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International Finance

  1. Parallel Loan
  2. Current Account
  3. Ring-Fence
  4. Translation Exposure
  5. Key Currency
  6. Current Account Deficit
  7. International Finance
  8. Musharakah

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Key Currency: Definition & Overview

Updated: February 23, 2023

Every country around the world uses its own currency. For example, the United States uses the U.S. Dollar, Canada uses the Canadian Dollar, and England uses the British Pound Sterling. Every currency can be converted into another, but this happens at different rates. 

Are you wondering how these different rates are calculated? They come from a key currency. We put together this guide to break down everything you need to know about key currency. Read on to learn about its significance, some major pairs, and lots more!

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    • Key currencies are currencies that are widely used in trade and commerce on a worldwide scale.
    • The currencies of other nations may be pegged to a key currency or a basket of such currencies, and they are frequently held as reserves by global central banks.
    • The U.S. dollar, the Euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, the Canadian dollar, the Swiss franc, and the Mexican peso are the seven major currencies in use today.
    • There are additional challengers to this status quo such as the Chinese yuan.

    What Is a Key Currency?

    A key currency refers to a currency that is reliable, has little volatility, and serves as the basis for exchange rates in global transactions. Key currencies often determine the value of other currencies because of their widespread use. Additionally, the values of these currencies typically remain constant over time. 

    A significant currency typically originates from a nation that is economically developed, stable, and well-off, as well as one that participates in the international market.

    Key exchange rates are prone to daily fluctuations, and financial institutions and financial reporting sources may provide updated key exchange rates.

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    What Is the Significance of a Key Currency?

    Important currencies serve as the benchmark when determining exchange rates in the foreign exchange (forex) market and for international business transactions. The price of a country’s currency in relation to the currency of another country is known as the exchange rate, which includes both the home currency and the foreign currency.

    Quantities of reserve currencies are held by national central banks. These countries benefit from having a reserve currency to sustain investments, conduct international trade, and service foreign debt. These banks may also possess important currencies to affect the exchange rate in their home country. 

    Since a significant portion of commodities, including gold and oil, are priced in the main reserve currency, other nations must hold this currency in order to purchase these things.

    Which Is the International Key Currency?

    The leading international key currency is the U.S. dollar. It has been the leader for the past 70 years and it is often used by other countries to measure the value of their own currency. 

    The U.S. dollar serves as the basis for other currencies in a positive feedback cycle, and other nations invest in it as a safe haven, which ultimately strengthens the dollar even more. As a result, just under 60% of the world’s foreign exchange reserves are made up of the USD.

    However, as the USD has lost favor as a major reserve currency, the dollar’s standing has started to decline.

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    What Are the Major Key Currency Pairs?

    A currency pair is an estimation of the value of one currency in relation to another in the foreign exchange market. The reference currency is referred to as the quote currency, while the other currency is referred to as the base currency. Some of the most important currency pairs are as follows:

    There are 5 major key currency pairs. They are as follows:

    1. Euro and U.S. Dollar (EUR/USD)
    2. British Pound Sterling and U.S. Dollar (GBP/USD)
    3. U.S. Dollar and Japanese Yen (USD/JPY)
    4. U.S. Dollar and Canadian Dollar (USD/CAD)
    5. U.S. Dollar and Swiss Franc (USD/CHF)

    Examples of Key Currencies

    It is generally accepted that there are 7 key currencies in use throughout the world. They are as follows: 

    1. U.S. dollar (USD)

    The U.S. dollar has for over 70 years been the dominant major currency in the world economy. Because of the U.S. dollar’s global worth and stability, many other countries invest in it to gauge the value of their own currencies.

    2. Euro (EUR)

    The second-most important international currency after the U.S. dollar is the Euro, which serves as the official unit of exchange for the European Union (EU).

    3. British pound sterling (GBP)

    The official currency of the United Kingdom is the British pound sterling, which historically has had a significant influence on the world economy.

    4. Japanese Yen (JPY)

    The Japanese Yen is regularly matched in the foreign exchange market and is commonly utilized as a reserve currency.

    5. Canadian dollar (CAD)

    The Canadian dollar has an interesting history and was the first currency that was allowed to float back in 1950.

    6. Swiss franc (CHF)

    The Swiss Franc is a very strong and stable currency and is renowned for its neutrality. The nation’s banks have adhered to a policy of confidentiality since the Middle Ages.

    7. Mexican peso (MXN)

    The Mexican peso is the most traded currency in Latin America and the fifteenth most traded currency overall.


    Key currencies are the leading currencies in the global economy. Historically, major countries or continents have had the leading currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the Great British Pound, and the Euro. 

    National banks hold key currencies as a form of reserve currency. This helps these nations to support themselves and support various investments.

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    FAQS on Key Currency

    Can I Trust Key Currency?

    Yes, key currencies are known for their stability and wide range of use.

    What Are Major Currencies?

    The major currencies are the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the British pound, the Japanese yen, the Canadian dollar, the Swiss franc, and the Mexican peso.

    What Is the Strongest Currency?

    The strongest currency is the U.S. dollar.


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