BRIEF HISTORY OF CURRENCY IN 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 present 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. The unit of currency was accordingly standardised with 100 Chhetrum being equal to 1 Ngultrum. In 1982 the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMA) was established to act as the central bank of Bhutan. The RMA commenced its operations in 1983, when it assumed liability for all notes and coins previously issued by the Ministry of Finance.

Denomination of Banknotes and Coins in Bhutan

At present, notes in Bhutan are issued in the denominations of Nu.5, Nu.10, Nu.20, Nu.50, Nu.100 and Nu.500. The printing of notes in the denominations of Nu.1 and Nu.2 have been discontinued, and the Nu.1 denomination has been coinised. However, such notes issued earlier which are still in circulation and are still legal tender.

Coins are available in denominations of Ch.5, Ch10, Ch.25, Ch.50 and Nu.1.

Currency Management

The various denominations of banknotes and coins are decided by the RMA's Board of Directors on the advice of the RMA. The designs and security features of the banknotes and coins are also proposed by the RMA and subject to approval by the Board of Directors. The RMA estimates the quantities of notes and coins of different denominations that are likely to be needed, and after obtaining the approval of the Board, invites tenders from renowned international security printing companies and mints. The notes and coins received from the printers are stored in the vaults and issued to the banks and the public on request. Notes and coins returned from circulation by the banks and the public are examined and only notes and coins which are fit for circulation are reissued. "Soiled and mutilated" notes are destroyed by shredding so as to maintain the quality of the notes in circulation.

Refund of soiled and mutilated notes

Soiled notes are those which have become dirty and limp due to use, and mutilated notes are those which are torn, disfigured, burnt etc. Such notes can be exchanged at the RMA. Full value is payable against soiled notes. Payment of value against mutilated notes is made in accordance with the Note Refund Rules which have been framed by the Board of Directors under Section 21 (9) of the RMA Act.General features of bank notes
The first series of banknotes issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Bhutan were all of the same size, irrespective of the denomination. However, this sometimes made it difficult for the largely rural population to differentiate between the denominations.

NGULTRUM FIVE (5)

Size: 13.0 x 6.2 cm
Paper quality: 100 % cotton

Security feature
Watermark: Running along the border of notes at the top and bottom showing part of the wording "Royal Monetary Authority.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.

Design: Obverse

  1. The Government crest in the center with two
    mythical bird ( Bja Tshering), the bird of long
    life at both right and left sides.
  2. The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in
    Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Paro Rinpung Dzong.
  2. The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in
    English at the top face


NGULTRUM TEN (10)

Size: 14.0 x 7.0 cm.
Paper: 100 % cotton.

Security feature
Watermark: Running along the border of notes at the top and bottom showing part of the wording "Royal Monetary Authority.
Security Thread: Contain a plain, fully embedded security thread on the left side of the notes.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch, in all denomination of notes.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.

Design: Obverse

  1. The Governmen crest on the left.
  2. Dungkar (conch) one of the eight lucky signs in the center.
  3. Portrait of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck on the right.
  4. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Paro Rinpung Dzong.
  2. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in English at the top face.

 



NGULTRUM TWENTY (20)

Size: 15.2 x 7.0 cm.
Paper quality: 100% cotton.

Security feature
Watermark: Running along the border of notes at the top and bottom showing part of the wording "Royal Monetary Authority".
Security Thread: Contain a plain, fully embedded security thread on the left side of the notes.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch, in all denomination of notes.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.

Design: Obverse

  1. The Government crest on the left.
  2. Khorlo ( Wheel of Dharma , one of the eight auspicious signs) in the center.
  3. Portrait of third King His Majesty Majesty
    Jigme Dorji Wangchuck on the right.
  4. Royal Manetary Authority of Bhutan in
    Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Punakha Dzong.
  2. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in
    English at the top face.




NGULTRUM FIFTY (50)

Size: 15.5 x 7.0cm
Paper Quality: 100 % cotton.

Security feature
Watermark: Running along the border of notes at the top and bottom showing part of the wording "Royal Monetary Authority".
Security Thread:Contain a plain, non-readable fully embedded security thread on the left side of the notes.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch, in all denomination of notes.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.
See through Register:Contain small floral design printed in precise register on both sides of the notes . When the note is held up to the light, part of the design printed on the back will fit exactly within unprinted areas on the front, or alternatively printed areas of two designs may coincide perfectly.

Design: Obverse

  1. The Government crest on the left .
  2. Khorlo ( Wheel of Dharama, one of the eight
    auspicious signs in the center.
  3. Portrait of third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji
    Wangchuck on the right.
  4. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in
    Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Trongsa Dzong with two mythical bird Bja
    Tshering ( bird of long life ) at both ends.
  2. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in English
    at the top face.


NGULTRUM HUNDRED (100)

Size: 16.1 x 7.0 cm
Paper Quality:100 % cotton.

Security feature:
Watermark: Crossed Dorji (Dorji jardrum) watermark with a light and shade effect in the watermark window on the left side of the note.
Security thread: Windowed security thread alternately visible on the obverse with the inscriptions 'RMBA' , but totally embedded on the reverse. When held against the light, the window security can be seen as one continuous line.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch, in all denomination of notes.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.
See through Register:Contain small floral design printed in precise register on both sides of the notes . When the note is held up to the light, part of the design printed on the back will fit exactly within unprinted areas on the front, or alternatively printed areas of two designs may coincide perfectly.

Design: Obverse

  1. Crossed Dorji (Dorji jardrum) watermark on
    the left.
  2. Norbu Rimpochhe, one of the seven auspicious
    gems in the center.
  3. Portrait of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck on the right.
  4. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Tashichho Dzong with two dragons at top ends.
  2. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in English at the top face.


NGULTRUM FIVE HUNDRED (500)

Size: 16.0 x 7.0cm
Paper Quality:100 % cotton.

Security feature
Watermark: Crossed Dorji (Dorji jardrum) watermark with a light and shade effect in the watermark window on the left side of the note.
Security thread: Windowed security thread alternately visible on the obverse with the inscriptions 'RMBA' , but totally embedded on the reverse. When held against the light, the window security can be seen as one continuous line.
Intaglio Printing: The name of the Issuing Authority ie Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on the face of the note in Dzongkha and in English on the reverse, denomination in English and Dzongkha, guarantee and promise clause, RMA Chairman's signature are printed in intaglio i.e. in raised prints, which can be felt by touch, in all denomination of notes.
Fluorescence: Fluorescence fiber yellow which is not visible to naked eye but visible only under ultraviolet light.
See through Register:Contain small floral design printed in precise register on both sides of the notes . When the note is held up to the light, part of the design printed on the back will fit exactly within unprinted areas on the front, or alternatively printed areas of two designs may coincide perfectly.

Design: Obverse

  1. Crossed Dorji (Dorji jardrum) watermark on
    the left.
  2. Norbu Rimpochhe incircled by two Dragons,
    one of the seven auspicious gems in the
    center.
  3. Portrait of His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck
    on the right.
  4. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in
    Dzongkha at the top face.

Design: Reverse

  1. Punakha Dzong.
  2. Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan in English at the top face.


CHETRUM (COINS)


*Minting of Chetrum 10 & 5 has been discontinued, as per the recommedation of Board of Directors.

Legal provisions against counterfeiting:

Printing and circulation of forged notes are offences under Part V Sections 21(3) of the RMA Act 1982 and are punishable in the courts of law by fine or imprisonment.

copyright: Royal Monetary Authority , Thimphu, Bhutan