Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan


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About Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan

Commerce in Bhutan was traditionally carried out through a system of barter in rice, butter, cheese, meat, wool, hand-woven cloth and other local produce. Bhutan first began to produce coins in silver towards the end of the 18th century, mainly for use in trade with the plains. These were followed by coins struck in alloyed silver, copper or brass, which were used for minor local purchases. These pieces, known as “Ma-trum” or “Chhe-trum” were struck by several local chieftains, rather than by the central government. Coin production continued into the 20th century under the reign of the first King, Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck (1907-26), who gradually improved the quality of striking. In 1928/29, during the reign of the second King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck (1926-52), fine machine struck silver and copper coins were introduced into circulation, marking the beginning of modern coinage in Bhutan. However, throughout this period the use of coins remained limited, and barter remained the predominant means of carrying out transactions, and even government officials were paid in kind, rather than in cash. In the mid 1950’s, during the reign of the third King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952-72), the economy gradually started to become more widely monetised, with further issues of “silver” coins, using the dies of his father, but of a nickel alloy. In 1968, the Bank of Bhutan was established as a further step towards full monetisation. By this time most salaries were paid in cash, rather than in kind.

Monetary reform commenced in 1974, during the reign of the 4th King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, with the issue by the Ministry of Finance of the first bank notes in 1974 coinciding with His Majesty’s Coronation… Continue reading about Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan here.


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