10 most unusual money options in the world


Some countries refuse cash. And in others, they still pay with shells…

Money option

A choice of money in Micronesia photo: Pinterest

There are more and more cash payment options in the world. Contactless cards, mobile systems such as Apple Pay, bitcoins are rapidly gaining popularity and becoming familiar settlement tools.

But apart from them, there are still surprising and strange options for money in the world. Some of them have been used for centuries and are relevant to this day. We have collected some of the most interesting “alternative currencies” from around the world.

Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano-Regigo)

Where: Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy
When: 1953 – Today
Cost: $ 300 per head of cheese

Parmesan Money Options

Parmigiano-Resigno is a type of Parmesan cheese. Its ripening period is two years, during which local farmers can be almost without cash flow. Italian bank Banco Emiliano takes cheese as collateral for a loan. Thus, farmers receive the necessary finance until they can sell their goods.

If farmers do not repay the loan, the bank sells cheese at $ 300 per head. The bank’s vault, which contains $ 187 million worth of cheese, was attacked three times by “cheese thieves”, the last time it happened in 2009.

Stones of heaven

Where: Yap Island, Micronesia
When: 500 A.D. – our day
Cost: Each stone has its own specific value.

Money substitute for heaven stones

Rai stones are large stone discs made of aragonite or calcite limestone with a hole in the middle. Typically, there is an oral tradition about the origin of a stone, which is a story about the transition from hand to hand and current owner. And as interesting as his story is, the stones of heaven are as expensive. For example, the more people died in the manufacture or transportation of stone, the higher was its value.

Many stones are too large or fragile to move, so very often exchange or sales transactions are concluded verbally. For example, once transported by kayak, the stone of heaven fell and sank. The local residents came to the conclusion that he should live on the seashore, but he could still be dealt with.

To this day the stones of heaven are used as an alternative to money in social transactions, such as marriage, inheritance or political settlement.

Mobile operator account

Where: Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Mozambique, Egypt, Romania and Albania
When: 2011 – Today
Cost: Money on mobile account is equal to 1: 1 payment instrument


In countries such as Kenya, where banking services are poorly developed, mobile operators started offering people an unusual service – to pay goods with mobile money, which was previously used to pay for calls and SMS was to. This solution is called M-Pesa and today it is very popular in its field.

Canadian Tire

Where: Canada
When: 1958 – Today
Cost: Available denominations – 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, $ 1 and $ 2.


For more than 50 years, there has been another form of currency in Canada other than the dollar. It has been published by Canadian Tire since 1958. This retail chain with a wide range of products, ranging from kitchen utensils to car accessories, is used as a reward scheme for customers. While shopping at gas stations or convenience stores, customers received coupons of a fixed face value, which could be used to pay for goods on subsequent purchases.

Tires have become so popular that other businesses have started taking them as well. Canadian folk singer Corinne Raymond used the Canadian terrace to finance her album. And a once-a-year local bar in Toronto that hosts “nights of Canadian tairas”.

In the mid-90s of the last century, it was reported that a man was detained in Germany with fake Canadian Taaris in the amount of $ 11 million. The same fraudster was detained in Georgia – he had fake coupons worth $ 45 million.

Silver leaves

Where: New Hampshire, USA
When: 200 When – Today
Cost: Face value – $ 1, $ 2, $ 3, $ 6 and $ 30, but the cost can vary depending on gold and silver


In the early 21st century, many traders in New Hampshire who advocated the Free State Project movement (a political movement designed to make New Hampshire home to libertarianism in 2001) used gold and silver as an alternative to money Started accepting. Particularly broad pieces of silver in the form of cards. The value of each card is proportional to the weight of the metal contained inside.

The creators of such an alternative currency claim that they received orders for the production of silver cards from around the world. Since such payment instruments are based on precious metals rather than paper, New Hampshire silver makers expect the currency to hold its value for a longer period of time.


Where: Laguna Langa Langa, Solomon Islands
When: 1200 BC – our day
Cost: The price of sea pearl alone is $ 1,000 Solomon Islands

Alternative to shell money

The Seychelles were used as a currency as early as 1200 BCE. And this day was used by the inhabitants of Laguna Langa Langa in Solomon Islands.

Shells are used to make jewelry, which is a payment tool among the local population in the form of livestock, purchasing land, resolving disputes and even dowry. Locals sell these ornaments to travelers for more traditional forms of money, which they later use to buy goods from neighboring islands. Over time, seahorses become increasingly rare, and therefore their costs increase.

Tea block

Where: China, Mongolia, Tibet and Central Asia
When: 19th century – 1935
Cost: Depends on the quality of the tea leaves used; The last recorded cost is one rupee per block.


Made from pressed tea leaves, tea bricks were used as currency in some Asian countries until the outbreak of World War II. Tea blocks were used to purchase livestock or pay taxes. In some countries, such as Mongolia, Siberia and Tibet, they were also superior to coins, as they could be used to treat coughs and colds. They were also eaten when other foods were scarce.

bottle cap

Where: Cameroon
When: 2005
Cost: $ 1

Bottle caps

In 2005, a brewery in Cameroon began offering prizes under the lid of beer bottles to increase sales. When competing companies did the same, competition so increased that the prize was under almost every cover. Gifts range from complimentary beer to sports cars. And people started exchanging caps at a price of $ 1 per cap (like the price of a beer bottle) for various goods and services.

Demonetisation, or emergency money

Where: Use cases have also been reported in Germany, and Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and France
When: 1922 – 1923
Cost: According to the marked price on the banknote


After World War I, Germany experienced a period of hyperinflation, which arose after the loss of confidence in the national currency. Germany’s central bank, which struggled to meet the demand for the brands, released NotGeld or Extraordinary Money. Most often, they were made of paper, but leather, wood, and even cards were used, as prices rose almost twice every 28 hours. By November 1923, the value of 1 US dollar was four trillion German marks.

100 quintal pangos

Where: Hungary
When: 1946
Cost: about 75 cents


After the end of World War II in Hungary, prices rose twice every 15 hours, resulting in the country experiencing the highest level of hyperinflation ever. The government was forced to announce a new inflation rate on the radio every morning so that workers could negotiate a new wage with management.

The 100 quintal pangos were the largest denomination of the current legal tender. In par, they were worth $ 45. In Hungary, banknotes in the denomination of 100 sextillion were already ready for the issue, but the Pango currency was canceled. Earlier, we had already prepared a list of countries where the devaluation of wealth was even more widespread.

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Read: Who has the most beautiful money: Overview of interesting banknotes around the world


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