The franc is the official currency of the two Congolese nations: the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. This decimalized currency has a hundredth subunit called the centime. The Central Bank of Congo is responsible for issuing the Congolese Franc. The Central Bank of Congo has been an institution since 1909, when the country was a Belgian colony, and the bank was established as the Bank of Belgian Congo. The bank has undergone several revisions since its establishment. The Bank of Belgian Congo became the National Bank of Congo in 1964, four years after the country gained its independence. The bank was known as the Bank of Zaire from 1971 to 1997, upon which the Central Bank of Congo was established.
The franc became the official currency in Congo due to the franc being the official currency of Belgium. Congolese francs were issued specifically for use in the colony. In 1967, the country adopted the zaire as the official currency at a rate of 1 zaire: 1000 Congolese francs. The zaire was subdivided into 100 makuta and each makuta was subdivided into 100 sengi. Even after the sengi was devalued into non-existence, many Congolese still write cash amounts with three decimal places. Hyperinflation caused the rapid devaluation of the zaire, and it was reintroduced in 1993 as the new zaire. The new zaire was valued at a rate of 1 new zaire to 3 million old zaire.
The new zaire fared no better than the old zaire. After five years of rapid economic inflation and currency devaluation, the Congolese franc was reintroduced. The value of the new Congolese franc was set at 1 Congolese franc: 100,000 new zaires. This made one new Congolese franc valued at 3 trillion old zaires. The issuance of the new Congolese franc came one year after the country changed its name from Zaire to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congolese francs are circulated solely as banknotes. Coins in Congolese francs are limited only to a few designs for numismatic collectors. The first series of banknotes included denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes and 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs. In 2000, a 200-franc note began circulation followed by a 500-franc note in 2002.