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Seigniorage refers to the profit that a government makes by issuing currency, particularly the difference between the face value of the currency and the cost of producing it. This profit arises because the cost of creating money is typically lower than its actual value in circulation. Governments can use seigniorage as a source of revenue for covering expenses or reducing national debt.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Seigniorage” is: ˈseɪn-yə-rɪdʒ.

Key Takeaways

  1. Seigniorage is the profit made by a government or central bank from issuing currency, typically achieved when the production cost of the currency is less than its face value.
  2. It serves as a source of revenue for governments or central banks and can be used to finance public expenditures, repay debts, or strengthen their financial reserves.
  3. Excessive seigniorage can lead to inflationary pressures and currency devaluation, especially if the increase in money supply is not correlated with economic growth or increased demand for goods and services.


Seigniorage is an important concept in business and finance because it represents the profit earned by a government or monetary authority from minting new currency and issuing it into circulation, which typically arises from the difference between the face value of currency and the cost of producing it. This process offers governments a unique revenue source with potential influence on the nation’s fiscal policy and monetary stability. It holds significant relevance in assessing monetary policies, as profits earned through seigniorage can contribute to government revenues and help manage inflation, thus maintaining the purchasing power of a currency and fostering economic growth. However, if mismanaged, excessive seigniorage can lead to inflationary pressures and negatively impact the financial system.


Seigniorage serves as a critical financial concept that aims to measure the gain a government or monetary authority acquires through producing and distributing currency. It represents the difference between the cost of production (printing or minting) and the nominal value assigned to a unit of currency, resulting in profit for the issuer. This additional revenue can then be used to fund government projects and expenditures without the need for additional taxation. Seigniorage benefits governments by enabling them to indirectly monetize debt and inject liquidity into the economy when required to accelerate economic growth. In recent times, seigniorage is more prominently associated with central banks who oversee the creation of new money through the expansion of their balance sheets. This process allows central banks to lend funds, acquire assets, or manipulate interest rates and exchange rates through the purchase or sale of currency and bonds with the goal of managing money supply and promoting desired economic outcomes, such as optimal inflation levels and steady growth. Seigniorage thus grants central banks the ability to mitigate economic downturns and maintain financial stability while supporting fiscal policies, translating to a more robust and efficient allocation of resources within the economy.


Seigniorage is the profit earned by a government from issuing its national currency, specifically the difference between the face value of currency (e.g., coins and banknotes) and the cost of producing it. Here are three real-world examples: 1. U.S. Mint Coin Production: The United States Mint produces coins for circulation and earns seigniorage on the difference between the face value of the coins and the cost of production. For example, in 2019, the U.S. Mint reported a seigniorage of $318.3 million, with the profit resulting from the Mint’s production of dimes and quarters, which cost less to produce than their face value. 2. Central Bank of Nigeria: The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has experienced seigniorage revenue through the issuance of the national currency, the Nigerian Naira. In 2020, the CBN reported a seigniorage revenue of ₦161.9 billion, representing the difference between the face value of currency issued into circulation and the cost of production and distribution. 3. European Central Bank Euro Issuance: The European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks of the Eurosystem also earn seigniorage by issuing Euro banknotes and supplying coins. Seigniorage profits from Euro banknotes are distributed to the national central banks, which then transfer a share of the profits to their respective national governments. In 2018, for example, the ECB reported approximately €1.8 billion in seigniorage revenue from the issuance of Euro banknotes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is seigniorage?
Seigniorage is the profit generated from the difference between the cost of producing currency (such as coins or banknotes) and their actual face value. This profit is typically realized by the central bank or government that issues the currency.
How does seigniorage work?
Seigniorage occurs when a central bank issues new coins or banknotes. The cost of producing the currency is less than its face value, allowing the issuer to make a profit. This profit can be utilized to fund government spending or reduce public debt.
What is the historical context of seigniorage?
The term “seigniorage” has its origins in feudal Europe, where lords (seigneurs) would mint their own coins and profit from the difference between the cost of production and the coins’ face value.
How do governments and central banks benefit from seigniorage?
Seigniorage serves as a source of revenue for governments and central banks, as the profit generated can be used to finance public spending, support economic growth, or reduce existing debt burden.
Is seigniorage a form of taxation?
Seigniorage can be considered an indirect form of taxation, as it may result in inflation if the newly issued currency leads to an increase in the money supply. This can cause a decrease in the purchasing power of existing currency, which affects all citizens holding the currency.
Does seigniorage affect the exchange rate?
Seigniorage can influence exchange rates when there is a significant increase in the money supply, leading to inflation. High inflation rates may cause the domestic currency to depreciate against other currencies.
Can seigniorage lead to hyperinflation?
Excessive reliance on seigniorage as a source of revenue can lead to hyperinflation. This occurs when a government or central bank continuously prints money to cover its expenses, causing a rapid increase in the money supply, decreased purchasing power of the currency, and skyrocketing inflation rates.
How can seigniorage be managed responsibly?
To manage seigniorage responsibly, central banks should maintain an appropriate balance between issuing new currency and managing inflation rates. They must closely monitor economic indicators like money supply, inflation, and exchange rates to ensure that their policies support economic stability rather than cause harmful inflation.

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