The breakup of supply chain in the former Soviet enterprises demanded that goods be bought and sold on the market, often requiring cash settlement. The Belarusian unit of the USSR State Bank did not have capacity or the licence to print Soviet banknotes, hence the government decided to introduce their own national currency to ease up the situation with cash. The German word Taler (Belarusian: талер), divided into 100 hrosh (Belarusian: грош) was suggested as the name for a Belarusian currency, however the Communist majority in the Supreme Soviet of Belarus rejected the proposal and stuck to the Russian word ruble.
From the collapse of the Soviet Union until May 1992, the Soviet ruble circulated in Belarus alongside the Belarusian ruble. New Russian banknotes also circulated in Belarus but they were replaced by notes issued by the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus in May 1992. The first post-Soviet Belarusian ruble was assigned the ISO code BYB and replaced the Soviet currency at the rate of 1 Belarusian ruble = 10 Soviet rubles. It took about two years before the ruble became the official currency of the country.
In 2000, a second ruble was introduced (ISO code BYR), replacing the first at a rate of 1 new ruble = 1000 old rublei. This was redenomination with three zeros removed. Only banknotes have been issued, with the only coins issued being commemoratives for collectors.
From the beginning of his presidency in 1994, Alexander Lukashenko began to suggest the idea of integration with Russian Federation and to undertake steps in this direction. From the beginning, there was also an idea of introducing a united currency for the Union of Russia and Belarus. Art. 13 of the 1999 "Treaty of Creation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus" foresaw a unified currency. Discussions about the Union currency has continued past the 2005 implementation goal set by both nations. Starting in 2008, the Central Bank of the Republic of Belarus announced that the ruble will be tied to the United States dollar instead of the Russian ruble.[dubious– discuss] "Stanislav Bogdankevich, a former bank chairman, called the decision political, saying it was tied to Belarus' open displeasure at Russia's decision to hike oil and gas export prices to Belarus earlier this year. Belarus' economy is largely Soviet-style, centrally controlled and has been heavily reliant on cheap energy supplies from Russia".
Belarus is a large producer of commemorative coinage for the collectors markets, most particularly gold and silver bullion coins and non circulation legal tender. The first coins of the Republic of Belarus were issued on December 27, 1996. The designs of such range from fairly ordinary to unique and innovative and themes range widely from "native culture and events" to fairy tales and pop culture topics not relating to Belarus at all. A majority of these coins are denominated with a face value of 1 ruble, with a few denominated in 3 ruble and 5 ruble as well. All these coins are considered novelties and are not likely to be seen in general circulation.
Official circulation coinage has yet to be introduced, making Belarus one of the few countries in the world never to have issued coins. The reasons for this are largely due to an endemic problem with rampant inflation which has been a problem since independence.
In 2009 and years since, there has been talk of rebasement and a Third Ruble; the plans for such a revaluation include a set of coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 Kopecks and 1 Ruble. Slovakia has offered to mint these coins and has provided prototypes. However, despite plans for revaluation and the introduction of coinage, this has yet to occur and no coins have been introduced.
In 1992, banknotes were introduced in denominations of 50 kapeykas, 1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 rublei. These were followed by 20,000 rublei in 1994, 50,000 rublei in 1995, 100,000 rublei in 1996, 500,000 rublei in 1998 and 1,000,000 and 5,000,000 rublei in 1999.
In 2000, notes were introduced in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 rublei. In 2001, higher denominations of 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 rublei were introduced, followed by 100,000 rublei in 2005. There are no coins or banknotes issued in kapeykas.
"On 1 September 2010, new rules of Belarusian orthography came into force. According to the old rules, the correct spelling of the word “fifty” in Belarusian was “пяцьдзЕсят,” but under the new rules, it should be spelled “пяцьдзЯсят,” the difference being that the seventh character was the Cyrillic letter IE but is now the Cyrillic letter YA. As a result of these new rules, the existing 50- and 50,000-ruble notes dated 2000 now technically contain errors where the denominations are spelled out on the notes. On 29 December 2010, the National Bank of Belarus introduced new 50- and 50,000-ruble banknotes to bring the inscriptions on the notes into compliance with the new rules of Belarusian spelling and punctuation. The images, colors, and sizes of the notes remain consistent with the preceding issues of the same denominations dated 2000. The modified 50-ruble notes also no longer has a security thread, and the modified 50,000-ruble notes have replaced the solid security thread for a 2-mm wide windowed security thread."
On January 2, 2009, the Central Bank of the Republic of Belarus lowered the exchange rate of the ruble by 20%.
On May 24, 2011, the Central Bank of the Republic of Belarus lowered the exchange rate of the ruble by 56%. Alexei Moiseev, chief economist at Russia's VTB Capital, said at the time that "a '91-style meltdown is almost inevitable," referring to the crisis which accompanied the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
On October 20, 2011 the exchange rate of the Belarus ruble dropped 34.2% (from Br 5,712 to Br 8,680 per USD) when it was fully floated following demands to do so by Russia and the IMF.