Where Do You Keep Your Banknotes?

Posted by Allison on 24 January 2011, 06:17

Hopefully you will say anything other than underneath mattresses or in items of clothing – even underclothes.

But although it might sound bizarre, things are all that and more when you start delving into the banknotes of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Apparently people are keen to keep them, but they don’t take them along to their local bank to put them safely into a bank account. Instead they are opting for the less than safe alternative of stuffing them wherever they can find room.

This has prompted the government to organise the release of a song to encourage people to clean up a bit. The franc has to be one of the world’s most beleaguered currencies, and it seems like people are hard pushed to part with them. Years of being tucked under mattresses and stuffed into clothing has led to a huge amount of the banknotes becoming incredibly dirty and very much the worse for wear.

The song is supposed to encourage people to take better care of their notes. Whether they will start taking them to banks or simply wash and iron them though, it remains to be seen.

But why do people not put their francs into the banks?

The reason is that they prefer to use the US dollar. Whenever they get banknotes in francs, they hang onto them until they have enough to convert them to dollars. So the francs do make it into the banks eventually, but only en masse and only in exchange for US dollars so people can spend them. They clearly don’t like their actual currency here.

The reason for all this is inflation. The Congo franc used to be rampant with inflation, and even though that isn’t the case now, the people there are worried it will happen again and render their currency worthless. You can’t blame them for wanting to swap it as quickly as possible for the US dollar instead. But of course it doesn’t make the government too happy.

So will the song change the way people think about their currency? It remains to be seen, but somehow we think it might take more than a record to bring the Congo franc back into favour. The song does appear to be quite popular in some areas though, so who knows – perhaps it will happen.

At the moment though it would appear the majority of residents are still holding their franc banknotes in places other than the banks.