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What Does Demonetized Mean?

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Last editedAug 20212 min read

What options do countries have when the time comes to make changes to their national currency? One process is demonetization, which involves stripping value from currency or other assets. We’ll answer the question of “what is demonetization” in this guide, along with the reasons why it happens.

What is demonetization?

When a country decides to change its currency, it does so through the process of demonetization. The meaning of demonetization of currency involves removing the currency’s value as legal tender. To do this, banknotes and coins are removed from circulation and replaced with new ones. The old currency units become worthless. Because they’re no longer recognized as legal tender, you can’t use them to purchase goods and services any longer.

So, what does demonetization mean for the country? It’s just one option in the government’s economic toolkit, often used to fight inflation or stabilize currency value.

How does demonetization work?

Demonetization is used to replace one currency with a new one. The process starts when a country decides to discontinue their former currency, pulling all existing banknotes from circulation. The country’s population must be given ample time to exchange their currency before it loses its value. These changes don’t happen suddenly; instead, fair warning is given to the population, and the old currency is slowly phased out as notes are pulled from circulation and replaced with new ones.

Reasoning behind demonetization

Demonetization can be a disruptive process, so why would countries choose to use this type of economic intervention? Here are a few scenarios:

  1. To fight hyperinflation of the current currency.

  2. To prevent counterfeiting, tax evasion, and other criminal activity.

  3. To implement new currency due to new political alliances or other macroeconomic conditions.

Real-world examples of demonetized meaning

Although it’s not particularly common, demonetization has been used over the years by countries for some of the reasons mentioned above. One prime example is India’s demonetization in 2016. The Indian government announced that it planned to discontinue all ₹500 and ₹1,000 bank notes in order to combat the prevalence of counterfeits. This led to short-term cash shortages because citizens rushed to exchange their notes for new ones.

Another modern example of the demonetization meaning in practice occurred in 2002 during the EU’s transition to the unified Euro currency. Before this date, each country had its own form of currency. The European Central Bank started preparing for the transition beginning in 1998 to be sure they’d have adequate currency for all the countries involved. Banks throughout the EU were provided with the new currency months in advance, ensuring there would be plenty to go around as citizens went in to exchange their old currency.

Pros and cons of demonetization

As you can see from the examples above, demonetization offers both advantages and disadvantages. When implemented with plenty of advance notice, the process can run smoothly and offers several positives:

  • It reduces criminal activity including counterfeiting and terrorism, as old currency becomes worthless.

  • It cuts down on tax evasion, since those holding onto old currency must exchange it.

  • Demonetization offers a push to a cashless economy with more convenient online payments.

There are also several potential disadvantages of demonetization, including:

  • It can cause chaos and cash shortages if not carefully planned.

  • Printing and minting new currency involves significant cost.

  • Criminals can simply purchase non-currency assets like gold and property.

Other uses of demonetization

Although demonetization is most frequently used in economics, it’s also a term used when talking about online revenue and business. For example, YouTube demonetization happens when the platform’s content creators are denied paid advertisements for their videos. This type of online demonetization strips content creators of revenue as a result. YouTube demonetization usually happens as a result of changes to the platform’s algorithm. The same thing can happen on social media platforms like Facebook. When a Facebook page is demonetized, it’s usually due to rule violations.

Whether you’re talking about the meaning of demonetization of currency or YouTube videos, both examples boil down to the same concept. Demonetization essentially means that the asset no longer holds any monetary value. 

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