NPR had a fascinating interview with the Afghan Central Bank’s Currency Adviser. They’ve introduced Afghanistan’s new currency. Previous to this date, different provinces would publish their own money, and afghani’s would use Pakistani or American currency as opposed to the old Afghan currency. That currency was so devalued that one would need a bag of it to pay the rent.

What I found most interesting was that the the interim period where the new currency being exchanged for the old currency, many afghani’s didn’t want to spend it – they wanted to keep them as memento’s until the exchange period was over. Reason? According to the adviser, the currency served as a symbol of change and of the new unified Afghanistan. Is this the first incarnation of the brand we call the nation state that is tangible enough for each afghani to touch, own and use?

The flag, a temporal intangible concept, will take years to sink in, as it will require the individual to assign it real personal experiences in relationship to citizenry. But money – here’s a symbol that has immediate impact on one’s personal life. It carries national meaning, and for the first time, it has real value and worth.

More information on currency design can be found here.
American Currency Design Challenges