What Is the BOB (Bolivian Boliviano)?

The Bolivian boliviano (BOB) is the national currency of Bolivia. Although the most recent version of the boliviano was introduced in 1987, previous versions of the currency have existed since 1864.

Throughout 2020, one U.S. dollar has bought 6.86 BOB.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bolivian boliviano (BOB) is the national currency of Bolivia.
  • Introduced in 1987, it is the most recent of a series of Bolivian currencies to carry that same name.
  • Although Bolivia has experienced significant currency devaluations in its recent history, the current boliviano has been relatively stable thus far.

Understanding the Bolivian Boliviano

The boliviano is issued and overseen by Bolivia's central bank, the Banco Central de Bolivia, which disseminates the currency in both coin and banknote formats.

A single boliviano is comprised of 100 subunits, called centavos. Boliviano coins come in denominations of 10, 20, and 50 centavos. In addition, larger coins worth one, two, and five bolivianos are also in circulation. Banknotes feature denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 bolivianos.

History of Bolivia and its Currency

When first introduced in 1864, the boliviano replaced the Bolivian scudo at a rate of 1 boliviano to 0.5 Bolivian scudi. At the time, the boliviano pegged to the French franc at a rate of 5 francs to 1 boliviano. In 1908, however, Bolivia abandoned this currency peg and adopted the gold standard, pegging the currency at 12.5 bolivianos to 1 British pound (GBP).

History of the Boliviano

The history of the Bolivian boliviano can be confusing, because several different currencies have shared the "boliviano" name. For instance, the version of the boliviano introduced in 1864 is substantially different from the boliviano in use today.

Following its adoption of the gold standard, the boliviano underwent a period of devaluation against the GBP lasting between 1928 and 1938. By the end of this period, the peg rate had increased to 160 bolivianos per British pound.

In 1940, the Bolivian government began accepting multiple exchange rates between the boliviano and the U.S. dollar. By 1963, the boliviano had resumed its devaluation, prompting the government to replace it with a new currency—the peso boliviano—which began circulation at an exchange rate of 1,000 to 1 relative to the previous version of the currency. Continued inflationary pressures led Bolivia to replace the peso boliviano with the modern boliviano in 1987, introducing it roughly at par with the dollar, or 1 million new bolivianos per peso boliviano.

Since 1987, the central bank has allowed the boliviano to float freely against other currencies. The government has also targeted inflation since that time, through partial privatization of public-sector businesses and legislative policymaking designed to promote private investment.

The Bolivian Boliviano in the Real World

Since 2012, Banco Central de Bolivia has held the boliviano's value steady at 6.9 bolivianos per U.S. dollar. At the same time, the inflation rate has gradually come under control and registered just under 2% in 2019.

Bolivia's economy has also grown steadily throughout that time frame. Its per-capita gross domestic product, measured in terms of purchasing power parity, has grown from around $4,800 per person in 2008 to more than $9,000 in 2019.