Archive for March, 2016

A Brief History of Chinese Currency

Posted on: March 2nd, 2016 by Ian Stormnet

As you can imagine, China’s history is steeped with colourful traditions, beautiful cuisines and a vast heritage, so it isn’t hard to believe that they’ve had an incredible impact on the rest of the world. Anything from fast paced technological developments, to wonderfully wacky inventions, and to everyday things that we may not even consciously think about, such as money. The Chinese just seem to have a knack for presenting new ideas and inventions that will ultimately be taken on around the world, and their means of currency is no exception to this…

Where it all Began

It is widely believed that China has a long relationship with money and currency, as it has been used within their country for over 3,000 years! So it is no wonder that many of their inventions were to be taken seriously, being such innovators and early bloomers in this field. They began using cowry shells as a form of currency, which eventually led to the invention of the first coins to be made of metal. It didn’t stop there. They continued to come up with several different means and ways of currency and exchange. This included, using bronze objects in the shapes of spades and knives as forms of coins.

They Weren’t Always This Smart

We are led to believe that during the period of time between 210AD and 90BC there was a major disruption to currencies and major inflations due to emperors and people in power being allowed to make their own coins and money.

“Flying Money”

Around 960AD to 1279AD the first glimpse of paper money made an appearance. Before this, it is suggested that the first kind of ‘flat money’ was made from deerskin as a type of leather note. They would then paint around the edges of the note to define the amount. In 1024, the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty took over production of paper money, the first currency to not be back by silver or gold. Compared to heavy shrapnel, this form of currency was much easier to carry around due to its lightweight form, thus the name “flying money”.


With this exciting new form of currency came the eventuality of misuse and over printing. This major inflation caused many issues for the Yuan court until the demise of the Dynasty in 1368. After this, many issues were suspended, however a lot of these notes remained in circulation for many years after.

Follow the Leader

Europe followed a step behind China in regards to their innovations towards currency. Paper money was nowhere to be seen until it was recorded in Marco Polo’s writings during the 13th century onwards. Although, paper notes were not formally adopted by Europe until Sweden introduced their bank notes in 1661.

Today, China has three forms of active currency; Renminbi, Hong Kong dollar and Macanese Pataca. However, Renminbi, is the most commonly used by the citizens of mainland China, whilst the other two are used in Hong Kong and Macau. We cannot deny that China has had an incredibly large impact on the entire world on the way we use money in exchange for goods and services. All countries use some form of paper money thanks to China and their innovative ideas. So, if you happen to find yourself some Chinese Renminbi, remember that your wallet/purse would be a lot heavier today if it weren’t for them! So, if you need any help on how to exchange your notes (and coins!) then contact us our experts today.