MMK (Myanmar Kyat)

DEFINITION of 'MMK (Myanmar Kyat)'

MMK is the currency abbreviation for the Myanmar kyat (MMK), the currency for Myanmar.

One Myanmar kyat is equal to 100 pya, and the kyat is often presented with the symbol K. Pya coins are very rare, but notes up to 1,000 kyat are commonly used.

BREAKING DOWN 'MMK (Myanmar Kyat)'

Myanmar is located in mainland Southeast Asia. In 1989, the ruling military government changed the name of the country to Myanmar, from Burma. However, the adjectival description is still Burmese, not Myanmarese. The kyat currency was introduced to replace the Indian rupee in 1943, but the rupee returned to circulation again until 1952 when the current Myanmar kyat was introduced into the Burmese economy. Within the same year, 1, 5, 25, and 50 pya coins and 1K note was introduced into the system. In subsequent years, the cost of living kept increasing, and the coins and 1K were eventually phased out.

In 1963, banks in Myanmar were nationalized with stringent banking laws. Burmese could only hold one account in one bank with each account having not more than a balance of K10,000 per month or K50,000 per year. Account holders could make minimum withdrawals of K5, however, they were only permitted to make a maximum of two withdrawals per week.

For many years, a strong black market for the new currency forced the government to demonetize several times. In May of 1964, the K50 and K100 notes were demonetized, and in 1985 the 20, 50, and 100 kyat notes were demonetized and no longer legal tender. K25, K35, and K75 were introduced during this time to take the place of the defunct kyat notes. The last demonetization occurred in 1987, when the government demonetized the 25, 35, and 75 kyat notes after less than two years of issuing them, rendering three quarters of the country's currency valueless. K45 and K90 bills were issued into the economy, but by then the kyat an unreliable currency and the Burmese instead, took to gold and jewelry as a medium for savings. The modern Myanmar kyat was introduced in 1989 without a demonetization of the prior currency and is still in use today.

In 2007, fuel subsidies were removed which led to a steep rise in the cost of basic food commodities. The resulting uprising forced the local exchange rate in the black market to weaken drastically to $1 = K1,300 even though the official exchange rate stood at $1 = K6. The country operated under a fixed exchange rate regime until 2012 when the central bank adopted a managed float for its currency in a bid to weaken and eliminate the black markets. The central bank set the exchange rate then to $1 = K818. As of September 26, 2017, the official exchange rate of the kyat is $1 = K1,360.

As of 2017, the bank notes frequently used in Myanmar are the K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1,000, K5,000, and K10,000. To get an idea of the cost of living in Myanmar as of 2017, note that the cost of local cuisine ranges from K500 to K5000 and a bottle of beer costs somewhere between K600 and K1,700.