The franc is the currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is subdivided into 100 centimes.
Currency denominated in centimes and francs (Congolese frank) was first introduced in 1887 for use in the Congo Free State (1885-1908). After the Free State's annexation by Belgium, the currency continued in the Belgian Congo. The francs were equal in value to the Belgian franc. From 1916, the Congolese franc also circulated in Ruanda-Urundi (present day Rwanda and Burundi) and, from 1952, the currency was issued jointly in the names of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi. After the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960, Ruanda-Urundi adopted its own franc, whilst, between 1960 and 1963, Katanga also issued a franc of its own.
The franc remained Congo's currency after independence until 1967, when the zaïre was introduced, at a rate of 1 zaïre = 1,000 francs.
In 1887, holed, copper coins were introduced in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 centimes, together with silver coins worth 50 centimes, and 1, 2, and 5 francs. Coins ceased to be minted of silver in 1896. Holed, cupro-nickel 5-, 10- and 20-centime coins were introduced in 1906, with the remaining copper coins (worth 1 and 2 centimes) minted until 1919. Cupro-nickel 50-centime and 1-franc coins were introduced in 1921 and 1920, respectively.
The coinage of Belgian Congo ceased in 1929, only to be resumed in 1936 and 1937 for the issue of nickel-bronze 5-franc coins. In 1943, hexagonal, brass 2-franc coins were introduced, followed by round, brass coins worth 1, 2 and 5 francs, and silver 50-franc coins, between 1944 and 1947.
In 1952, brass 5-franc coins were issued carrying the name "Ruanda-Urundi" for the first time.
Aluminum coins worth 50 centimes, 1 and 5 francs followed between 1954 and 1957. In 1965, the only franc-denominated coins of the first Democratic Republic of Congo were issued, aluminum coins worth 10 francs.
As with Belgium's own coins, some types were issued in two distinct versions, one with French legends, the other with Dutch legends.
In 1896 the Independent State of Congo issued 10 and 100 franc notes. In 1912, the Bank of Belgian Congo introduced 20 and 1000 francs, followed by notes of 1, 5 and 100 franc notes in 1914. The 1-franc notes were only printed until 1920, whilst 10 franc notes were introduced in 1937. 500 francs were introduced in the 1940s, with 10,000 francs introduced in 1942.
In 1952, the Central Bank of Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi introduced notes for 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs, with 500 and 1000 francs added in 1953.