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This forex course basics section covers the currency codes and nicknames used in the forex market.
As in any large financial market, the forex market has its slang terms and nicknames for currencies, exchange rates and other elements relevant to trading in the forex market.
Also, the currencies of the world each have a three letter currency code designation assigned by the International Organization for Standardization or ISO for standardization purposes. These currency codes are collectively referred to as the ISO 4217 Standard.
The ISO 4217 code for currencies is typically made up of three letters. The first two letters represent the country and are also sometimes referred to as the Internet country code. The third letter refers in some way to the first letter of the currency.
For example, the Japanese Yen’s ISO 4217 code is JPY, and the JP part represents Japan while Y stands for Yen. The same holds true with the Pound Sterling which has the code GBP. GB represents Great Britain, also known as the United Kingdom, while P stands for Pounds or Pounds Sterling, the country’s currency.
Major and Minor Currencies’ ISO 4217 Codes and Symbols
Besides the three letter ISO codes, many countries use a special character or symbol for their currency. The table below lists the issuing country, their national currency, along with the ISO 4217 codes and their currency symbols for the major and minor currencies:
- United States Dollar USD $
- European Union Euro EUR €
- United Kingdom Pound Sterling GBP £
- Japan Yen JPY ¥
- Switzerland Swiss Franc CHF
- Australia Australian Dollar AUD A$
- New Zealand New Zealand Dollar NZD NZ$
- Canada Canadian Dollar CAD C$
Forex Market Currency Nicknames
Besides the standard ISO 4217 three letter codes, currencies also have been given nicknames. These sometimes colorful monikers have been popularized in currency dealing rooms, in market commentaries, by brokers and dealers talking to their clients, and more recently by retail forex traders holding online discussions about the forex market.
What follows are some of the more common currency and currency pair nicknames, along with a brief explanation when available:
- USD – The U.S. Dollar: The Dollar, Buck or Greenback.
The first two nicknames are in common use among professional traders for this currency. Greenback is not a popular term among dealers but is often used by market commentators and refers to the color printed on the reverse side of the paper currency notes.
- EUR – The European Union’s Euro: The Euro, Fiber or Fibre.
Fiber has only recently been used, and then largely in the retail forex market since the Euro is a relatively new currency. The term fiber arises, according to some, because Euro bills are made of pure cotton fiber. Others suggest that it was an analog to the Cable nickname for GBP/USD since EUR/USD transactions are now done via fiber optic cable.
- JPY – The Japanese Yen: The Yen.
No other nicknames are common for this currency among forex dealers.
- GBP – Britain’s Pound Sterling: Pounds, Quid, Sterling, Cable.
The first three nicknames refer to the currency, with Quid being plural, but Cable refers specifically to the GBP/USD exchange rate. Apparently, it came about because that exchange rate was historically transmitted via the Trans-Atlantic telegraph cable which was laid in the late 1800’s between London and New York.
- CHF – Switzerland’s Swiss Franc: The Swissie or Swissy, and the Chief.
The Swissie nickname is used mostly by professional dealers, while the Chief seems to be gaining some minor popularity in the retail forex market and derives from the CHF code for the currency.
- CAD – The Canadian Dollar: Canada, Funds, Loonie.
The funds nickname comes from the shorter than normal value date of USD/CAD, while the Loonie nickname arises from the name of the Canadian national bird, the loon, that is depicted on the one dollar Canadian coin.
- AUD – The Australian Dollar: The Aussie.
Nicknamed after a native of Australia who is also known as an Aussie. This nickname is common among all types of forex dealers.
- NZD – The New Zealand Dollar: The Kiwi.
Widely used among forex traders, the Kiwi nickname for this currency arises from the flightless kiwi bird found only in New Zealand. The bird is a national symbol of the country and is depicted on the New Zealand one Dollar coin. New Zealand natives are also often known as Kiwis.