The CFP franc (called the franc in everyday use) is the currency used in the French overseas collectivities (collectivités d’outre-mer, or COM) of French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. The initials CFP originally stood for Colonies Françaises du Pacifique (“French colonies of the Pacific”). This was later changed to Communauté Financière du Pacifique (“Pacific Financial Community”) and then to the present term, Change Franc Pacifique (“Pacific Franc Exchange”). The ISO 4217 currency code is XPF.
The CFP franc was created in December 1945, together with the CFA franc, used in Africa. The reason for the creation of these francs was the weakness of the French franc immediately after the Second World War. When France ratified the Bretton Woods Agreement in December 1945, the French franc was devalued in order to set a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. New currencies were created in the French colonies to spare them the strong devaluation of December 1945. René Pleven, the French minister of finance, was quoted saying: “In a show of her generosity and selflessness, metropolitan France, wishing not to impose on her far-away daughters the consequences of her own poverty, is setting different exchange rates for their currency.” The CFA franc and the other colonial currencies were set at a fixed exchange rate with the French franc. However, the CFP franc was set at a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, which played a major role in the economy of the French Pacific territories on account of World War II. That situation ended in September 1949 when the CFP franc was given a fixed exchange rate with the French franc.
The CFP franc has been issued by the IEOM (Institut d’émission d’outre-mer, “Overseas Issuing Institute”) since 1967. The IEOM has its headquarters in Paris.
The currency was initially issued in three distinct forms for French Polynesia, New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. (See French Polynesian franc, New Caledonian franc and New Hebrides franc.) Wallis and Futuna used the New Caledonian franc. Although the banknotes of the New Hebrides bore the name of the territory, the notes of French Polynesia and New Caledonia could only be distinguished by the name of the capitals (Papeete and Nouméa, respectively) on the reverse of the notes.
In 1969, the New Hebrides franc was separated from the CFP franc and was replaced by the Vanuatu vatu in 1982.
The new highest denomination 10,000 CFP franc banknote (€83.80) issued on 1 October 1986, was the first one that was not overprinted with a city name. The 500 franc banknote, issued in 1992, and the 1000 and 5000 franc banknotes, issued in 1995, are also without the overprint. The designs of the 500, 1000, 5000 franc banknotes did not change till 2014, when new designs and sizes were introduced.
Today, all banknotes are strictly identical from New Caledonia to French Polynesia. One side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of French Polynesia, while the other side of the banknotes shows landscapes or historical figures of New Caledonia.
The coins are still separated in two sets: one side of the coins is identical from New Caledonia to French Polynesia, while the other side of the coins is inscribed with the name Nouvelle-Calédonie in New Caledonia and in Wallis and Futuna, and with the name Polynésie française in French Polynesia. Both sets of coins can be used in all three French territories. The situation of the CFP coins is thus quite similar to that of the euro coins, which have a national side but can be used in all countries of the eurozone.