Swiss Franc (CHF)

The Swiss franc is the name of the official currency and legal tender in Switzerland and Liechtenstein as well as in Campione d’Italia – an Italian exclave in the border region between Italy and Switzerland. The euro is also accepted as a method of payment in most of the country due to the fact that Switzerland is surrounded by four major euro nations – Austria, France, Germany, and Italy. 1 Swiss franc is divided into 100 rappen.

During the first half of 2017, the Swiss franc was considered the 9th strongest currency in the world squeezing itself in between the United States dollar (10th) and the euro (8th).

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Abbreviations and Names of the Swiss Franc

Switzerland has four official languages and therefore also four official names for the currency. In German the currency is called franken and rappen, the French names are franc and centimes, the Italian name is franco and centesimi, and the Romansch name is franc and raps. In the English language, a combination of the four names is used: franc and rappen.

The official ISO-4217 code for the Swiss franc is CHF – CH standing for Confoederatio Helvetica which is the original Latin name for Switzerland. There are several shorter versions used for the currency in writing, such as Fr. and SFr, as well as Rp. for rappen.

Due to the many languages that are spoken in the country, the CHF has gained many different nicknames and here are a few of them:

German: 1 stuz (1 Fr.),  2 Fränkler (2 Fr.), 5-Liiber (5 Fr.)

French: Ameise (1000 Fr.), Thune (5 Fr.)

Denominations

Switzerland and the Swiss franc currency have been around for several hundred years and have gone through many dramatic changes during that time. Currently, the currency exists in 13 different denominations – 7 coins and 6 banknotes.

Coins:

  • 5 rappen
  • 10 rappen
  • 20 rappen
  • 50 rappen / half franc
  • 1 franc
  • 2 francs
  • 5 francs

Bills:

  • 10 franc
  • 20 franc
  • 50 franc
  • 100 franc
  • 200 franc
  • 1000 franc

 

All coins in Switzerland are language-neutral to avoid confusion and in respect of the country’s four official languages. Therefore, they only have the numeric value and Fr. printed on them, as well as Helvetia or Confoederatio Helvetica depending on the coin’s size. The smallest coins have the word Libertas printed on them instead of Helvetia.

The Swiss coins have been printed at different times and exist in a few different versions and series.

Unlike the coins, all Swiss bills have the information and value printed in all four national languages. If the bill is depicting a German person its value is written in German and Romansch on the obverse side. If the bill is depicting a French or Italian person it has the value written in French and Italian on the obverse side. The other two languages are printed on the reverse side of the bill.

The following people are printed on the bill in order of 10 to 1000: Le Corbusier a Swiss-French architect and designer, Arthur Honegger a Swiss composer born in France, Sophie Taeuber-Arp a Swiss-German painter and designer, Alberto Giacometti a Swiss-Italian sculptor and painter, Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz a French-speaking Swiss writer, and Jacob Burckhardt a Swiss historian of art.

The current bills are the eighth series and they were released in 1995. One of the biggest differences from the prior version is that the old 500 franc bill was replaced with the more practical 200 franc bill. Swiss banknotes are considered some of the safest in the world.

History of the Swiss Franc

Before the Helvetic Republic was created in 1798, there were 75 different entities printing currencies in Switzerland and they all had their own monetary systems. This resulted in close to 1,000 different denominations. As you can imagine it was a confusing system and in 1798 the first Swiss franc was introduced. It was based on the Berne Thaler that had been one of the leading currencies in the region before the republic was founded.

The new currency survived until 1803 when 19 new currencies were introduced and used for another 12 years. In the year 1815, a new attempt to unify the country under one currency was made. But 5 years later no progress had been made and there were over 8,000 different coins circulating in the tiny nation. Most of the currencies used were produced in other countries.

In 1848 the new federal government ruled that they would be the only ones allowed to print and regulate a currency in the country. This was the first step towards the Swiss franc that is used today.

In 1865 Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Italy created a currency union called the Latin Monetary Union. The union only lasted for a few decades and when it was dissolved Switzerland decided to keep the currency at the same exchange rate.

The Swiss Franc Today

In 1936 the Swiss franc experienced its first and only devaluation as a result of the Great Depression. The currency quickly bounced back and since then the CHF has been a global phenomenon and a safe-haven with barely any inflation and a strong gold reserve.

Today, it is one of the world’s top ten highest valued currencies and is therefore used as a major reserve currency. It is currently the 6th most used reserve currency after the United States dollar (USD), the euro (EUR), the Japanese yen (JPY), the pound sterling (GBP), and the Canadian dollar (CAD).

Trade the Swiss Franc

The CHF is one of the most traded currencies in the world due to its extreme stability and high value, and that’s how it’s been for the last 20 years. In 2016 the Swiss franc ranked as the 7th most traded currency, representing a total of 4.8% of the daily share, just after the Canadian dollar (5.1%) and the Chinese Yuan (4.0%).

CHF/USD

Because the CHF/USD are two of the world’s most reliable currencies, two of the largest reserve currencies, and two of the most traded currencies, they are immensely popular to buy and sell on the foreign exchange market. The currency pair offers good opportunities for both quick and longer trades and is recommended for traders with any skill level.

The Swiss franc is one of the leading currencies in Europe and is therefore often traded with other leading currencies such as the EUR, GBP, and SEK.