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A Complete Guide to International Currencies

Updated on July 05, 2023 11:23 am
different world currencies

Whether it’s for conducting cross-border business, managing personal finances during travel, or analyzing global economic trends, an understanding of international currencies is essential for making sound financial decisions and thriving in an interconnected global economy.

If you are a globetrotter seeking new adventures, a savvy investor navigating the global market, or simply an inquisitive mind fascinated by the intricacies of the financial systems, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of international currencies, their characteristics, and the current state of the top international currencies.

Central to our exploration of international currencies is the concept of exchange rates. We will also delve into how exchange rates work and the factors influencing them.

Let’s unravel the mysteries of international currencies, connecting us all through the language of money.

What is a Currency?

A currency is a form of money used in a specific country or region as a medium of exchange for goods, services, and investments. Each currency is represented by a unique code, which helps distinguish it from other currencies. For instance, the United States dollar is denoted as USD, the euro as EUR, and the British pound as GBP.

What are International Currencies?

International currencies are monetary units that are widely accepted and used for transactions across national borders. They serve as a medium of exchange, facilitating trade, investment, and financial transactions between countries.  

These currencies are typically issued and regulated by sovereign nations or groups of countries and they are accepted beyond their country of origin due to factors such as economic stability, geopolitical influence, and international trade relationships.

Major international currencies, often referred to as reserve currencies, such as the US Dollar and the Euro are held in substantial quantities by central banks around the world to support international transactions and maintain financial stability. Other major international currencies include the British pound (GBP), Japanese yen (JPY), Swiss franc (CHF), Canadian dollar (CAD), Australian dollar (AUD), and New Zealand dollar (NZD).

Some notable examples of international currencies include the Brazil currency ( Brazilian Real), Korean currency (Korean Won), Thailand currency (Thai Baht), Turkey currency (Turkish Lira), Vietnam currency (Vietnamese Dong), Poland currency (Polish Zloty), Sweden currency (Swedish Krona), Denmark currency (Danish Krone), Indonesia currency (Indonesian Rupiah), Singapore currency (Singapore Dollar), Czech currency (Czech Koruna), South Korea currency (KRW), Egyptian currency (Egyptian Pound), Swiss currency (Swiss Franc), Hong Kong Dollar, Malaysia currency (Malaysian Ringgit), and Israel currency (Israeli Shekel)

These currencies represent various economies with unique characteristics and are actively traded in the global foreign exchange market. Exchange rates for these currencies fluctuate based on economic factors, market conditions, and geopolitical events, shaping their values relative to other currencies.

List of International Currencies

international currencies

Top 10 Strongest Currencies as of June 2023

The US dollar is generally seen as the most powerful currency in the world and certainly the most traded currency in the global financial market. The USD is also the largest reserve currency in the world. However, the greenback is not the strongest of the fiat currencies recognized as legal tender worldwide.

Based on their relative value against the US dollar, here are the top 10 strongest currencies in the world as of June 2023.

top currencies

How Do Exchange Rates Work?

The exchange rates are the rates at which one currency can be exchanged for another. In other words, they represent the ratio between two currencies and determine the price at which one currency can be bought or sold in relation to another.

Exchange rates are quoted in currency pairs, such as USD/EUR or GBP/JPY, indicating how much of one currency is required to purchase one unit of the other currency.

Understanding exchange rates is crucial for sending money abroad, making investment decisions, and managing currency risk management. They reflect the economic factors and market forces influencing the demand and supply of a currency.

Types of Exchange Rates

Exchange rates can be classified into two categories:

  • Fixed
  • Floating

Fixed and floating exchange rates are two different systems used to determine the value of one currency in relation to another.

Fixed Exchange Rates

In a fixed exchange rate system, the value of a currency is set and maintained at a fixed rate against another currency or a basket of currencies. This rate is typically established and controlled by a country's central bank or monetary authority. Governments may choose to fix their currency to another currency, such as the U.S. dollar, or a commodity like gold.

An example of a fixed exchange rate is that of the Chinese Yuan (CNY). The People's Bank of China (PBOC) maintains a fixed exchange rate for the CNY against a basket of currencies, with the U.S. dollar being the predominant reference. The PBOC intervenes in the foreign exchange market to manage fluctuations and keep the exchange rate within a predetermined range.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Fixed Exchange Rates

The advantages of fixed exchange rates include stability and predictability in international trade and investment. They can promote confidence in a country's currency and reduce currency risk for businesses engaged in cross-border transactions.

However, maintaining a fixed exchange rate requires significant intervention by the central bank and limits its flexibility to respond to economic changes.

Floating Exchange Rates

In a floating exchange rate system, currency values are determined by market forces of supply and demand. The exchange rate fluctuates freely based on factors such as interest rates, inflation, economic performance, political stability, and market sentiment. Governments do not actively intervene to control or fix the exchange rate.

For example, the United States has a floating exchange rate system, where the value of the U.S. dollar is determined by market forces of supply and demand. The Federal Reserve influences interest rates and monetary policy but does not actively intervene to fix the exchange rate.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Floating Exchange Rates

Floating exchange rates provide flexibility for currencies to adjust based on market conditions, allowing them to find their equilibrium levels. This system allows for automatic adjustments to external shocks and economic imbalances. However, floating exchange rates can be volatile, which introduces uncertainty for international trade and investment, as exchange rates can vary significantly over time.

Mixed Exchange Rate System

It's worth noting that countries can choose to switch between fixed and floating exchange rate systems depending on their economic policies and objectives.

Many countries today adopt a mixed exchange rate system, also called managed float system, that combines elements of both fixed and floating systems. In this system, the exchange rate is influenced or guided by government intervention to avoid extreme fluctuations. This approach aims to strike a balance between stability and flexibility.

For example, India follows a managed floating exchange rate system. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) actively manages the Indian rupee (INR) against a basket of currencies, primarily focusing on the U.S. dollar. The RBI intervenes in the foreign exchange market to smoothen excessive volatility and maintain orderly conditions.

Factors Influencing Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are influenced by a variety of factors, including the supply and demand for currencies in the foreign exchange market. Economic indicators, such as inflation rates, interest rates, trade balances, and political stability, can impact the demand for a currency and consequently affect its exchange rate.

Exchange rates are also influenced by market speculation and government interventions, as central banks may adjust interest rates or engage in currency market operations to influence the value of their currency.

These factors can be summarized as follows:

  • Supply and Demand: Like any other commodity, the value of a currency is influenced by the forces of supply and demand. If the demand for a currency is high relative to its supply, its value typically increases. Conversely, if the supply of a currency outweighs the demand, its value may decrease.
  • Economic Factors: Economic indicators, such as interest rates, inflation, GDP growth, employment data, and trade balances, can significantly impact exchange rates. Stronger economic performance often attracts foreign investment and boosts demand for a currency, leading to appreciation: Strong economic growth, trade surpluses, and low unemployment rates can contribute to currency appreciation.
  • Interest Rates: Higher interest rates in a country can attract foreign investors seeking better returns, increasing demand for the currency and potentially strengthening its value. At the same time, lower interest rates may discourage foreign investment and lead to currency depreciation.
  • Inflation: Countries with higher inflation rates tend to experience currency depreciation as the purchasing power of the currency diminishes. On the other hand, countries with lower inflation rates may witness currency appreciation.
  • Balance of Trade: A positive balance, with exports exceeding imports, boosts foreign currency reserves, allowing a country to lower interest rates, spur economic growth, and fortify its currency exchange rate.
  • Public Debt: Public debt and its potential inflationary impact, as well as its deterrent effect on foreign investment, can devalue a currency.
  • Current Account Deficit: The current account deficit is interconnected with the balance of trade, and arises when a country's expenses surpass its earnings. A greater current account deficit relative to a trading partner can diminish a country's currency value compared to that partner's currency.
  • Political Stability: Political stability fosters investor confidence, attracts foreign capital, and strengthens a currency.
  • Market Sentiment and Geopolitical Factors: Political stability, geopolitical tensions, and investor confidence are just a few examples of the factors that can affect market sentiment and, consequently, exchange rates. Positive sentiment can lead to currency appreciation, while negative sentiment can result in depreciation.
  • Government Interventions: Governments possess a range of methods to manage their currency exchange rates. These strategies include adjusting interest rates, purchasing or selling foreign currency, influencing lending rates, printing money, and implementing additional measures. These interventions are typically done to maintain stability, support economic objectives, or address extreme fluctuations.

Do Exchange Rates Matter When Sending Money Abroad?

Yes. Exchange rates matter when sending money abroad. Being aware of exchange rates and seeking favorable rates can help ensure that you, as a sender, maximize the value of your transfer and provide your recipient with the most beneficial outcome.

Top reasons why exchange rates matter when sending money abroad include:

Value of the Transfer: Exchange rates determine the conversion of one currency to another. When sending money abroad, the exchange rate determines how much of the sender's currency will be converted into the recipient's cash. A favorable exchange rate can result in the recipient receiving more funds, while an unfavorable exchange rate can reduce the value of the transfer.

Cost of the Transfer: Exchange rates impact sending money abroad. If the exchange rate is unfavorable, it means that the sender's currency will have a lower value when converted to the recipient's currency. As a result, the sender may need to transfer a larger amount of their currency to achieve the desired value in the recipient's currency, resulting in higher transfer costs.

Timing of the Transfer: Exchange rates are subject to fluctuations due to various economic and market factors. The timing of the money transfer can significantly impact the exchange rate obtained. By monitoring exchange rate movements, the sender can choose a favorable time to initiate the transfer and potentially optimize the value of the transfer.

Cost Comparisons: Different service providers offer varying exchange rates for currency conversions. Comparing exchange rates among different providers can help the sender find the most favorable rate, allowing for more value to be transferred to the recipient.

How to Send Money Abroad

Sending money abroad involves several steps to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.

Research Transfer Methods

There are different methods for sending money abroad, such as bank transfers, online payment platforms, or remittance services. You can compare fees, exchange rates, and delivery options to choose the most suitable method for your needs.

Collect Recipient Information

Collect the necessary information from the recipient, including their full name, contact details, and bank account information. Ensure you have accurate and complete details to avoid any delays or errors in the transfer.

Choose a Service Provider

Select a reputable service provider or institution to facilitate the money transfer. Consider factors such as fees, exchange rates, transfer speeds, and customer reviews when making your choice. Specialized money transfer companies are better than banks or other financial institutions, as they tend to have higher transfer costs, slower transfer speeds, and hidden fees.

Initiate the Transfer

Provide the required information to the service provider, including your details, the recipient's information, and the amount you wish to send. Double-check all details for accuracy before proceeding.

Pay for the Transfer

Follow the instructions provided by the service provider to pay for the transfer. This can usually be done through various methods such as bank transfers, credit/debit cards, or online payment platforms. Ensure you understand the fees and any additional charges associated with the payment.

Confirm and Track the Transfer

After initiating the transfer and making the payment, the service provider will provide you with a confirmation or transaction reference number. Keep this information safe and use it to track the progress of the transfer. Most service providers offer tracking options to monitor the transfer's status.

Notify the Recipient

Inform the recipient that you have sent them money and provide any necessary transaction details or reference numbers they may need to receive the funds. Advise them to monitor their account for the incoming transfer.

Conclusion

Understanding international currencies and exchange rates is important for anyone engaging in global transactions. Having a comprehensive knowledge of different currencies and their dynamics will empower you to navigate the complexities of the global economy more effectively.

It is advisable to compare the available options before finalizing your decision when sending money overseas. While banks may seem convenient for international transfers, specialized money transfer providers offer superior exchange rates, transparent and affordable fees, and speed. 

Use the CompareRemit compare tool to view today's best exchange rates when sending money overseas!

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However, many states have laws that require some form of written pay statement.Even if your state doesn't need you to provide pay stubs, you are still required by the Fair Labour Standards Act to keep track of your employees' working hours.For employees, a pay stub gives a record of their wages, deductions, contributions, and other information. It is also proof of income or employment, which is often needed when applying for a loan, credit card, or housing.For employers, a pay stub is useful for tax purposes, and it can be used to resolve any discrepancies with employee pay.Is it Possible for Paycards to be Overdrafted?Usually, paycards works like debit card, allowing cardholders to withdraw up to the limit of the loaded amount. However, there are paycard that allows overdraft for employees. But it can come with hefty overdraft fees if employees use funds over the limit in their account. Usually, you should be able to prevent misuse by subscribing to an overdraft protection service.Will Paycard Affect Credit Score?Paycards, like all prepaid cards, do not affect an employee's credit score.What is a Paycard Gets Lost or Stolen?A replacement card can be issued in such cases. The employee needs to notify the employer, and then the employer should immediately notify the card issuer. The employee is not liable for the incident as long as the issue is timely reported. Paycards come with similar protection as that of a prepaid card.The reporting time is determined by the card issuer. If you wait longer to report after learning of the loss and theft, the fraudulent charges may increase. You may have to pay a fee for the replacement card.Pros and Cons of PaycardsProsA win-win situation for unbanked employees and their employers.Green alternative to paper checks.Immediate payment to employees.No hassle of cashing a paycheck.No monthly or maintenance fees.Added security when assessing their funds (paycards require a PIN).Employees can report to the issuer if funds are used unauthorized.Paycards can be reloaded during each payday, saving money on issuing paper checks.Added efficiency for the employer as the employer would not have to physically present or mail paychecks to unbanked employees.ConsEmployees may incur fees for several reasons. Be aware of such potential fees.Employers have certain responsibilities to educate employees about the usage of paycards.Limited range of services and flexibility in managing your funds compared to bank accounts and other prepaid cards.The best paycards programs are easy to set up, have lower fees, quick access to funds, and provide a range of benefits such as cashback and discounts. We have made a list of popular paycards providers for businesses:Wisely Paycard by ADPOnline portal and mobile appCompatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google PayZero cost sign upNo hidden feesNo credit checkNo overdraft feeZero cost direct deposit of pay and other sources of income (including government benefits)Accepted wherever Visa is acceptedKeep track of spending and account balances 24/7 on the appGet cash back at major retailersSurcharge-free ATM withdrawalsFDIC insuredSecurity features include instant card lock, purchase protection, and travel alert notificationsRapid PaycardDirect Deposit onto rapid paycardLoad funds from approved checks with Ingo Money mobile appsNo fee for cashing paycheck24/7 account access with rapid! Access mobile appNo credit checkCan be used at ATMs, merchants worldwide, wherever Debit Mastercard or Visa debit cards are acceptedPay bills and make purchasesBook airline and hotel reservations onlineEarn interest on savings accountGet cash back rewardsFDIC insuredMoney protected with Zero Fraud LiabilityKittrell PaycardNo fees to use (there are fees for certain situations)Fee-free ATM network with MoneyPassWebsite and Kittreall AppGet real-time alerts and push notificationsCash back at point-of-sale terminals2-way texting to manage your card and accountCompatible with Apple Wallet, Google Pay, Samsung PayEasy portability (Get direct deposit of stimulus checks, tax refund, benefits)Freeze or unfreeze card on-demandSkylight PaycardZero sign up feeNo credit checkNo minimum balance Personalized your card with a family photo or unique imageManage money anywhere on Mobile AppDirect deposit your government benefits, tax refundsUse anywhere where Visa Debit & Debit Mastercard are acceptedFDIC insuredZero liability protectionPay bills onlineEarn interest on savings accountEarn cash back with Payback RewardsSend money to or receive money from friends and family with Netspend cardsSet text alerts about transactionsRefer a friend and boost your card balanceSkylight overdraft limit is $100 & 3 times/ monthConclusionOverall, paycards can be convenient and cost-effective for employees and employees when compared to paychecks or for those employees with no bank account. And the paycard fees are becoming more transparent and competitive.While paycards can be challenging at times, especially when you are employed in multiple jobs and have a separate paycard with each employer, your funds are scattered in multiple cards so it becomes difficult to manage your finances. Some may prefer to put all their money in one place, like a checking account.However, if you can't open a bank account, a paycard is a great option to get paid. Read the fine prints before signing up for a paycard and know the potential fees that come with it.

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