What is Myanmar Kyat?
The Myanmar Kyat, also known as MMK, is the official currency of Myanmar. Though one kyat is made up of a hundred pyas, pya coins are scarce making them use notes up to a thousand kyat. While the official exchange rate of MMK to U.S dollars has stayed around 7 kyats to one US dollar, a dollar can be exchanged up to a variable price of1000 kyat from the streets or black market.
Before Myanmar finally used the MMK, the country used several currencies and different monetary policies. Indian silver rupee was first used by Myanmar as the country was part of the British Empire. In April 1937, the first Burmese rupee was made and issued. Burmese and Indian rupees has the same value until the Second World War when Malayan military dollars were used. However, Myanmar used again the Burmese rupee as soon as the war ended.
The Burma Currency Board was replaced and the Burmese Kyat was introduced by the Union Bank of Burma on July 1, 1952. Due to proliferate black market for the currency, kyat notes were demonetized. In November 1985, unusual denominations of kyat notes (i.e. 25, 35 and 75) replaced their 20s, 50s and 100s. It happened again in September 1987 when the government demonetized the 25, 35 and 75 kyat notes without prior notice resulting to 75% of the country’s currency of no value. The government then issued new series of notes (i.e. 15, 45, and 90 denominations) but great economic unrest followed. When the modern Myanmar Kyat was introduced in 1989, the old kyat notes fell into disuse due to inflation and depreciation of the currency itself instead of being demonetized. The country was once shaken when a rumor of another currency demonetization spread in 2004 but it was later proved to be false.