Kazakhstani Tenge

Qazaq teñgesi / Қазақ теңгесі

The teñge is the currency of Kazakhstan since 1993.

Name

The word tenge in most Turkic languages means a set of scales (cf the old Uzbek tenga). The origin of the word is the Turkic teŋ- which means being equal, balance. The name of this currency is thus similar to the taka, lira, pound and peso. The name of the currency is related to the Russian word for money Russian: деньги/ den’gi, which was borrowed from Turkic.

Symbol

In autumn 2006, the National Bank of Kazakhstan organized a competition for the symbol of the Kazakhstan Tenge and received over 30,000 applications. On March 20, 2007, two days before the Nauryz holiday, the National Bank of Kazakhstan approved a graphical symbol for the Tenge: ₸. On March 29, 2007, the Bank announced two designers from Almaty, Vadim Davydenko and Sanzhar Amirkhanov, as winners for the creation of the symbol of the Kazakhstan Tenge. They shared a prize of 1 million tenge and the title of “parents” of the Kazakhstan Tenge symbol. The character was proposed for encoding in Unicode in 2008, and was included in Unicode 5.2.0 (August 2009).

History

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, attempts were made by most republics to maintain a common currency. Some politicians were hoping to at least maintain “special relations” among former Soviet republics, or the “near abroad”. Other reasons were the economic considerations for maintaining the ruble zone. The wish to preserve strong trade relations between former Soviet republics was considered the most important goal.

The break-up of the Soviet Union was not accompanied by any formal changes in monetary arrangements. The Central Bank of Russia was authorized to take over the State Bank of the USSR (Gosbank) on 1 January 1992. It continued to ship USSR ruble notes and coins to the central banks of the eleven newly independent countries, which had formerly been the main branches of Gosbank in the republics.

The political situation, however, was not favorable for maintaining a common currency. Maintaining a common currency requires a strong political consensus in respect to monetary and fiscal targets, a common institution in charge of implementing these targets, and some minimum of common legislation (concerning the banking and foreign exchange regulations). These conditions were far from being met amidst the turbulent economic and political situation.

During the first half of 1992, a monetary union with 15 independent states all using the ruble existed. Since it was clear that the situation would not last, each of them was using its position as “free-riders” to issue huge amounts of money in the form of credit. As a result, some countries were issuing coupons in order to “protect” their markets from buyers from other states. The Russian central bank responded in July 1992 by setting up restrictions to the flow of credit between Russia and other states. The final collapse of the ruble zone began when Russia pulled out with the exchange of banknotes by the Central bank of Russia on Russian territory at the end of July 1993.

As a result, Kazakhstan and other countries still in the ruble zone were “pushed out”.  On November 12, 1993, a decree of the President of Kazakhstan, “About introducing national currency of Republic of Kazakhstan”, was issued. The tenge was introduced on 15 November 1993 to replace the Soviet ruble at a rate of 1 tenge = 500 rubles. In 1991 a “special group” of designers was created: Mendybay Alin, Timur Suleymenov, Asimsaly Duzelkhanov and Khayrulla Gabzhalilov. As such, November 15 is celebrated as the “Day of National Currency of Republic of Kazakhstan”. In 1995, a tenge printing factory was opened in Kazakhstan. The first consignment of tenge was printed abroad, in the UK. The first coins were minted in Germany. In February 2019, the President of Kazakhstan signed a bill into law that will remove all Russian captions from future tenge banknotes, as it is not a state language.

Coins

In 1993, the first series of coins were introduced in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 tiyin featuring the national arms and were struck in bronze. 1, 3, 5, 10 and 20 tenge were struck in cupro-nickel and depicted stylized and mythical animals. The coins of this period circulated alongside tiyin and low denomination tenge notes of equal value.

In 1998, a new series of coins was introduced, which excluded the tiyin having 1 tenge being the smallest denomination. 100 tenge were later introduced in 2002 replacing the equivalent notes. An irregular 2 tenge coin was also introduced later in 2005. In 2013 the alloy of lower denomination coins was altered. 

While older coins were struck in Germany, current coins are struck domestically, by the Kazakhstan Mint in Oskemen.

Banknotes

On 15 November 1993, the National Bank of Kazakhstan issued notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 tiyn, 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 50 tenge; 100 tenge notes followed shortly thereafter. The tiyn banknotes were officially withdrawn from use in 2001, while the tenge notes were in use until the end of 2012.

These were followed in 1994 by the al-Farabi series 200, 500, and 1,000 tenge notes. 2,000 tenge notes were introduced in 1996, with 5,000 tenge in 1999 and 10,000 tenge on 28 July 2003. The last banknote of this series were annulled in 2018. The text on the reverse side of the 200 tenge banknote is written in Kazakh, although text on the reverse sides of the other banknotes is written in Russian.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan issued a new series of tenge banknotes in 2006. They have the same values as the previously existed ones. The 2006 series is far more exotic than its predecessors. The obverse is vertical and the denomination is written in Kazakh. All denominations depict the Astana Bayterek monument, the flag of Kazakhstan, the Coat of arms, the handprint with a signature of president Nursultan Nazarbayev and fragments of the national anthem. The main differences across each denomination are only the colours, denominations and underprint patterns. On the contrast, the reverse side of the notes are more different. The denomination is written in Russian, and each denomination shows a unique building and geography of Kazakhstan in the outline of its borders.

The first printing of the 2,000 and 5,000 tenge notes issued in 2006 had misspellings of the word for “bank” (the correct spelling “банкі” banki was misspelled “банқі” banqi). The misspelling was a politically sensitive issue due to the cultural and political importance of the Kazakh language.

On October 3, 2016, the 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 tenge banknotes of the 2006 series lost their legal tender status and are no longer valid. From October 4, 2016 to October 3, 2017, these notes can be exchanged without commission at any second tier bank and branches of the National Bank of Kazakhstan.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan issued a new series of tenge banknotes dated 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 tenge. The designs for this series feature the “Kazakh Eli” monument on the front of the notes. On 1 December 2015, a new 20,000-tenge banknote was introduced. It contains the issue date of 2013, and is a commemorative note to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the introduction of its national currency, but was not issued until 2015. In 2017, the National Bank of Kazakhstan issued a 500-tenge banknote as part of this series, but has caused controversy over an image of a gull on the reverse side of the note and the image of the Moscow business center in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana.

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