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There’s been talk of a new currency for the Brics emerging economies group, but it doesn't exist yet and has no value

IN SHORT: While the creation of an alternative currency to reduce the dominance of the US dollar is attractive to some countries, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa bloc hasn’t launched one.

As the 15th Brics summit took place in late August 2023, social media was abuzz with rumours of a new currency to challenge the dominance of the US dollar in cross-border trade. 

“Brics currency is out,” claimed one Facebook post which was reposted 1,500 times. Another Facebook post by Breaking News RSA had thousands of interactions, sayingthe currency was “set to launch”, with “1 Brics = $50”. 

Another post, with over half a million views on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter), showed a series of Tiktok videos claiming the exchange rate was or would be 1 bric to US$55. Other Tiktok videos were also popular, such as here, here and here. One post even showed examples of supposed brics notes and coins. 

But what’s really going on with the Brics currency? Does it already exist , or will it soon, with one “bric” equal to $55? We looked into it. 

BricsCurrency_False

What is ‘Brics’?

Brics is an acronym for the group of “emerging” economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The term was coined in 2001 by a prominent economist to describe countries with growing importance on the global economic stage.

In 2023 Brics is a partnership of countries working to promote economic cooperation among themselves and to strengthen their respective political and economic positions.  

In late August, representatives of these and other countries met in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 15th Brics summit. (Russian president Vladimir Putin attended virtually.)

Brics currency does not exist – at least, not yet

While the expansion of Brics to include other countries was high on the agenda, delegates also discussed the creation of a common currency. Despite initial indications that it would not be on the agenda, the issue was raised by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. 

Calls to challenge the dominance of the dollar have been made before by Lula and others, inside and outside of Brics. But, as Al Jazeera reported, experts noted that “recent geopolitical shifts and growing tensions between the West and Russia and China have brought them to the fore”.

Nearly 90% of international transactions are conducted in US dollars. The “de-dollarisation” of global trade would mean that other countries would not be vulnerable to the fluctuations in the dollar’s exchange rate. The Brics countries have long sought to reduce their reliance on the dollar, with different reasons for supporting a new currency. 

While the concept has been discussed in theory, that’s as far as has gone so far. Despite Russian state news reports in July that the currency “is set to” be introduced, Africa Check could find no good evidence or confirmation of this. The currency does not exist, and it is unclear whether it will in the future.

In an interview with a local media outlet after the summit, South Africa’s finance minister Enoch Godongwana seemed to pour cold water on the currency. 

The value of a dollar

What seemed to attract the most interest from social media users was the supposed exchange rate of the new currency to the dollar. Most posts had suggested that 1 bric would be equal to $55. 

It is unclear where this exchange rate figure came from. An article from October 2022 recorded the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Russian ruble as 55.3, so $1 equaled 55.3 rubles. It is possible that this was interpreted backwards, as $55 being equal to 1 ruble, as may have been implied in this tweet, which said “Brics Currency Is Out, 55 US Dollars Is Equivalent To 1 Brics Rubbule”.

But what a Brics currency would be worth is not clear. Some news outlets have suggested it could be based on a basket of member countries’ currencies. But since the currency doesn’t exist, it doesn’t have a value. And experts say creating the currency is a complex, distant prospect. Until it’s created, it’s all speculation.

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