It's All About the Benjamins

What is currency?

Currency is any form of money or object used to exchange goods and services. It is usually tied to a governing body and can vary across countries. There are over 170 different currencies used around the world today.

Currency can be anything that both parties can value. Initially, society functioned on a barter system where people simply traded one good or service for another. For example, a farmer may trade a bushel of wheat to a tailor for a shirt. However, this system was very limited as supply and demand was not always consistent. Throughout the years, people have used various forms of currency including: salt, soap, cocoa, beans, tea, tobacco, seashells, feathers and cattle.

Different types

The two most common currencies:

  • the US dollar
  • the Euro

This is because these two currencies are major reserve currencies (currencies held by major financial institutions).

Usually, each country has its own currency; the Euro is an exception – it is the official currency of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union including: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, among other European countries.

Calculator: How fast can your money grow?

Here is a list of twenty countries and the different currencies they use:

International Currencies

The most valuable currency is the Kuwaiti dinar – one dinar is worth approximately $3.30. On the other end, the least valuable currency is the Iranian rial – 24,576 rial is worth approximately $1.

Here are the average lifespans of different bills according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing:

Life Span of U.S. Paper Money in Months

Fun facts:

  • Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.
  • The largest U.S. bill ever in circulation was the $10,000 bill, which was issued until 1945. As of May 30, 2009, only 336 of these large bills have been known to survive.
  • There is more money printed for Monopoly each year than there is real money around the world. f
  • Paper money is actually not printed on paper. It is a hybrid of cotton and linen.


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