April 30 as final day for retiring the Zimbabwe $100-trillion-dollar bills

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced its official intention that April 30, 2016, will be the final day for paying anything—anything at all—to people who turned in the now-decommissioned $100,000,000,000,000 bills, $10,000,000,000,000 bills, $1,000,000,000,000 bills, and old bills of lower denominations. That announcement:

Demonetisation of the Zimbabwean Dollar — The demonetisation of the Zimbabwe dollar which was announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the 2014 National Budget, as well as, in the Mid-term Fiscal Review, and in the Monetary Policy Statement of January 2015, commenced on 15 June 2015 and ended on 30 September 2015….The Bank is currently working with the Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC) to ensure that account holders whose balances were held with closed banks are paid. DPC is expected to fully pay out these beneficiaries by the end of April 2016. ”


A previous announcement, on June 9, 2015, explained that “Demonetisation is not compensation for the loss of value of the Z$ due to hyper-inflation. It is an exchange process.”

Here are the announced exchange rates for money that people had deposited in banks:

a) Accounts with balances of Zero to Z$175 quadrillion will be paid a flat US$5.

b) Accounts with balances above Z$175 quadrillion will be paid the equivalent value after applying the UN exchange rate of US$1/Z$35 quadrillion or US$1/Z$35,000 (revalued).

Slightly different rates were on offer for “walk-in cash customers”:

Banks will exchange ZW$ cash for US$ equivalent for walk-in cash customers at an exchange rate of Z$250 trillion to US$1 for 2008 note series and Z$250 to US$1 for 2009 note series.

NewsDay published a journalistic account of all this.

The old currency has a celebrated place in history. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for mathematics was awarded to the then head of the bank, Dr. Gideon Gono, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).

Dr. Gono wrote a book explaining why that currency was a good idea that other countries should adopt. The book is Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy — Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, Gideon Gono, ZPH Publishers, Harare, 2008, ISBN 978-079-743-679-4.


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