BANKNOTES OF MACAU
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Banco Nacional Ultramarino
Banco da China
The Macanese pataca
The pataca, Chinese: 澳門圓, is the currency of the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau. The pataca is made up of 100 avos. The monetary policy of Macau is managed by the Monetary Authority of Macao. The currency's ISO 4217 code is MOP, The abbreviation MOP$ is commonly used.
The name "pataca" is derived from a formerly popular silver coin in Asia, the Mexican peso (eight reales), known in Portuguese as the pataca mexicana. Another version of the pataca was also used in Portuguese Timor, now East Timor, until 1957, when it was replaced by the escudo. The Chinese name for the currency is yuan (圓), which is the same word for Chinese yuan, New Taiwan dollar, and Hong Kong dollar.
People in Hong Kong or Macau, however, usually refer Macanese Pataca as "Portuguese Money" (葡幣）. This apparently was bacause Macao was a Portuguese colony prior to being returned to China in 1999.
The pataca was introduced in Macao in 1894 as a unit of account. It was initially equivalent to the Mexican peso, Spanish dollar, Hong Kong dollar and replaced the Portuguese real at a rate of one pataca for 450 reis.
The pataca has been the legal tender in Macau for over a century. The Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU; 大西洋銀行) has been the banknote-issuing authority since 1905. Pataca banknotes have been circulated in Macau since January 27, 1906. Pataca coins were first issued in 1952. However, owing to the small market demand in Macau, the second issue was postponed until 1967. The 1952 coins were bronze 5 and 10 avos, cupro-nickel 50 avos and 0.72 silver 1 and 5 patacas.
In 1980, the Macau Government transferred the exclusive right to issue patacas to the Instituto Emissor de Macau (IEM). The BNU became the IEM's agent bank and continued to issue banknotes. On agreement with the IEM, pn October 16, 1995, Bank of China, Macau branch (中國銀行澳門分行) became the second note-issuing bank. The authority to issue patacas has since been transferred to the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM).
At the time of the first issuance, the only denominations were 1 pataca, 5 patacas, 10 patacas, 25 patacas, 50 patacas, and 100 patacas, with the 20-Cent coin from Canton Province. Later, Macau began issuing 5 avos, 10 avos, and 50 avos in February 1920. Not until 1942 did Macau issue smaller denominations like 1 avo, 5 avos, and 20 avos.
On August 8, 1988, BNU issued a 1000 pataca banknote, the highest value banknote yet. Because 8 in Chinese (Ba) is similar to "getting rich" (Fa; 發), this unique date which occurs only once per century gives the note a special meaning. Another feature is the replacement of the Coat of arms of Portugal with Banco Nacional Ultramarino's logo, symbolizing the fact that Macau would become part of the People's Republic of China.
The pataca comes in banknotes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 patacas. Banknotes are issued by the Banco Nacional Ultramarino and the Bank of China. The current series of BNU banknotes was issued in 2005, while the Bank of China notes were last issued between 1995 and 2003. The physical sizes of the banknotes are "coincidentally" the same as that of Hong Kong banknotes. On December 20, 1999, the day Macau was retro-ceded to China, banknotes of all values (except for 10 patacas) by both banks were reissued with that date, although earlier versions remain valid.
Coins are currently issued by the Monetary Authority of Macao and come in denominations of: 10, 20, 50 avos and 1, 2, 5 and 10 patacas.
Macanese Pataca Exchange Rates
The exchange rate is pegged and is approximately MOP$103 for HK$100 as of February 2004. For United States dollars, to which the Hong Kong dollar is in turn loosely pegged, the exchange rate is around 8 patacas to 1 US dollar. While it is possible to exchange patacas in Macau, it is difficult, if not impossible, to do so outside the territory, even in Hong Kong.
Despite the pataca being the legal currency of Macau, the Hong Kong dollar is ironically preferred. Some casinos go as far as rejecting bets from people equipped with the MOP currency. These people may overcome this by exchanging their patacas into Hong Kong dollars at the nearest currency exchange agency. The Hong Kong dollar and renminbi are generally accepted all throughout of Macau in casinos to places of interest such as McDonald's.
As there are currently no restrictions on the import or export of either local or foreign currency into or from Macau, visitors can change their currency in hotels, banks and authorized exchange dealers located all around the city.
► Banknotes of Hong Kong S.A.R.
► Banknotes of China
► Banknotes of Portugal
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Page created: 2 September 2006
Last Update: 17 April 2007
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