Hong Kong dollar
The Hong Kong dollar (Chinese: 港元; Cantonese Yale: Góng yùn; sign: HK$; code: HKD) is the official currency of Hong Kong . It is subdivided into 100 cents. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is the governmental currency board and also the de facto central bank for Hong Kong and the Hong Kong dollar.
|Hong Kong dollar|
Hong Kong dollar (English)
|1⁄10||毫 (hòu) (Chinese)|
10 cents (English)
|1⁄100||仙 (sīn) (Chinese)|
|Plural||dollars (English only)|
| 仙 (sīn) (Chinese)|
|cents (English only)|
|Symbol||"$", "HK$" or "元"|
|Banknotes||$10, $20, $50, $100, $500, $1,000|
|Coins||10¢, 20¢, 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10|
|Monetary authority||Hong Kong Monetary Authority|
|Printer||Issuing banks and authority:|
Hong Kong Note Printing
|Inflation||1.7%, Jan 2018 est.|
|Pegged with||US dollar (USD) |
$1 USD = HK$7.80
|Pegged by||Macau pataca (MOP$) |
HK$1 = MOP$1.03
|Hong Kong dollar|
|Cantonese Yale||Góng yùn|
|Literal meaning||(Hong) Kong dollar|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Cantonese Yale||Góng bàih|
Under the licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, three commercial banks are licensed to issue their own banknotes for general circulation in Hong Kong. The three commercial banks, HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered issue their own designs of banknotes in denominations of HK$20, HK$50, HK$100, HK$500 and HK$1000, with all designs being similar to one another in the same denomination of banknote. However, the HK$10 banknote and all coins are issued by the Government of Hong Kong.
As of April 2019, the Hong Kong dollar is the ninth most traded currency in the world. Apart from its use in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong dollar is also used in neighbouring Macau, where the Hong Kong dollar circulates alongside the Macau pataca.
|Economy of Hong Kong|
|Other Hong Kong topics|
|Hong Kong Portal|
When Hong Kong was established as a free trading port in 1841, there was no local currency in everyday circulation. Foreign currencies such as Indian rupees, Spanish and Mexican 8 reales, and Chinese cash coins circulated. Since 1825, it had been the policy of the British government to introduce sterling silver coinage to all of its colonies, and to this end, in 1845 the Spanish and Mexican 8 reales coins were set at a legal tender value of 4 shillings, 2 pence sterling (£5⁄24). But just as in the case of the British North American colonies, the attempts to introduce the sterling coinage failed to overcome the strong local adherence to the silver Spanish dollar system.
By 1858, the British government gave up all attempts to influence the currency situation in Canada, and by the 1860s it came to the same realisation in Hong Kong: that there was no point in trying to displace an already existing currency system. In 1863, the Royal Mint in London began issuing special subsidiary coinage for use in Hong Kong within the dollar system. In 1866, a local mint was established at Cleveland Street in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island for the purpose of minting Hong Kong silver dollar and half dollar coins of the same value and similar likeness to their Mexican counterparts. The Chinese did not however receive these new Hong Kong dollars well, and in 1868 the Hong Kong Mint was closed down with a loss of $440,000. The machinery at the Hong Kong mint was sold first to Jardine Matheson and in turn to the Japanese and used to make the first Yen coins in 1870. In the 1860s, banknotes of the new British colonial banks, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, denominated in dollars, also began to circulate in both Hong Kong and the wider region.
In 1873, the international silver crisis resulted in a devaluation of silver against gold-based currencies. Since the silver dollars in the US and Canada were attached to a gold exchange standard, this meant that the silver dollars circulating along the China coast dropped in value as compared to the US dollar and the Canadian dollar.
By 1895, the circumstances had changed to the extent that there was now a dearth of Mexican dollars and the authorities in both Hong Kong and the Straits Settlements were putting pressure on the authorities in London to take measures to have a regular supply of silver dollar coins. London eventually acquiesced and legislation was enacted in attempts to regulate the coinage. New British trade dollars were coined at the mints in Calcutta and Bombay for use in both Hong Kong and the Straits Settlements. In 1906, the Straits Settlements issued their own silver dollar coin and attached it to a gold sterling exchange standard at a fixed value of 2 shillings and 4 pence. This was the point of departure as between the Hong Kong unit and the Straits unit.
By 1935, only Hong Kong and China remained on the silver standard. In that year, Hong Kong, shortly after China, abandoned silver and introduced a crawling peg to sterling of £1 = HK$15.36 to HK$16.45. It was from this point in time that the concept of a Hong Kong dollar as a distinct unit of currency came into existence. The One-Dollar Currency Note Ordinance of that year led to the introduction of one-dollar notes by the government and the government acknowledged the Hong Kong dollar as the local monetary unit. It was not until 1937 that the legal tender of Hong Kong was finally unified. In 1939, the Hong Kong dollar was put on a fixed peg of HK$16 = £1 ($1 = 1s 3d).
During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese military yen were the only means of everyday exchange in Hong Kong. When the yen was first introduced on 26 December 1941, the exchange rate was ¥1 yen = HK$2. However, in August 1942, the rate was changed to HK$4 to ¥1 yen. The yen became the only legal tender on 1 June 1943. The issue of local currency was resumed by the Hong Kong government and the authorised local banks after liberation, with the pre-war rate of HK$16 = £1 being restored. The yen was exchanged at a rate of ¥100 = HK$1. On 6 September 1945, all military yen notes used in Japanese colonies were declared void by the Japanese Ministry of Finance.
In 1967, when sterling was devalued, the dollar's peg to the pound was increased from 1s 3d to 1s 4 1⁄2d ($14.5455 = £1) although this did not entirely offset the devaluation. In 1972, the Hong Kong dollar was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of HK$5.65 = US$1. This was revised to HK$5.085 = US$1 in 1973. Between 1974 and 1983, the Hong Kong dollar floated. On 17 October 1983, the currency was pegged at a rate of HK$7.8 = US$1, through the currency board system.
As of 18 May 2005, in addition to the lower guaranteed limit, a new upper guaranteed limit was set for the Hong Kong dollar at HK$7.75 to the US dollar. The lower limit has been lowered from 7.80 to 7.85 (by 100 pips per week from 23 May to 20 June 2005). The Hong Kong Monetary Authority indicated this move is to narrow the gap between the interest rates in Hong Kong and those of the United States. A further aim of allowing the Hong Kong dollar to trade in a range is to avoid the HK dollar being used as a proxy for speculative bets on a renminbi revaluation.
The Basic Law of Hong Kong and the Sino-British Joint Declaration provides that Hong Kong retains full autonomy with respect to currency issuance. Currency in Hong Kong is issued by the government and three local banks (HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered) under the supervision of the territory's de facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Banknotes are printed by Hong Kong Note Printing Limited.
A bank can issue a Hong Kong dollar only if it has the equivalent exchange in US dollars on deposit. The currency board system ensures that Hong Kong's entire monetary base is backed with US dollars at the linked exchange rate. The resources for the backing are kept in Hong Kong's exchange fund, which is among the largest official reserves in the world. Hong Kong also has huge deposits of US dollars, with official foreign currency reserves of US$361 billion as of March 2016.
|Chinese||Yale (Cantonese)||Pinyin (Mandarin)||English|
|Formal currency name||港元 / 港幣||góng yùn / góng bàih||gǎngyuán / gǎngbì||Hong Kong dollar|
|Formal unit name :1
Formal unit name :1⁄10
Formal unit name :1⁄100
|元 or 圓
|Other unit names :1
Other unit names :1⁄10
Other unit names :1⁄100
In formal Cantonese, the 圓 or 元 (Cantonese Yale: yùn) character is used. In informal Cantonese, 蚊 (Cantonese Yale: mān) is used. The use of the character 蚊 (mān) originate from the tone change of the currency denomination used in China in imperial times 文 (Cantonese Yale: màn), which was the chief denomination until the introduction of the yuan in the late 19th century.
The dollar is divided into 100 cents, with the character 仙 (Cantonese Yale: sīn, a transliteration of “cent”) used on coins and in informal Cantonese. However, 仙 is now only used in the stock market, as now it no longer has a note or coin form due to its small value, and is no longer used in regular cash transactions. The amount of 10 cents is called 1 hou (毫) in Cantonese .
To express prices in informal Cantonese, for example HK$7.80, the phrase is 七個八 (Cantonese Yale: chāt go baat; literally: 'seven units eight'); in financial terms, where integer values in cents exist, e.g., HK$6.75, the phrase is 六個七毫半 (Cantonese Yale: luhk go chāt hòu bun; literally: 'six units and seven dime half'; fives in cents is normally expressed as “half”, unless followed by another five, such as 55 cents when preceded by a dollar value); $7.08 is 七蚊零八仙 (Cantonese Yale: chāt mān lìng baat sīn; literally: 'seven dollars zero eight cents').
In Hong Kong, the following are slang terms used to refer to various amounts of money:
|Chinese name||Cantonese Yale Romanization||Value||Meaning|
|辰砂||sànsā||cents||Rarely used; lit. cinnabar, ground (therefore small-size) which is used in Chinese medicine|
|斗零||dáulíng||5¢ coins||lit.'’ dram; the weight of the coin, approximately 1.37 g; 5¢ is no longer in circulation|
|大餅||daaihbéng||$1||lit. big cracker; refers to its circular shape|
|草／兜／條||chóu/dāu/tíu||$10||lit. grass/bowl/stripe; slang terms|
|青蟹||chēngháaih||$10||lit. green crab; refers to the colour of the old style banknotes|
|花蟹／公仔紙||fāháaih / gōngjáijí||$10||lit. flowery crab, colourful paper; refers to the colour of the new style banknotes|
|䊆糈／嚿水||gauhséui||$100||lit. a lump of water; “water" stands for money in Cantonese|
|紅底／紅衫魚||hùngdái / hùngsāamyú||$100||lit. red underwear, red snapper; refers to the red colour of the notes|
|大牛||daaihngàu||$500||lit. big bull; refers to a picture of a bull on the note in pre-war|
|金牛||gāmngàu||$1,000||lit. golden bull; refers to the gold colour of the notes|
|棟||dung||$1,000||lit. building; uncommon slang term|
|皮||pèi||$10,000||lit. skin; slang term|
|雞嘢||gāiyéh||$10,000||lit. chicken stuff; uncommon slang term, can also mean $1|
|餅||béng||$10,000||lit. cracker; uncommon slang term|
|球||kàu||$1,000,000||lit. ball; slang term, usually used in buying stocks|
Some of these terms are also used by overseas Chinese to refer their local currency. A slang term in English sometimes used for the Hong Kong dollar is "Honkie".
In 1863, 1-mil (1⁄10-cent), 1-cent and 10-cent coins were introduced, followed in 1866 by 5- and 20- cents, half-dollar and 1-dollar. The 1-mil and 1-cent were struck in bronze, with the 1 mil a holed coin. The remaining coins were struck in silver. Production of the 1-mil ended in 1866, whilst that of the half-dollar and 1-dollar ceased in 1868, with only the half-dollar (now with the denomination given as 50 cents) resuming production in 1890. Production of all silver coins was suspended in 1905, only briefly resumed in 1932 and 1933 for the production of 5-cent coins.
In 1934, the last 1-cent coins were issued, but the last minting was 1941. These were not issued because the Japanese sank a ship carrying 1-cent coins bound for Hong Kong in the Second World War. The following year (1935), cupro-nickel 5 and 10 cents were introduced, replaced by nickel in 1937 and nickel-brass between 1948 and 1949. Copper-nickel 50 cents were issued in 1951 and first bore the name "fifty cents" in both Chinese and English, but these were changed to nickel-brass in 1977.
In 1960, cupro-nickel 1-dollar coins were introduced, these were then reduced in size in 1978. They were followed in 1975 by nickel-brass 20 cents and cupro-nickel 2-dollar (both scallop shaped), and in 1976 by decagonal, cupro-nickel 5-dollar coin, changed to a round thicker shape in 1980. The 5-cent coin was last issued in 1979, but last struck in 1988. In 1994, a bimetallic 10-dollar coin was introduced.
Starting in 1993, prior to the establishment of the HKSAR, coins with Queen Elizabeth II's portrait were gradually withdrawn from circulation. Most of the notes and coins in circulations feature Hong Kong's Bauhinia flower or other symbols. Coins with the Queen's portrait are still legal tender and can be seen, but these are slowly being phased out. However, most still remain in legal tender and are in circulation. Because the redesign was highly sensitive with regard to political and economic reasons, the designing process of the new coins could not be entrusted to an artist but was undertaken by Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, himself who found in the bauhinia the requested "politically neutral design" and did a secret "scissors and paste job".
In 1997, to commemorate Hong Kong's transfer of sovereignty from Britain to the PRC, the government issued a new commemorative coin set which depicted Chinese cultural themes and Hong Kong's landmarks and 19 and 97, marking the year 1997, on each side of the designs.
The issue of Hong Kong dollar notes is governed today by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the governmental currency board of Hong Kong. Under licence from the HKMA, three commercial banks issue their own banknotes for general circulation in the region. They are Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited; the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited; and the Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited. Notes are also issued by the HKMA itself. In most countries of the world the issue of banknotes is handled exclusively by a single central bank or government. The arrangements in Hong Kong are unusual but not unique; a comparable system is used in the United Kingdom, where seven banks issue banknotes.
As of today, the three commercial banks, HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered issue their own designs of banknotes in denominations of HK$20, HK$50, HK$100, HK$500 and HK$1000, with all designs being similar to the other in the same denomination of banknote. While only the HK$10 banknote is issued solely by Hong Kong Monetary Authority on behalf of the Government of Hong Kong, which in total makes up the banknote circulation arrangement to four different note issuers.
In 1845, the first private bank, the Oriental Bank, was founded. However, banknotes were not produced until the 1860s, when the Oriental Bank, the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company began issuing notes. Denominations issued in the 1860s and 1870s included 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 and 500 dollars. These notes were not accepted by the Treasury for payment of government dues and taxes, although they were accepted for use by merchants. 25 dollar notes did not survive beyond the end of the 19th century, whilst the 1-dollar notes (only produced by the HSBC) were issued until 1935.
Under the Currency Ordinance of 1935, banknotes in denominations of 5 dollars and above issued by the three authorised local banks, the Mercantile Bank of India Limited, the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, were all declared legal tender. The government took over production of 1 dollar notes. In 1941, the government introduced notes for 1, 5 and 10 cents due to the difficulty of transporting coins to Hong Kong caused by the Second World War (a ship carrying 1941 1-cent coins was sunk, making this unissued coin very rare). Just before the Japanese occupation, an emergency issue of 1 dollar notes was made consisting of overprinted Bank of China 5 yuan notes.
In 1945, paper money production resumed essentially unaltered from before the war, with the government issuing 1, 5 and 10 cents, and 1-dollar notes, and the three banks issuing 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500-dollar notes. 1-dollar notes were replaced by coins in 1960, with only the 1-cent note issued by the government after 1965.
In 1975, the 5-dollar notes were replaced by a coin, whilst 1,000-dollar notes were introduced in 1977. The Mercantile Bank was absorbed by the HSBC in 1978 and ceased issuing notes. In 1985, 20-dollar notes were introduced, whilst, in 1993, a 10-dollar coin was introduced and the banks stopped issuing 10 dollar notes. In 1994 the HKMA gave authority to the Bank of China to issue notes.
After a less-than-successful trial from 1994 to 2002 to move the 10-dollar denomination from the banknote format (issued by the banks) to the coin format (Government-issued), 10 dollar banknotes are currently the only denomination issued by the HKMA, having acquired the note printing plant at Tai Po from the De La Rue Group of the UK on behalf of the Government. The older 10-dollar banknotes are, although rare and being phased out, still circulating.
A commemorative polymer ten dollar note was issued in July 2007 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China. The new notes will circulate along with other issues for a trial period of two years, though the initial batch released was largely snapped up by collectors.
Linked exchange rate system
Since 1983, the linked exchange rate system is a unique type of exchange rate regime used for the Hong Kong dollar to be pegged with the United States dollar at a fixed rate of HK$7.80 = US$1. In this unique linked exchange rate system, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) authorises the three note-issuing banks (HSBC, Bank of China and Standard Chartered) to issue new banknotes provided that they deposit an equivalent value of United States dollars with the HKMA.
In practice, in the unique linked exchange rate system, the exchange rate of HK$7.80 = US$1, is strictly controlled by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in the foreign exchange market by controlling supply and demand of Hong Kong dollars in order to influence the exchange rate being fixed. By this arrangement the HKMA guarantees to exchange United States dollar into Hong Kong dollars and vice versa, at the rate of 7.80. When the market rate is below 7.80, the banks will convert United States dollar for Hong Kong dollars from the HKMA, Hong Kong dollars supply will increase, and the market rate will climb back to 7.80. The same mechanism also works when the market rate is above 7.80, and the banks will convert Hong Kong dollars for United States dollars.
By this arrangement, the Hong Kong dollar is backed by one of the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, which is over 7 times the amount of money supplied in circulation or about 48% of Hong Kong dollar M3 at the end of April 2016.
Renminbi peg debate
Following the Internationalization of the renminbi and the inclusion of the Renminbi in the special drawing rights, there has been debates to peg the Hong Kong dollar with the Renminbi, instead of the United States dollar. Studies shows that, if the Hong Kong dollar were to be re-pegged to the Renminbi, it would need over 2 trillion Renminbi worth of assets to replace the HKMA's US$340 billion in foreign reserves as of 2015, which exceeds the amount of existing Renminbi assets in Hong Kong's offshore market. Moreover, according to figures from the HKMA as of the end of 2014, Renminbi deposits and certificates of deposits stood at 1.158 trillion Renminbi, while outstanding Renminbi bonds amounted to 381 billion and Renminbi-denominated loans stood at 188 billion. Other studies shows, while the Hong Kong's financial and economic links are increasingly dominated by mainland China, and previous concerns about the openness of China's capital account are slowly receding, if China continues to open its capital account, the peg could shift from United States dollar to renminbi.
However, in January 2016, the volatility in the Renminbi and China's financial markets expanded to Hong Kong's markets and its currency. Renminbi offshore overnight borrowing rate, HIBOR, soared to 66.8% on January 12 after People's Bank of China - China's central bank (PBOC) intervened in the effort of squeezing out Renminbi short speculations by tightening liquidity at Hong Kong commercial banks. The PBOC's move at the offshore market, coupled with another plunge in Chinese stocks, has led to investors’ fears that the Hong Kong Dollar may be de-pegged from the US Dollar in the foreseeable future. In response to the market speculation, Hong Kong Monetary Authority said on January 27 that the regulator will protect Hong Kong dollar's linked exchange rate regime. Yet, many investors no longer consider Hong Kong as a safe haven as they once had given increasing financial influence by mainland China. As Hong Kong's financial markets are highly impacted by mainland China, the Renminbi exchange rate as well as China's equity market remain is in a state of high volatility and continues to weigh on Hong Kong markets and the Hong Kong dollar.
|Rank||Currency||ISO 4217 code|
|% of daily trades|
(bought or sold)
Historical exchange rates
|Period||Exchange rate regime||Features|
|1863–1935||Silver Standard||Silver dollars as legal tender|
|December 1935 – June 1972||Sterling exchange||Standard exchange rate:
|July 1972 – November 1974||Fixed exchange rate against the US dollar||Exchange rate:
|November 1974 – October 1983||Free floating||Exchange rates on selected days:
|1983 – present||Linked exchange rate system||
(for issue and redemption of Certificates of Indebtedness)
(The HKMA undertakes to convert the HK dollars in licensed banks’ clearing accounts maintained with the HKMA into US dollars at the fixed exchange rate of HK$7.75 to US$1. The rate has been moving to 7.80 by 1 pip each calendar day starting from 1 April 1999 ending 12 August 2000.)
HKMA set up upper and lower guaranteed limit since 18 May 2005
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- HKMA (12 March 2007). "General Information on the Hong Kong Ten Dollar Polymer Note" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 June 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
- HKMA (23 June 2007). "Hong Kong Ten Dollar Polymer Note". Archived from the original on 12 July 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- The total sum is 200% because each currency trade always involves a currency pair; one currency is sold (e.g. US$) and another bought (€). Therefore each trade is counted twice, once under the sold currency ($) and once under the bought currency (€). The percentages above are the percent of trades involving that currency regardless of whether it is bought or sold, e.g. the U.S. Dollar is bought or sold in 88% of all trades, whereas the Euro is bought or sold 32% of the time.
- "Hong Kong Monetary Authority - History of Hong Kong's Exchange Rate System". Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- Hong Kong Monetary Authority - Banknotes
- banknote.ws - HKD banknotes issued by HSBC
- banknote.ws - HKD banknotes issued by SCBHK
- banknote.ws - HKD banknotes issued by BOCHK
- banknote.ws - HKD banknotes issued by the HKSAR government