Pound Sterling - GBP

GBP is the abbreviation of Great British Pound. The pound, or sterling as it is also known, is the official currency of the United Kingdom and some of its overseas territories. It is also the currency used in UK crown dependencies the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. There are numerous currencies which are pegged to the pound. These include the Guernsey pound, the Manx pound and the Gibraltar pound to name a few.

Sterling is one of the most widely traded currencies in the world after the US dollar, euro and Japanese yen. It accounts for around 13% of daily trading volume on global foreign exchange markets and is the oldest currency still being used as legal tender.

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FAQ

Got questions? We have all the answers about the Pound Sterling

When was the British pound introduced?

The British pound has its roots way back in 8th century Anglo-Saxon England, when it was the equivalent of a pound weight of silver. By the 12th century, the coinage had started to be minted from sterling silver - a stronger mix of silver and other metals, which would not wear down so quickly. This became the standard - the pound sterling.

Over time, as with all major currencies, sterling became a currency established by government regulation rather than having its own intrinsic value. Paper money started to be issued, and coins are used as tokens rather than because they are - in themselves - worth much.

Fast forward to more recent times, and the decimalized pound as we now know it was introduced in 1971. Decimalization removed old units like shillings, so one pound sterling can simply be counted as 100 pennies.

Is Pound sterling the same as British pound?

If you hear someone talk about pounds sterling, or even just sterling currency, they’re likely talking about British pounds.

How to type British pound symbol?

You’ll see the symbol £ used for pounds sterling, as well as the currency code GBP.

What countries use the British pound?

The pound is used in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

British Crown dependencies such as the islands of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man use pounds which are locally issued, but fully equivalent to British pounds sterling.

Pounds are also used - sometimes alongside another, local currency - in some other countries and territories, including Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, and Tristan da Cuhna. In these regions, the currency is guaranteed to be equivalent to the pound sterling by the local government.

It’s worth noting that some other countries also use a currency called the pound, which is not connected or equivalent to British pounds sterling. For example, the currency used in Egypt, Syria or Sudan is also called the pound, but is not in any way tied to sterling.

Best exchange rate for British pound?

The exchange rate for dollars - or any other currency - to pounds sterling changes all the time, according to market demand. To find the exchange rate for your currency, you can use a simple Google search, or get an online currency converter tool which will tell you the mid-market exchange rate.

The mid-market exchange rate is the one shown on currency converters and reputable sources like Reuters, because it’s the rate used by banks when they buy and sell currency on global currency markets. It is worth noting, however, that this may not be the exchange rate you’re given when you change currency yourself.

When getting travel money, or sending a payment overseas as a retail customer, banks and payment providers often add a markup to the exchange rate they use. This is an extra fee and makes it tricky to see exactly what you’re paying for your transaction.

To get the best rate available, compare the exchange rate you’ve been offered against the mid-market exchange rate, or choose a provider which only uses the mid-market rate for currency conversion, such as TransferWise.

How much is a British pound?

The price of the pound rises and falls along with the market. To find out how much the pound will cost today, you’ll need to check out the latest exchange rates, which are available online or using a currency converter tool.

What is the lowest the pound has ever been against the US dollar?

In February 1985, one British pound would buy you only USD1.09. This was the weakest the pound has ever been against the US dollar, which was riding high on the currency markets.

More recently, the pound has been volatile against the dollar, hitting the lowest point since 1985 in March 2020, at around USD1.14 to the pound.

What is the lowest the pound has ever been against the euro?

The pound hit its lowest point against the euro at the end of December 2008. On 29 December 2008, one pound was worth only EUR1.02.

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