As society slowly becomes cash-less in favour of more secure methods of transacting such as bank cards and smartphones, carrying large volumes of money on your person has become increasingly rare.
This has been reflected by the actions of monetary regulators around the world, with countries like South Africa and the US only distributing notes valued in the hundreds – simply because these satisfy the majority of daily cash payments in the country.
While novelties like the Bank of England’s 1 million and 100 million pound notes do exist, similar to collectors items, they are not considered legal tender and similar to other novelty coins are considered collector’s items.
However there are some notable exceptions to this rule, the $10,000 US dollar note (effectively retired in the early 20th century), and the 1,000 Swiss franc note still considered legal tender.
BusinessTech looked at the most valuable notes that are still considered legal tender in their country of origin.
Currency valuations based on trading values at 09:00 SAST on 20 April 2018.
$10,000 US dollar note – approximately R119,910
Large-denomination currency including $500,$1,000 and $2,000 dollar notes were widely used in the United States in the 18th and 19th century.
Although they are still legal tender in the United States, high-denomination bills were last printed in 1945, and officially discontinued in 1969 by the Federal Reserve due to ‘lack of use’.
However the $10,000 effectively disappeared well before then.
Despite this, the currency is still considered legal tender with just hundreds of the notes currently known – primarily in the care of collectors.
10,000 Singapore dollars note – approximately R91,293
Despite a 2014 announcement that it would be discontinuing the 10,000 Singapore dollar note, it remains one of the most valuable notes still in active circulation.
The Singaporean government said that the decision was made to cancel the issuing as high value notes are popular with organised criminals as they are a lighter, and a more efficient way of carrying large amounts of cash.
1,000 Swiss franc note – approximately R12,328
A point of some controversy, Switzerland’s government has continued to issue the note despite European Union concerns that it was being used in payments by militants.
The note is currently the highest denomination note available in the EU, and is often used as a store of value despite being considered legal tender.
The CHF1,000 bill currently in use features the portrait of the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt on one side. A new version of the bill is expected to be issued by the end of 2019.
1,000 UAE dirham note – approximately R3,262
Given the obscene amount of wealth in the Arab Emirates, it should come as not surprise that they also have one of the most valuable bank notes in the world.
The obverse of the note features Qasr al-Hosn, also known as the ‘White Fort’ which was constructed in 1761 as a conical watchtower to defend the only freshwater well in Abu Dhabi island.
The reverse of the note features the view of Abu Dhabi skyline.
100,000 Armenian dram note – approximately R2,496
While not as valuable as other notes on the list, the 100,000 Armenian dram note still holds value because of its high denomination.
However it was notably omitted from the third series of Armenian dram banknotes be issued in 2018, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s national currency.