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The Currencies of Asia's Leading Economies

February 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 193

Asia is home to many of the emerging powerhouses of international trade including the second largest economy in the world, China. Economic muscle in Asia continues to grow whilst markets elsewhere in the world get to grips with the global recession. It is therefore worth being familiar with not only its largest economies but in particular their official currencies.


The official currency of the Peoples Democratic Republic of China is the Renminbi (translated as the 'peoples currency'). The currency is controlled by the People's Bank of China and is used throughout the country, with the exception of the semi autonomous city states of Macau (Macanese pataca) and Hong Kong (Hong Kong dollar). The currency is also used unofficially in Mongolia and areas of Burma.

The primary unit of the Renminbi is the yuan with one yuan, ¥ 1, being made up of 10 jiao or 100 fen. The term yuan itself derives from the name for a small round coin and shares this derivation with the similarly titled currencies of Japan and South Korea (see below). Legal tender in China includes coinage from ¥ 0.01 to ¥ 1 and bank notes from ¥ 0.1 to ¥ 2.

In pound sterling, one yuan is currently worth around £0.101 although the currency's use in international trade markets is still taking its first tentative steps.


India's official currency is the Indian Rupee which is again used elsewhere unofficially including areas of neighbouring Bhutan and Nepal. The currency is issued by the Reserve Bank of India whilst the rupee's symbol is relatively new and only came into use in July 2011 following a public competition to redesign it.

One rupee is theoretically divided into 100 paise, however due to the low value of a paisa, the smallest unit of legal tender in India is actually (the) 50 paise (coin). India's coinage extends up to 10 rupees and its notes range from 5 to 1,000 rupees. In pound sterling, one rupee is currently worth around £0.013.


Perhaps the most known Asian currency outside of the continent is the Japanese yen as a result of it being the third most traded international currency (behind US$ and Euro). The yen is controlled by the Bank of Japan and shares a very similar symbol, ¥, to the Chinese yuan as a consequence of the shared derivation of the term (designating a round coin).

One yen, ¥ 1, can theoretically by divided into 100 sen and 1,000 rin although due to the low value of these denominations they have not been in circulation since 1953. Japanese legal tender now ranges from ¥ 1 to ¥ 10,000 with coinage up to ¥ 500 and notes from ¥ 1,000 upwards. In pound sterling, one yen is currently worth around £0.008.

South Korea

The currency of South Korean is the won and is controlled by the Bank of Korea. As implied above, the won, and its subunit, the jeon, are both derivations of the local words for round coin, a derivation held in common with the yen and yuan of Japan and China respectively.

As with subdivisions of the yen, the won only has theoretical sub units with one won equating to 100 jeon. The lowest unit of legal tender in South Korea is a 10 won coin, and the highest a 50,000 won bank note. In pound sterling one won is currently worth less than £0.001.


Russia straddles (or even encompasses) much of the northern territories of both Europe and Asia and it is therefore a major economic power on both continents. It's official currency is the ruble which is controlled by the Central Bank of Russia. As the currency of the former Soviet Union, the ruble has a historical presence in areas outside of modern Russia and is still used, for example in the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Currently the ruble lacks an official symbol with a variety of unofficial symbols in use, although the Central Bank of Russia are working on standardising one.

One ruble can be further divided into 100 kopeks, with legal tender taking the form of coins from 1 kopek to 10 rubles and banks notes from 5 to 5,000 rubles. In pound sterling, one ruble is currently worth around £0.021.

Some of these Asian currencies, most likely the Chinese yuan (as China embraces international economics), are likely to become almost as familiar to people in the West as the dollar or pound sterling are currently. Asia is guaranteed to play an increasingly prominent role in global finances and trade and so being aware of these markets and their currencies is vital for those looking to ride the wave of Asian success.

© Stuart Mitchell 2012

I'm a small business owner. If you want to find out more about investment opportunities in Asia then visit Asian Investment Funds.

Source: EzineArticles
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