MAS proposes new limits on payments made with coins

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) proposed a revised limit of 10 coins per denomination in a single transaction and invited feedback in a public consultation until April 6.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) proposed a revised limit of 10 coins per denomination in a single transaction and invited feedback in a public consultation until April 6.ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

Provision shop owner Shaik Alaudin provides a public service on top of selling assorted wares at his three outlets in Yishun and Toa Payoh.

His regular customers know they can go to him for an informal coin-exchange service, which can see transactions of up to a few hundred dollars in coins, totalling as much as $1,000 per week.

"Unlike banks, I do not charge a fee for exchanging coins to notes, as I believe in giving back to the residents in the area," said the 45-year-old businessman.

"I also accept payment in coins beyond the limits, as my products all cost less than $25."

He added that many of his suppliers, including newspaper distributors, accept large payments in coins despite prevailing rules under the Currency Act that entitle payees to reject payments made with coins exceeding legal tender limits.

  • CURRENT LIMITS

    $2

    For five-cent, 10-cent and 20-cent coins.

    $10

    For 50-cent coins.

    No limit

    For $1 coins.

The existing limits are pegged at a maximum of $2 per denomination for five-cent, 10-cent and 20-cent coins, and $10 for 50-cent coins.

No limits are in place for $1 coins.

In a release yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) proposed a revised limit of 10 coins per denomination in a single transaction, and invited feedback in a public consultation until April 6.

It gave "preventing acts of mischief, minimising inconvenience and cost in handling large quantities of low denomination currency" as the objectives of the new limit.

An online poll on the ST website found that out of 654 respondents, 424, or nearly 65 per cent, were against the proposal.

The Straits Times also interviewed 22 shop owners and shoppers in Toa Payoh and Bishan and found that most were ambivalent about the idea or objected to it.

Phone salesman Y.B. Fong, 35, once had a customer pay for a $50 portable charger using only 50-cent and $1 coins, but he remains neutral about the proposal.

"Other than that (incident), I do not think we have had many problems with customers paying with coins," he said. "I do not think this policy will change things very much except prevent a small group of people from bothering shop owners with many coins."

Meanwhile, medical student Peng Tao, 20, thinks he will never exceed the limits, but expressed concern that some would be affected by it.

"It may be inconvenient for old folk who are paid in coins, such as karung guni (men)," he said.

Student Chara Lam, 19, applauded the proposal: "You cannot expect shop owners to count all the coins; plus, it can hold up the line."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'MAS proposes new limits on payments made with coins'. Print Edition | Subscribe