction default version changed to 2
  • CPubKey.is_valid, CPubKey.is_fullyvalid and CPubKey.is_compressed should now be called as methods: pub.is_valid(), not pub.is_valid. CPubKey.is_valid() is also deprecated, and CPubKey.is_nonempty() should be used instead, to avoid possible confusion is_valid()/is_fullyvalid().
  • CBitcoinAddressError is removed, CCoinAddressError should be used instead
  • Chain params for bitcoin is renamed, instead of 'mainnet', 'testnet', 'regtest' it is now 'bitcoin', 'bitcoin/testnet', 'bitcoin/mainnet'
  • CBech32Data.from_bytes - changed arg order, witver is now kwarg
  • CTxWitness is now immutable, CMutableTxWitness is added.
  • If mutable components supplied to CTransaction, they will be internally converted to immutable, and vise versa with CMutableTransaction
  • string representations (returned by repr and str) of various objects will often differ from that of python-bitcoinlib's.
  • COIN, MAX_MONEY, etc. moved to CoreCoinParams class, that can be subclassed and will be dispatched similar to CTransaction and friends. It is recommended to use MoneyRange() and coins_to_satoshi(), satoshi_to_coins() functions. The two former functions will also raise ValueError if supplied/returned value is outside of MoneyRange. (unless check_range=False is passed)
  • MoneyRange() function does not accept params= argument anymore. To get money range for different params, you can use with ChainParams():.

Note on VerifyScript() usage

VerifyScript() in bitcointx.core.scripteval is (incomplete) python implementation of Bitcoin script interpreter. It may be useful for debugging purposes.

But! Bitcoin Core should always remain the authoritative source on bitcoin transaction inputs validity.

If you want script verification with consensus rules, you should use libbitcoinconsensus (, available via ConsensusVerifyScript() in bitcointx.core.bitcoinconensus. But also please note that ConsensusVerifyScript() does not check any standardness rules, only consensus rules.

Script evaluation code of VerifyScript() is NOT in sync with Bitcoin Core code, and lacks some features. While some effort was made to make it behave closer to the code in Bitcoin Core, full compatibility is far away, and most likely will not be ever achieved.

WARNING: DO NOT rely on VerifyScript() in deciding if certain signed transaction input is valid. In some corner cases (non-standard signature encoding, unhandled script evaluation flags, etc) it may deem something invalid that bitcoind would accept as valid. More importanty, it could accept something as valid that bitcoind would deem invalid. ConsensusVerifyScript() should be suitable for that purpose, as it is just a thin wrapper over the C library libbitcoinconsensus.

Module import style

While not always good style, it's often convenient for quick scripts if import * can be used. To support that all the modules have __all__ defined appropriately.

Example Code

See examples/ directory. For instance this example creates a transaction spending a pay-to-script-hash transaction output:

$ PYTHONPATH=. examples/
<hex-encoded transaction>

Selecting the chain to use

Do the following:

import bitcointx

Where NAME is one of 'bitcoin', 'bitcoin/testnet', or 'bitcoin/regtest'. The chain parameters currently selected is a thread-local variable that changes behavior everywhere. If you need to change the parameters temporary, you can use ChainParams context manager. To get current chain params, you can use get_current_chain_params():

from bitcointx import ChainParams
with ChainParams('bitcoin/testnet') as params:
    print(f"{params.readable_name} params ({}) are in effect")

will print

Bitcoin testnet params (bitcoin/testnet) are in effect

Unit tests

Under bitcointx/tests using test data from Bitcoin Core. To run them:

python3 -m unittest discover

Alternately, if Tox (see is available on your system, you can run unit tests for multiple Python versions:


Currently, the following implementations are tried (any not installed are skipped):

* CPython 3.6
* CPython 3.7
* CPython 3.8-dev

HTML coverage reports can then be found in the htmlcov/ subdirectory.


Sphinx documentation is in the "doc" subdirectory. Run "make help" from there to see how to build. You will need the Python "sphinx" package installed.

Currently this is just API documentation generated from the code and docstrings. Higher level written docs would be useful, perhaps starting with much of this README. Pages are written in reStructuredText and linked from index.rst.

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