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Burmese kyat (Myanmar) Monetary History

First kyat, 1852-1889

The kyat was a denomination of both silver and gold coinages in Burma until 1889. It was divided into 20 pe, each of 4 pya, with the mu and mat worth 2 and 4 pe, respectively. Nominally, 16 silver kyat equal 1 gold kyat. The silver kyat was equivalent to the Indian rupee, which replaced the kyat after Burma was conquered by the British.

Second kyat, 1943-1945

When the Japanese occupied Burma in 1942, they introduced a currency based on the rupee. This was replaced at par by the kyat in 1943. This kyat was subdivided into 100 cents. The kyat became worthless at the end of the war when the rupee was reintroduced.

Third kyat, 1952-

The present kyat was introduced on 1 July 1952. It replaced the rupee at par. Decimalization also took place, with the kyat subdivided into 100 pya.


First kyat

In 1852, Mindon, the second last king of Burma, established the Royal Mint in Mandalay (Central Burma). The dies were made in Paris. Silver coins were minted in denominations of 1 pe, 1 mu (2 pe), 1 mat (4 pe), 5 mu (10 pe) and 1 kyat, with gold 1 pe and 1 mu. The obverses bore the Royal Peacock Seal, from which the coins got their name. The reverse contained the denomination and mint date (in the Burmese era, which starts from AD 638). In the 1860s and 1870s, lead coins were issued for ⅛ and ¼ pya, with copper, brass, tin and iron ¼ pe (1 pya) and copper 2 pya. Further gold goins were issued in 1866 for 1 pe, 2½ mu and 1 kyat, with 5 mu issued in 1878.

Second kyat

No coins were issued for this currency.

Third kyat

In 1956, coins were introduced for 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 pyas and 1 kyat. The new coins bore the same obverse figure of the Chinthe from the Second kyat coins and the same reverse design, with the value of the coin in Myanmar writing and numerals surrounded by Myanmar flower designs.


First kyat

No paper money was issued for this currency.

Second kyat

The Burma State Bank issued notes for 1, 5, 10 and 100 kyat in 1944, followed by a further issue of 100 kyat notes in 1945.

Third kyat

In 1952, the Union Bank of Burma formed a Currency Board which took over control of the issuing of currency and a more important change to the currency was the introduction of the decimal system in which 1 kyat was decimalized into 100 pyas.[1] On February 12, 1958, the Union Bank of Burma introduced the first kyat notes, in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 kyats. These were very similar in design to the last series of rupee notes, issued earlier. Later on August 21, 1958, 20 and 50 kyats notes were introduced. The 50 and 100 kyat notes were demonetized on May 15, 1964. This was the first of several demonetizations, ostensibly carried out with the aim of fighting black marketeering. The Peoples Bank of Burma took over note production in 1965 with an issue of 1, 5, 10 and 20 kyat notes.

In 1972, the Union of Burma Bank took over note issuance, with notes introduced between 1972 and 1979 for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 kyats. The notes were printed by the Security Printing Works in Wazi, Upper Burma (established c. 1972) under the technical direction of the German firm Giesecke & Devrient. On November 3, 1985, the 25-, 50-, and 100-kyat notes were demonetized without warning, though the public was allowed to exchange limited amounts of the old notes for new ones. All other denominations then in circulation remained legal tender. On November 10, 1985, 75-kyat notes were introduced, the odd denomination possibly chosen because of dictator Ne Win's predilection for numerology; the 75-kyat note was supposedly introduced to commemorate his 75th birthday. It was followed by the introduction of 15- and 35-kyat notes on August 1, 1986.

Only two years later, on September 5, 1987, the government demonetized the 25-, 35-, and 75-kyat notes without warning or compensation, rendering some 75% of the country's currency worthless. The resulting economic disturbances led to serious riots (see 8888 Uprising) and eventually a coup d'état in 1988 by General Saw Maung. On September 22, 1987, banknotes for 45 and 90 kyat were introduced, both of which incorporated Ne Win's favorite number, nine.

Following the change of the country's name to Myanmar on June 20, 1989, new notes began to be issued. This time, the old notes were not demonetized, but simply allowed to fall into disuse through inflation as well as wear and tear. On March 1, 1990, 1-kyat notes were issued, followed by 200-kyat notes on March 27, 1990. On March 27, 1994, notes for 50 pya, 20, 50, 100, and 500 kyats were issued, followed, on May 1, 1995, by new 5- and 10-kyat notes. 1,000-kyat notes were introduced in November 1998.

In 2003, rumours of another pending demonetization swept through the country, resulting in the junta issuing official denials, but this time the demonetization did not materialize. In 2004, the sizes of the 200, 500, and 1,000 kyats were reduced in size (to make all Myanma banknotes uniform in size) but larger notes remain in circulation. 50 pya, 1, and 5 kyat banknotes are now rarely seen, because of their low value.

On October 1, 2009, 5,000-kyat banknotes were issued measuring 150 x 70 mm. Along the top front is written Central Bank of Myanmarr in Burmese, and in the center is a white elephant. On the back is a picture of the Central Bank of Myanmar with "FIVE THOUSAND KYATS 5000" written in English. This new denomination is five times larger than the previous largest denomination.[2] Public response has been mixed, with some welcoming a higher value note reducing the number of banknotes which need to be carried. Other responses have suggested a widespread fear that this will simply fuel the current rate of inflation, which was supported by a jump in the blackmarket exchange rates following the public announcement of this change.[3][4]

On the 9th of June, 2012, the Central Bank announced that 10,000-kyat notes would be introduced into the circulation to better facilitate financial transactions in a largely cash-oriented economy. They were issued on June 15, 2012.[5][6]

Ever since the Third Kyat was introduced, the Myanmar currency has no indication of the date in which the note came into circulation nor the signature of the issuing authority.

History of Kyat Bank Notes

Under section 8(a) of the Central Bank of Myanmar Law, The Central Bank of Myanmar is assigned to act as the sole issuer of the domestic currency either bank notes or coins. As the monetary authority its the central Bank of Myanmar formulate and implements monetary policy, with the aim to preserve the value of the Myanmar currency and to promote efficient payments mechanisms..

Before Myanmar gained independence from the British, Myanmar was one of the states of India. At that time the Myanmar currency was rupee. Both Burmese and Indian rupees were linked to the Sterling and worth one shilling and sixpence.

The First Schedule of the Currency and Coinage Act of 1946 provided for an issue of 1,5,10,100 rupees currency notes and the Second Schedule for the Board to issue its own coins of 20 and 50 rupees. The notes were to have a peacock watermark, and to be authenticated by the Chairman of the Board. The reverses illustrated various national occupations, with GOVERNMENT OF BURMA in English and marked BURMA CURRENCY LEGAL TENDER IN BURMA ONLY.

When Burma gained independence from the British, it became a republic and the heading on the note was changed to GOVERNMENT OF THE UNION OF BURMA. As the Burma Currency Board notes increased in number, it was decided to demonetize all those India notes marked “ Legal Tender in Burma Only “ from 1st July 1948. All denominations of coins were released into circulation on 20th July 1950.

With the passage of the Union Bank of Burma Act, 1952, the sole right of currency issued was transferred from the Burma Currency Board to a newly created Currency Department of the Union Bank of Burma with effect from 1st July 1952. The Burma Currency Board was abolished and its asset and liabilities were transferred to the Union Bank of Burma. Another important change in the new currency is the conversion to a decimal system.

Coins were made in nickel; denominations of ½ , 1,2,4 and 8 pe and all had the Chinthe (lion) on the obverse, with vale and AD date in wreath on the reverse. But ½ , 1,2 pe coins were demonetized 1st November 1953. Moreover, the English name for the unit of currency was changed to kyat and decimalized into 100 pyas in 1952. Previously, one rupee was equivalent to16 pe (64 pyas). When the unit of currency was changed one kyat was equivalent to 100 pyas.

When the Union Bank of Burma took over the central bank’s responsibilities, a token issue of the bank notes was made on 1st July 1952. As already explained, the new bank notes had the rupee denominations (1,5,10,100 rupees) that was later connected to kyat. It included peacock water mark. The second issue of bank notes was made in 1958, all with a portrait of Aung San with a peaked cap. The 1,5,10 and 100 kyat were introduced on 12th February 1958 (Union Day), and the 20 and 50 kyat on 21st August. This was the first issue of 20 and 50 kyat notes made for Burma.

The decimal series of coins order from the Royal Mint constituted of 1,5,10,25,50 pyas and 1 kyat. Those coins have more inscriptions but the Burmese Lion or Chinthe remains. A start was made at putting them into circulation on 1st October 1952 with the 5 and 10 pyas.

When the revolutionary government took power, it was announced that the high denominations 50 and 100 kyat notes would no longer be legal tender from 17th May 1964 and the new People’s Bank of Burma notes of 1,5,10 and 20 kyats were issued on 30th April 1965, with a portrait of Aung San from his wartime army days. 20 kyats note issued in 1958 and 1964 was demonetized on 3rd November 1985. The existing notes were to be legal tender until they had been withdrawn from circulation.

On 30th September 1972 the People’s Bank was renamed the Union of Burma Bank and 25 kyats were issued. All denominations of coins of the former Union Bank of Burma continued to be legal tender at the time of the 25 kyats note issue. New 1 kyat notes followed on 30th December 1972to circulate alongside People’s Bank 1 kyat and on 30th June 1973 the 10 kyats notes was issued. The 5 kyats note appeared on 31st October 1973, to circulate alongside People’s Bank and Union Bank 5 kyats notes. Union of Burma Bank issued and released in circulation 100 Kyats note on 17th April 1976, 50 Kyats on 30th April 1979, 75 Kyats on 11th November 1985 and 35 Kyats on 1st August 1986 respectively. Moreover, the Union of Burma Bank issued 45 kyats note and 90 kyats note in 22nd September 1987. 100 Kyats note issued in 1952 was demonetized on 17th May 1964. 100 Kyats that issued in 1976 and 50 Kyats issued in 1975 were demonetized on 3rd November 1985. Kyats 25, 35 and 75 notes were also withdrawn from circulation on 5th September 1987.

During 1979 an F.A.O (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) 50 pyas also appeared, as well as 50 kyats note. Both the F.A.O coins are reported to have been minted at Security Printing Works Factory.

After the State Laws and Order Restoration Council took power in 1988, the Central Bank of Myanmar issued Lion series and Aung San series was replaced by gradually. Denominations are 1,5,10,20,50,100,200,500 and 1000 kyats notes and 1,5,10,50 and 100 kyats coins. The color of the 1 kyat coin is bronze color, the 5 and 10 kyats coins are golden yellow color and the 50 and 100 kyats coins are silver color respectively on 1st October 2009 Central Bank of Myanmar issued new currency notes of 5000 kyats to easier handling for the people.


According to Myanmar Directory, which provides accurate estimates of the black market (street rate, and hence unofficial), are as follows:

  • 1 USD = K 1280 Rates are as of 15 February 2007
  • 1 USD = K 1350 Rates are as of 21 September 2007
  • 1 USD = K 1325 Rates are as of 15 October 2007
  • 1 USD = K 1100 Rates are as of 14 March 2008
  • 1 USD = K 1240 Rates are as of 21 October 2008
  • 1 USD = K 1130 Rates are as of 1 August 2009
  • 1 USD = K 960 Rates are as of 20 November 2009
  • 1 USD = K 1040 Rates are as of 21 January 2010
  • 1 USD = K 890 Rates are as of 22 October 2010
  • 1 USD = K 830 Rates are as of 12 January 2011
  • 1 USD = K 823 Rates are as of 11 May 2011
  • 1 USD = K 752 Rates are as of 10 August 2011


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