Thai Baht (THB)

Thailand's official currency

The Thai baht is the country's official currency. It is split into 100 satangs which are pronounced sà.t. The Bank of Thailand is responsible for currency issuance. It is pronounced as Thai bàt. And its sign code used is THB.

Thai Baht

As of January 2019, the currency was ranked as the tenth most commonly used world payment currency by SWIFT.

It has been in use since 1902 in Thailand.

Before the adoption of Thai baht coins and banknotes, Thai money was used as a medium of exchange and to settle accounts in novel designs and forms. Money was regarded as a symbol of civilization by the Thai people.

Currency reflected faith in religion, culture, customs, and traditions of each era, and it also served as a record of Thailand's development.

The Bank of Thailand introduced a new series of banknotes depicting a picture of its current monarch, Maha Vajiralongkorn, in 2018 And also the final two denominations, 500 and 1,000 baht, were issued on July 28, 2018, the anniversary of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's birth.

History 

Various prehistoric communities once lived on the land that is now Thailand. These people left a legacy of social culture and ceremonies. 

Thai flag

Before money was invented to serve as a medium of exchange in Thai society, humans traded goods by bartering for products of similar value. Many products, however, differed in quality, and buyers and sellers differed in their assessments of value and requirements. 

Several mutually agreed-upon commodities were used as mediums of exchange to facilitate product sales. 

Thailand is currently located on the Indo-China Peninsula, also known as the "Golden Peninsula" or "Suvarnabhumi."

These ancient kingdoms provided a prosperous home for a wide range of races and tribes. They were the regions that became known as the Funan Kingdom, Dvaravati Kingdom, Srivijaya Kingdom, and the Sukhothai Kingdom in the following centuries.

 In fact, money was used as a medium of exchange, and it evolved into various forms of money. 

Thai money reflects the unique characteristics of the Thai nation, beginning with the Sukhothai Kingdom, which used round-shaped silver money known as "pod duang," and continuing through the Ayudhya, Thonburi, and early Rattanakosin periods.

Pegging Thai Baht as a unit of mass

This currency, like the British pound, evolved from a traditional unit of mass. Its monetary value was originally expressed in terms of corresponding weights of silver (now defined as 15 grams), and it was probably in use as early as the Sukhothai period in the form of bullet coins known in Thai as phot duang.

Buddhist

These were solid silver pieces cast in a variety of weights to correspond to a traditional system of units linked by simple fractions and multiples, one of which is the baht.

That system was in use until 1897, when his half-brother King Chulalongkorn introduced the decimal system devised by Prince Jayanta Mongkol, in which one baht = 100 satang, along with the demonetization of silver bullet coins on October 28, 1904, following the end of silver bullet coin production by the opening of Sitthikarn Royal Mint in 1857. 

However, coins denominated in the old units were issued until 1910, and the amount of 25 satang, as well as the 25-satang coin, are still commonly referred to as salueng.

The baht was fixed on a purely silver basis until November 27, 1902, with 15 grams of silver to the baht. As a result, the currency's value fluctuated in relation to currencies on a gold standard. 

The values of certain foreign silver coins were fixed by law between 1856 and 1864, with 5 baht equaling 3 Spanish dollars and 7 Indian rupees. 

Prior to 1880, the exchange rate was set at 8 baht per pound sterling, falling to 10 baht per pound in the 1880s.

Silhouette

In 1902, the government began to raise the value of the baht by tracking all increases in the value of silver against gold but not lowering it when the price of silver fell.

This was revised to 12 baht in 1919 and then to 11 baht in 1923, following a period of instability. The baht was pegged to one Japanese yen on April 22, 1942, during World War II. 

From 1956 to 1973, the baht was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 20.8 baht to one dollar, and until 1978, it was pegged at 20 baht to one dollar.

Thailand re-pegged its currency at 25 to the dollar from 1984 until July 2, 1997, when the country was affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis

The baht was floated, and its value was halved, reaching a low of 56 to the dollar in January 1998.

It has since risen to around 30 cents on the dollar.

The baht was first known to foreigners as the tical, a term that was used in English language text on banknotes until Series 2 1925.

Economy

Thailand's economy is developed and commercialized. It is heavily reliant on exports, which account for more than two-thirds of GDP.

Flag

On December 19, 2006, the Bank of Thailand imposed a series of exchange controls, resulting in a significant divergence between offshore and onshore exchange rates, with differences of up to 10% between the two markets.

On March 3, 2008, restrictions were imposed, and there is now no discernible difference between offshore and onshore exchange rates.

Thailand's economic rise has made the Thai Baht (THB) a popular currency for foreign exchange (FX) traders. It has evolved into an important accounting unit for the global economy. 

According to the Bank of International Settlements, the Thai Baht was the 24th most traded currency in 2019.

Thailand's economy grew by 6.6 percent per year on average between 1950 and 2000, making it one of the best-performing economies of the second half of the twentieth century. However, growth has slowed significantly since the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

Between 1999 and 2005, the Thai economy expanded at a 5% average annual rate, and GDP growth slowed to a 3.5 percent average annual rate from 2005 to 2015.

According to the World Bank, Thailand's performance has dramatically reduced poverty, from 67 percent in 1986 to 7.2 percent in 2015, elevating the country to the status of an upper-middle income country.

Thai brick flag

Thailand is classified as an upper-middle-income economy by the World Bank. However, it is still burdened by significant external debt.

 As of 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, the country has an annual inflation rate of -1.0 percent and a GDP growth rate of -6.1 percent.

Thailand's currency, like many others, is available in coins and banknotes. Paper banknotes are available in denominations of 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht, and 1,000 baht, with the most common denomination being 100 baht.

The baht is divided into 100 satangs by the Thai central bank. Thai coins are available in denominations of one, two, five, ten, twenty-five, and fifty satangs. The most common coin is the 10-satang coin.

The currency is commonly known as Thai baht or simply baht, and its symbol is an uppercase B with a perpendicular line down the center. On foreign currency exchange markets, the baht is denoted by the three-letter code THB.

Lese-Majeste Law

According to Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, lèse-majesté (a French term meaning "to do wrong to majesty") is a crime in Thailand. 

Lese-Majeste Law

It is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten Thailand's monarch (king, queen, heir-apparent, heir-presumptive, or regent). Contemporary Thai lèse-majesté law has been in effect since 1908. 

Since World War II, Thailand has been the only constitutional monarchy that has strengthened its lèse-majesté law. 

It has been described as the "world's harshest lèse majesté law" and "potentially the strictest criminal-defamation law anywhere," with penalties ranging from three to fifteen years in prison for each count; its enforcement "has been in the interest of the palace."

People in other countries may not handle bills and coins with care. However, this is not the case in Thailand. The country has a strict national law, known as the lese-majeste law, that prohibits insults to the monarchy.

This law makes any verbal, physical, or written act that is disrespectful to the king or any member of the royal family illegal. 

Because all money in Thailand bears a portrait of the king or a deceased member of the royal family, this law extends to currency handling.

For example, the following actions may be illegal in Thailand:

  • tripping over a coin

  • tripping over a banknote

  • The act of burning, tearing or writing on a banknote

On the other hand, many Thai shops display some smaller baht banknotes as a show of respect for the king.

The appearance of Thai Baht

The Thai baht is made with a special cotton fiber that is designed to be extra durable. In fact, each banknote denomination has a different thickness and feel, making it easier to distinguish between them when dealing with Thai currency.

Coins

The Bank of Thailand employs an intaglio printing technique that leaves the print slightly raised, providing a more tactile feel than other currencies.

The denominations are clearly displayed in Arabic and Thai numerals. Each banknote also has hidden Arabic numerals in the lower-left corner.

Thailand's current king, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is depicted on the 20-, 50-, and 100-baht banknotes. The most recent 500- and 1,000-baht banknotes were issued in 2018 on King Maha Vajiralongkorn's birthday.

The primary colors and sizes of the notes remain unchanged, with the back designs featuring images of Thailand's kings from the past to the present.

Understanding Thai baht conversion rates

Because the baht is the only legal tender in Thailand, you will need to have your money converted into baht before visiting. Similarly, if you send money to Thailand, make sure it is in Thai baht rather than US dollars (USD), British pounds (GBP), or euros (EUR).

People

The best time to exchange Thai baht is determined by the fluctuating currency exchange rate for each currency pair.

When converting between dollars and Thai baht, you should look at the USD rate: 1 USD was worth 35.34 THB on June 23, 2022.

If you're converting Canadian dollars (CAD), Australian dollars (AUD), or New Zealand dollars, you'll get a different rate (NZD).

The 1, 5, and 10 satangs are only used within banks and are not in circulation. 

Older coins, some of which are still in use, only had Thai numerals, but newer designs include Arabic numerals as well.

The reverse of the standard-issue 10-baht coin has raised dots corresponding to Braille cell dot one and dots 2-4-5, which correspond to the number 10.

10-baht coins are similar in size, shape, and weight to 2-euro coins, and they are also bi-metallic, despite being worth only 25 Euro Cents. Vending machines that do not have modern coin detectors may accept them as €2 coins or old Italian 500 lira coins. 

For special occasions, many commemorative 1, 2, 5, and 10 baht coins have been produced. There are also base metal commemorative coins worth 20, 50, and 100 baht, as well as higher denomination precious metal coins. 

Thailand's Treasury Department announced in February 2010 that it was planning a new circulation of 20 baht coins.

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Research and authored by Khadeeja C Abbas | LinkedIn

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