What Is MOP?

The term MOP refers to the currency code for the Macanese pataca, the official currency of Macau, an autonomous city-state on the south coast of China. The pataca is issued by the Monetary Authority of Macau, which acts as the state's central bank and currency board. The currency's numeric code is ISO 4217 and is commonly abbreviated as MOP$. The currency is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), which is loosely tied to the U.S. dollar.

Key Takeaways

  • MOP is the currency code for the Macanese pataca, the official currency of Macau.
  • Patacas are divided into 100 avos and are abbreviated as MOP$.
  • The pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at a rate of HK$1 to MOP$1.03.
  • Both the MOP and HKD are used throughout the territory.

Understanding the MOP

As noted above, MOP is the currency code for the pataca, Macau's official currency. It was introduced unofficially by the Portuguese in 1894 and became the state's legal tender in 1901. At that time, the pataca was issued by Banco Nacional Ultramarino, a Portuguese bank that oversaw international territories.

The Monetary Authority of Macau is responsible for issuing and maintaining the stability of the pataca. The authority was established in 1999 when Macau was returned to China by Portugal. It operates as the state's central bank and is also responsible for monitoring Macau's financial system, coordinating monetary and fiscal policy, and overseeing the insurance and financial markets.

The MOP is abbreviated as MOP$ and is available in denominations of MOP$10, MOP$20, MOP$50, MOP$100, MOP$500, and MOP$1,000. Coins, which were first minted in 1952, are also available in MOP$1, MOP$2, MOP$5, and MOP$10. One pataca is divided into 100 avos while 10 avos are called a ho.

The pataca is printed with Chinese and Portuguese script, as Portuguese remains one of the territory's official languages.

Macau uses both the pataca and the Hong Kong dollar. Automated teller machines (ATMs) issue both currencies. That's because the pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar, where HK$1 is equal to MOP$1.03. Visitors rely on currency exchanges in Macau or at its airport. Since the HKD is loosely tied to the U.S. dollar (USD), the pataca is commonly exchanged for the USD and vice versa in the territory.

Travelers to Macau can use patacas, Hong Kong dollars, and, in some cases the U.S. dollar.

Special Considerations

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

History of Macau

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

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

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.