As you may already know, Foreign Currency and Coin Exchange is your one stop shop for all things currency related. From selling to buying your foreign currency, within our online currency marketplace, you can search through over 130 currencies to fulfill your needs. Whether you are looking into selling leftover currency lying around after a trip or buying what you need for your upcoming trip, you can do both transactions here safely. Foreign currency is a fascinating world, which is why we wanted to give you a little bit of context. Read on and find out more about currency history and amazing facts!

The history of money

coins on map

To talk about the history of money is to talk about human history as well. Throughout history, humans started bartering or trading goods in order to fulfill their needs. While a formal system was years ahead, the emergence of money is thought to have come about when in different ancient cultures began using commodity money or objects with assigned unit value, as a medium of exchange. Out of necessity, the direct trade of goods evolved into the first forms of prehistoric currencies over 3,000 years ago. This in turn gave place to the use of credit and debt, or the origin of a large-scale commodity economies in Mesopotamia.

The origin of currency


Growing in complexity, these commodity money economies soon outgrew their scope. This meant the origin of standardized coinage around 600 B.C. in Lydia (what is now Turkey). Here, the first coins were minted using a mixture of metals and stamped designs in place for denominations. From this, the use of metals as a form of currency expanded throughout Europe and was used for centuries forward. Precious metals like gold and silver have, throughout history, been the most popular forms of money used.

Paper Money

While coinage was spreading through Europe, paper money was first used in China around 700 B.C. What started as merchant receipts, soon gave place to banknotes, that were used alongside coins for centuries. Banknotes, like the name suggests, were issued by banks and could be traded at face value for coins. Until the 16th century, Europeans relied heavily on coins, supported by colonial supply of precious metals. The first government issued banknotes or bills were introduced in Europe around the 17th century to aid in the colonial expansion in America.

International Trade

Though the move to paper money took centuries, when it actually occurred, the world was transformed. International trade became widespread and the currency market was created. This meant a whole new market to trade and speculate for, with varying values of currencies attached to government stability and a country’s buying power.

The currency market today

currency market

This international currency market is the foreign exchange market, known as Forex or FX, and it is a global marketplace for exchanging currencies. It is the largest financial market in the world and provides a platform for buying, selling, exchanging and speculation of currencies.

Here are some interesting facts of the currency market today via brokernotes and

  • The global forex trading market is worth $1,934,500,000,000 (that’s $1.93 quadrillion). This is 2.5 times larger than the global GDP. 
  • There are over 170 different currencies around the world today that make up the Forex market.
  • Forex is the only market that runs for 24 hours per day. The Forex market is the most liquid market in the world. 
  • More than 85% of the global forex market transactions happen on only 7 currency pairs:
    • EUR/USD – Euro and US Dollars
    • USD/JPY – US Dollars and Japanese Yen
    • GBP/USD – British Pounds and US Dollars
    • AUD/USD – Australian Dollar and US Dollars
    • NZD/USD – New Zealand Dollar and US Dollars
    • USD/CAD – US Dollar and Canadian Dollar
    • USD/CHF – US Dollar and Swiss Francs
  • The top 10 most traded currencies today:
    1. The US Dollar is the most traded currency, being part of almost 90% of global trades.
    2. The Euro is the second most traded currency (EUR 33.4%)
    3. The Japanese Yen (JPY, 23%) is the third most traded currency
    4. The British Pound (GBP, 11.8%) is the fourth most traded currency
    5. The Australian Dollar (AUD 8.6 %) is the fifth most traded currency
    6. The Swiss Franc (CHF, 5.2%) is the sixth most traded currency
    7. The Canadian Dollar (CAD 4.6%) is the seventh most traded currency
    8. The Mexican Peso (MXN 2.5%) is the eighth most traded currency
    9. Chinese Renminbi (CNY 2.2%) is the ninth most traded currency
    10. New Zealand Dollar (NZD 1.4%) is the tenth most traded currency

ISO Currency Codes

Want to know more about the abbreviations above? These are the ISO currency codes. Assigned by the International Organization for Standards (ISO), they are a three-letter alphabetic code and three-digit numeric code that identify a unit of currency and country of issue.

Some of the most popular ones probably require no introduction, like USD for the US Dollar or EUR for the Euro. However, there is an ISO currency code for each of the currencies of the world. Find all you need to know in out ISO Currency Code Cheat Sheet here

Currency Symbols or Currency Signs

The ISO currency code is not to be confused with the currency symbol; these are the graphic symbols used to reference amounts of money in a specified currency. Some of the most popular currency symbols are:

money symbols

What may be known as the dollar sign or $, is also the currency sign for other currencies other than the US Dollar. In fact, it is also the symbol for:

  • The Australian Dollar (A$)
  • The Bahamian Dollar (B$)
  • The Barbadian Dollar (Bds$)
  • The Belizean Dollar (BZ$)
  • The Bermudian Dollar (BD$)
  • The Brunei Dollar (B$)
  • The Canadian Dollar (CAD$)
  • The Cayman Island Dollar (CI$)
  • The East Caribbean Dollar (EC$)
  • The Fiji Dollar (FJ$)
  • The Guyanese Dollar (G$)
  • The Hong Kong Dollar (HK$)
  • The Jamaican Dollar (J$)
  • The Kiribati Dollar
  • The Liberian Dollar (L$)
  • The Namibian Dollar (N$)
  • The New Zealand Dollar (NZ$)
  • The Singaporean Dollar (S$)
  • The Solomon Islands Dollar (SI$)
  • The Surinamese Dollar (SRD$)
  • The New Taiwan Dollar (NT$)
  • The Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TT$)
  • The Tuvaluan Dollar

More so, the same symbol is also the one used for pesos in several countries, including:

  • The Argentine Peso (ARS$)
  • The Chilean Peso (CLP$)
  • The Colombian Peso (COP$)
  • The Cuban Peso (MN$)
  • The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC$)
  • The Dominican Peso (RD$)
  • The Mexican Peso (Mex$)
  • The Uruguayan Peso ($U)

Finally, in many cases the subdivision of some of these currencies uses the cent or centavo symbol, ¢ to denote centesimal divisions of the currency.

Other very commonly used and known currency symbols include:

The € for the Euro, the currency of most of the European Union member states.

The £ for not only the British Pound or pound sterling, but also, the Alderney, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, Manx, Saint Helena and Egyptian Pounds.

The ¥ for both the Japanese Yen and the Chinese Yuan.


Getting specific

Want to go into specifics of some of the most traded and interesting currencies in our site? We’ve worked on bringing you the facts. Click on the links to access the posts and learn more about these currencies:


A brief history of the Euro and preceding national currencies of the Eurozone Read more
All you need to know about the Yen Read more
What you need to know about the British Pound Read more
What you need to know about the British Pound Read more
What you Need to Know about Mexican Pesos and Mexican Paper Money Read more
Colombian Pesos Explained Read more
The Venezuelan Currency Crisis Read more
Iraqi Dinar Buyback Read more
Brazilian Real Read more


Fun facts on foreign currencies that you probably didn’t know

Since we’ve gone over the history of money and learned about the foreign currency world, we wanted to include some interesting facts to teach us a little more about this fascinating subject. There is no doubt money is part of modern culture, and as such there are some amazing facts that we sum up here:

  1. Did you know that the oldest currency still in circulation is the British Pound (GBP) is the oldest existing currency still in circulation? With origins that trace back to the Roman Era, particularly in continental Europe, the pound sterling has been around hundreds of years. 
  2. Since we’re on the subject of the British, a fun fact is that Queen Elizabeth II holds the Guinness Book of World Record for an individual appearing on most currencies. Her face has been used in the currencies of 35 countries as part of the Commonwealth.
  3. As of 2020, the most valuable foreign currency in the world is the Kuwaiti Dinar. (Disclaimer: This fluctuates due to market behavior). Being a small country with a petroleum- based economy, Kuwait is considered one of the richest countries in the world.
  4. There are all sort of currency collectables out there, including banknotes featuring special designs. What are the most unique? While it will definitely depend on your preferences (some might like animal designs, others may prefer means of transportation like trains, or boats, while others may prefer sceneries like mountains, rivers and other views of nature, some may favor portraits of famous people such as kings, presidents or notable people like scientists, writers and more!), but there is definitely a good contender in the island of Niue. Their currency is the New Zealand Dollar and their official coins include pop culture references like Disney characters, Pokemon and other commemorative designs.
  5. Did you know that according to estimates, only 8% of the world’s currency is in physical form? The rest exists digitally in bank accounts. (And we’re not talking about virtual currency like Bitcoin!)

Why us: Foreign Currency and Coin Exchange

Our company is a safe, trusted and reliable platform where you can sell foreign currency, foreign coins, stamps and gift cards for cash. We offer the opportunity to cash in those old banknotes and coins laying around your drawer. And the best part? Our simple process. To start exchanging, start by going through our complete list here and simply scroll to the country that you have and click on it. You will be directed to a page with photos of all the banknotes and coins that we buy from that country. Our rates are built into each item. Type in how many you have of each banknote and coin and then add each item to your sales wallet. Your sales wallet will keep a running total of how much you will receive in payment from us.


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