Fiji Reserve Bank releases 88-cent numismatic banknote with Chinese wealth and fortune imagery

Fiji Reserve Bank releases 88-cent numismatic banknote with Chinese wealth and fortune imagery

The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) has begun issuing a Chinese-themed 88-cent commemorative banknote, which has been causing a stir with many questioning the timing and significance of the release.

The 88-cent collectors’ item was released on the eighth day of the eighth month of the year.

The number eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture, bringing wealth and fortune — and the more eights the better.

Accompanying the lucky Chinese number, one side of the note features an image of the Chinese god of wealth and a money tree.

The words “Good luck and good fortune. May prosperity be yours” are printed in the corner.

The other side has a hibiscus flower, the Fiji coat of arms and the Governor of the Reserve Bank’s signature.

The note is available for purchase from the RBF for FJ$28 ($18), but as it is numismatic, and so purely for collectors, it will not be in circulation.

The front of the banknote features Fijian symbols alongside the Chinese lucky number denominational value. (Fiji Reserve Bank)

Why has it been released?

The issue of the note has raised eyebrows and sparked a flurry of confusion on social media.


People joked about the worth of the 88-cent currency, while others questioned why the RBF would release the note at a time when China’s growing influence in the Pacific has been causing diplomatic tension.

Following the “misinformation and speculation on social media,” the RBF issued a clarification statement.

It said the banknote was created to generate sales income targeting the Chinese and wider Asian market, adding that “NO NEW $0.88 numismatic banknotes will be entering into circulation”.

“The newly-announced $0.88 numismatic banknote is among the hundreds of non-circulation numismatic currency that the RBF has produced since 1974,” the statement said.

“The practice is similar to that of stamp production, whereby hobbyists can purchase the banknotes and coins for their collections.”

In the past, the RBF has issued banknotes and coins with Christmas imagery, celebrities, landmarks and Fijian fauna themes.

While it is common for the RBF to issue themed numismatics banknotes and coins, Biman Prasad — the leader of the National Federation party — said they are usually produced with a specific intention.

“They are normally produced to mark commemorative events of both national and sometimes international significance,” Mr Prasad told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program.

“I think the controversy is, what does it mean? What does this commemorate?”

De La Rue — a British company that collaborated with the RBF to design and produce the banknote — said it was released to bless people with fortune in challenging times.

“This theme was chosen because it was felt appropriate to wish people wealth and good fortune in the context of challenging global events,” De La Rue said.


The RBF has generated over $8 million in income through the sale of numismatic banknotes and coins.

Mr Prasad said it is odd for the bank to be focusing on raising funds when there are more important issues to address.

“The Reserve Bank should be really concerned about other issues, particularly inflation and high cost of living,” he said.

Suspicion vs celebration

The Chinese community in Fiji is small but significant.