What is the most valuable currency in the world? Is it the British Pound, once the most valuable currency in world history? Issued in 775 A.D., it’s now about 1,200 years old. Or is it the world’s reserve currency, the United States dollar? In this Treasury Vault article, we’ve compiled a list of the world’s top currencies.
TOP 10 MOST VALUABLE CURRENCIES IN THE WORLD
- The Kuwaiti Dinar
- The Bahraini Dinar
- The Oman Rial
- The Jordan Dinar
- The British Pound Sterling
- The Cayman Islands Dollar
- The European Euro
- The Swiss Franc
- The US Dollar
- The Canadian Dollar
The world’s most valuable currency notes are not what you might expect. Out of 180 monetary classifications of banknotes used in 195 countries, the more historical, well-established currencies are not at the top. Let’s take a brief look at their various currency codes, its value compared to the USD, and some reasons for its significance as a global currency.
Curious about what country has the most valuable currency? Here is a list of the top ten most valuable currencies in the world in 2019.
1. The Kuwaiti Dinar
Kuwait’s national currency is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD), and 1 KWD equals 3.29 USD. Issued in 1961, after Kuwait’s independence forced Britain to withdraw its political control of the Middle East, the Kuwaiti Dinar is the most valuable currency today.
In 1975, Kuwait pegged its national currency to a monetary system called “a weighted currency basket.” The Iraqi dinar replaced it after the 1990 Iraqi invasion, but after liberation in 1991, the Kuwaiti government put this currency in circulation again and restored the dinar exchange rate value. Pegged to the US dollar in 2003, Kuwait returned to the weighted currency basket in 2007, where it remains a strong currency.
2. The Bahraini Dinar
Bahrain’s national currency is the Bahraini Dinar (KWD), and 1 BHD equals 2.65 USD. The government issued the Bahraini dinar in 1965 when it was still a British protectorate. In 1980, Bahrain pegged the currency to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. Because it’s a desert state, it’s a net importer, paying for its essential needs — including water — through strong petroleum production exports.
3. The Oman Rial
Oman’s national currency is the Oman Rial (OMR), and 1 OMR pegs to 2.6O USD. In 1970, when the Qaboos bin Said al-Said established the Sultanate of Oman, it used the Saudi Riyal. Then in 1973, the country issued the Oman Rial and pegged it to the USD.
Despite its short existence, the Oman Rial now ranks as number three on our list because of its economic stability. Initially, because of modest oil reserves discovered in 1967 compared to other oil-rich countries in the Arabian Peninsula, it relied on a diverse economy, earning income from tourism, livestock (camel and goat herding), agriculture, fishing, and handicrafts. However, in 2002, it ramped oil production to over 900,000 barrels a day.
4. The Jordan Dinar
Jordan’s national currency is the Jordan Dinar (JOD), and 1 JOD pegs to 1.41 USD. In 1946, Jordan became an independent kingdom. Then, in 1949 and 1950, the country introduced a national currency.
In 1995, the government linked the Jordanian dinar to the Standard Drawing Rights (SDR). The SDR is an International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve currency started in 1969, which operates like the USD. Today, Jordan ranks as a strong currency because of strong foreign investments and high public confidence.
5. The British Pound Sterling
The United Kingdom’s national currency is the British Pound Sterling (GBP), and 1 GBP pegs to 1.26 USD. When it comes to the history of money, the British pound sterling may be the most resilient. It’s still a major player in the world of high finance, and it took three world-shaking events like World War I, World War II, and the Great Depression of the 1930s to force the mighty British pound sterling to give up its leadership role as the world’s reserve currency. Yet, despite its fall from grace, it remains a formidable currency — the fifth most valuable in the world.
6. The Cayman Islands Dollar
The Cayman Islands’ national currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (KYD), and 1 KYD equals 1.20 USD.
In 1972, the Cayman Islands announced its new currency to the money market, and today, it’s tightly pegged to the USD and rises and falls parallel to it.
7. The European Euro
The European Union’s money is the European Euro (EUR), and 1 EUR converts to 1.14 USD. The euro to dollar rate keeps changing because the euro uses a flexible exchange rate.
Besides the 17 countries of the Eurozone that peg to the euro, other countries in the world also peg to the euro. Because of its widespread usage, it is among the most popular and expensive currencies in the world, with many nations relying on it for international cash settlements.
8. The Swiss Franc
Switzerland’s national currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF), and 1 CHF pegs to 1.04 USD. The Swiss Franc is also Liechtenstein’s legal tender. When a multinational business is researching tax havens, it will often use this currency for its foreign offshore banks.
9. The US Dollar
The United States’ national currency is the US Dollar (USD). Naturally, 1 USD is equal to 1 USD because it is both a national currency and a world reserve currency.
In July 1944, delegates from 44 nations gathered in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to create an international monetary system, choosing the dollar as the world reserve currency. Because it’s the world’s reserve currency, almost every country in the world uses this currency. While some use the US dollar to measure the value of their money against other currencies, others use it as an acceptable alternative to their own denominations of equal value. Some countries have even adopted the money as their national currency, using United States paper money as their own legal tender—a monetary system that economists call “dollarization.”
Since we base the US dollar on a floating exchange rate, its value often fluctuates, which affects currencies closely pegged to it like the money of the Cayman Islands.
10. The Canadian Dollar
Canada’s national currency is the Canadian dollar (CAD), and 1 CAD pegs to 0.75 USD. Valued for its stability and purchasing power, it’s used by many investors—intraday market speculators, investment bankers, forex brokers, individual investors, managers of hedge funds, etc. Investors frequently use it in the FOREX market through currency pairings and in the CME Globex futures market.
It has a market share value of about 119 USD, and the IMF ranks it as the world’s fifth most commonly held money. Since it’s a floating currency, an open market rate determines its value, not the Canadian government. Consequently, its value can fluctuate as much as ten percent in a single trading day.
What’s the Most Valuable Currency for Investing?
After reviewing this list, keep in mind that you shouldn’t necessarily change how you invest based on a new understanding of what currency is the most valuable. The purpose of this list is to help you stay informed — but it’s not a guide on what currencies to buy or sell.
Understanding the world’s most valuable currency will help you understand the wealthiest places and monetary policies in the world, but knowing about the most valuable world currencies will not help you make smarter investment decisions. Instead, you will trade better if you understand how international trade affects currency rates, as well as what other factors affect currency exchange rates.
You will trade better in foreign currency markets when you know where to access the most reliable financial updates, understand Fibonacci retracements, and can evaluate the stability of a currency based on current events and political news.
The best currency for investors to spend their time and attention remains the Euro, the US Dollar, the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, the Swiss Franc, and the Canadian dollar. Be prepared to play the long game if you invest in the Kuwaiti Dinar, the Bahraini Dinar, the Oman Rial, or the Jordan Dinar. Instead, focus on understanding how the monetary system works. For instance, learn what online tools provide the most accurate euro to dollar conversion and study what geopolitical factors influence the dollar to euro exchange rate.
If you’re interested in foreign currency investments, you will get the best returns from trading pairs like EUR/USD (Euro/US Dollar), USD/JPY (US dollar/ Japanese Yen, GBP/USD (British Pound/US Dollar), AUD/USD (Australian Dollar/ US Dollar), USD/CHF (US Dollar/ Swiss Franc), and USD/CAD (US Dollar/ Canadian Dollar).
How Do Analysts Determine the Most Valuable Currency in the World?
How does a country make it to the list in the first place? A system called a dollar peg may decide its value, comparing its fixed exchange rate to the United States dollar.
A nation’s central bank often controls the value of its money based on the rise and fall of the American dollar. Since they peg the value of their currency to the dollar, the value of their money goes up when the dollar rises, and the value of their money goes down when the dollar falls. The dollar fluctuates because it’s based on a floating exchange rate monetary policy.
We use the dollar as a basis of comparison because many world governments formally recognized it as the world’s reserve currency by the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. Today, about 66 countries peg their currency to it, with some even using it as their country’s own legal tender. Still, this is not the only peg. Many countries peg to the Euro instead.
How Does a Country Rise to the Highest Currency Value in the World?
Although many economic factors influence the highest currency from other currencies, it is theoretically possible for any denomination to rise in value.
A country can change some factors, such as importing and exporting, by creating new economic policies. But it can’t change other things, such as stock market performance, because this is subject to geopolitical conditions or strong market forces. Other critical factors that can influence the monetary strength of a currency include employment rates, trade deficits, and foreign exchange reserves.
Despite numerous factors influencing a currency, a government only needs to focus on a small list of economic factors: interest rates, inflation, current account balance, and economic growth.
The value of a currency rises if the following occur:
- A country’s government increases the interest rate.
- A moderate bump of the rate of inflation (about 2% a year) will cause the currency to rise.
- Improved balance of trade, which is the total amount of income, currency transference, goods, and services in relation to other countries.
- Stimulated economic growth.
While we could classify these four economic factors as the primary drivers, governments can also raise the value of their currency by introducing policies that influence supply-side economics.
The benefits of such a move are enormous. It will increase competitiveness in the marketplace while reducing waste by forcing companies to streamline their costs of production. It also stimulates the growth of the export industry.
How Do Currency Markets Compare Money Between Countries?
Many currencies are pegged to the American dollar, which is the international reserve currency, to make it easier to compare the value of one currency to another.
We know, for instance, that the Kuwaiti dinar (KWD) is the highest currency value in the world because we can compare it to the United States Dollar (USD). If we use a currency converter, we will see that 1 Kuwaiti dinar (KWD) equals 3.29 United States dollars (USD). We also know that the Indian rupee is a much lower-value currency because 1 United States dollar equals 71.56 Indian rupees (INR).
Comparisons influence foreign exchange trading. For example, the Indian Rupee (INR) to Kuwaiti Dinar KWD exchange rate is a popular rate for traders in the currency markets because 1 Indian rupee equals 0.0042 Kuwaiti dinar.
Is a High-Value Currency a Good Thing for the Economy?
A government often has the power to create a strong currency. It can build its economy or adjust its monetary policy. A government can also use demonetization to limit the power of a black-market economy. For example, a government might withdraw a precious metal, note, or coin that serves as legal tender if it wants to curtail widespread monetary corruption.
If there are strategies to upgrade the value of money, why don’t the denominations of strong economies vie for the prestige of becoming the highest value currency?
The answer is complex. While some countries benefit from having a highly valued currency value, other countries benefit from a weaker currency.
The oil-rich countries of the Middle East, for instance, have the highest currency value. This is because crude oil is a scarce resource all over the world, except in the Persian Gulf countries, which have an abundance of oil. Since the high revenues are generated by crude oil sales, the Bahrain dinar (BHD), Omani rial (OMR), and Jordanian dinar (JOD) have the highest denomination currencies in the world.
Many countries benefit from a mid-value currency because a weaker currency helps their export industry. They can gain significant market share because their goods are cheaper to buy.
Countries with powerful economies could compete for the position of highest denomination currency, but it’s not beneficial for their economy to be stronger than the American dollar. For instance, the Turkish lira, the Japanese yen, the South African rand, the Brazilian real, the British pound sterling, the Polish zloty, the Mexican peso, and the European euro are close in value to the United States Dollar (USD), falling only a little below it.
However, a weak currency is not always a strategy to improve export revenues. Some, like the Nigerian naira or the Tanzanian shilling, are weak currencies because they have serious economic challenges.
How did Kuwait raise the value of its currency?
Kuwait is a classic example of a country that successfully reorganized its money. It raised the value of its national currency due to an economic crisis. In fact, it was so successful at doing this that it is now the highest currency in the world.
THE MOST VALUABLE CURRENCIES IN THE WORLD
Some of the most valuable currencies in 2019 may surprise you. Keep in mind, this list of the top ten most valuable currencies in the world keeps changing every year because of economic fluctuations and changes in government leaders and monetary policies.
Many countries that made it to the top ten in previous years have long since lost their coveted position as a top-rated global currency. For instance, the Australian dollar, with 1 AUD once being equal to 0.73 USD, is no longer on the list. Also removed is the Libyan dinar, with 1 LYD once being equal to 0.72 USD, as well as the Azerbaijani manat, with 1 AZN once being equal to 0.59 USD.
Sometimes, the reason a country is on the list is not immediately obvious. For example, how did a little-known country like Azerbaijan ever make it to the top ten list? It is not a prosperous country, a significant military power, or a rapidly emerging industrial nation. The reason this Central Asian country previously made the list is because it had a stable, strong economy, less tax evasion by the wealthiest corporations, and a low unemployment rate.
So many historical, economic, and political, factors go into determining the value of a currency. All one can say about why a currency has a high value is that a country has inflation under control. Nordic states, for example, have well-developed social systems that offer its citizenry excellent free education, free hospitals, fair working conditions, and unemployment benefits for the elderly. But despite having a stable economy, they are not on the list of top ten currencies.
Another factor to consider is that no currency constantly increases in value, even if it makes consistent economic gains. Japan, for example, has one of the most robust economies in the world, with the third biggest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the fourth largest purchasing power parity (PPP) — but the value of the Japanese yen remains small, with 1 Japanese yen equal to 0.0093 USD.
Does a currency of high value suggest a strong economy? Perhaps—but that might be an oversimplification. Yes, the value of a currency falls when a country is in crisis, but then again, countries with well-organized societies are not always at the top.