What Is MOP?

MOP is the currency code for the pataca, the official currency of Macau. Its numeric code is ISO 4217.

The acronym MOP stands for Macanese pataca. In written references, the abbreviation MOP$ is often used.

The pataca is the official legal tender of Macau, but Hong Kong dollars are most commonly used in this autonomous city-state on the south coast of China.

While patacas can be obtained in Macau, it is difficult if not impossible to find them anywhere else in the world. Visitors rely on currency exchanges in Macau or at its airport or use Hong Kong dollars instead of patacas.

Understanding the MOP

Macau is officially a special administrative region of China and maintains its own government and economic systems. The territory was a Portuguese colony and trading outpost from 1557 until 1999 when it was transferred to China.

The MOP$ is still printed with Chinese and Portuguese script, and Portuguese remains one of the territory's official languages.

Valuing the MOP

The Macanese pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at a fixed rate of one Hong Kong dollar to 1.03 Macanese patacas (MOP$1.03 = HK$1.00). In its turn, the Hong Kong dollar is loosely pegged to the United States dollar, at an exchange rate of approximately eight HK to one U.S. dollar (HK$8 = USD$1).

The pataca was introduced in Macau by the Portuguese government in 1894. The new monetary unit initially corresponded to the Mexican peso, replacing the Portuguese real as the local currency. The name pataca derives from the Portuguese name for the Mexican peso, the pataca Mexicana.

Key Takeaways

  • The MOP$ or Macanese pataca is the official currency of Macau but Hong Kong dollars are accepted everywhere.
  • Travelers will not find patacas at a local bank. They can only be found at currency exchanges in Macau.
  • Tourists visiting Macau for the gambling are better off using Hong Kong dollars.

The Macau pataca is issued in both banknotes and coins. The Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) issues and regulates the currency. 

About Macao

Macao is situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta in East Asia, about 40 miles west of Hong Kong. Its deep historical ties with China explain the dependence on the Hong Kong dollar to back up the Macanese pataca.

Macau’s economy today relies heavily on tourism and gaming. Visitors can exchange currency at the airport, hotels, banks, and at authorized dealers around the city.

In the early 2000s, travel restrictions between Macau and mainland China have been relaxed, and casino development has escalated quickly. Today's gambling industry in Macau is huge and upscale. Macau brings in more gambling revenue than the entire U.S. gaming industry.

Gambling in Patacas

Casinos are officially required for casinos to accept Macau patacas as well as Hong Kong dollars, but in practice it is complicated. Some set aside only a few tables that take both currencies, issuing chips in different colors for each. All non-gambling purchases in casinos are priced in Macau patacas.

If you use an ATM in Macau, it will ask whether you want your money in Hong Kong dollars or Macau patacas. The Hong Kong dollar is the easier choice.