PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Speculation that the Malaysian ringgit will continue to weaken has led many Malaysians to stock up on United States and Singapore dollars in the hopes of a profitable cashout in the near future.
There has been obvious increase in demand for both currencies in Malaysia lately, with some moneychangers even running out of stock.
Imbasan Kapital at Ikano Power Centre was left with just US$1,500 when The Star paid it a visit yesterday, and its staff revealed that not many customers were selling the currency to them at the moment.
Spectrum Forex in Nu Sentral revealed that they currently face a Singapore dollar shortage.
"A lot of people asked for the Singapore dollar this morning. It has been like that throughout the past week," said worker Azlan Mohammad.
A check at Jaya Shopping Centre's Benchmark Alliance showed that it currently has about US$10,000 to meet demand after having a surprisingly quiet weekend.
"It has slowed down a bit. People are now waiting for the exchange rate to go even higher. Some are hoping that the US dollar could go up to RM3.96 in three months' time. Then you'll see people selling," said Mr Rizuan Sulaiman, a clerk.
Mr Mohd Ali from Malik Maju moneychanger in Subang Parade echoed that sentiment.
"People now want to keep and wait for it (US dollar rate) to hit the magic RM4.00 mark," said Mr Mohd.
But not everyone believes that customers were merely buying for investment.
"Even if you buy US$1,000 and it goes up, how much can you earn from that?" asked a Halasuria moneychanger employee based in Ikano, who wished to be known as Jason.
He believed that people were also stocking up for the year-end holiday season in advance.
But in George Town, a moneychanger is finding it difficult to sell his stock of US dollars since the exchange rate went above RM3.80 to US$1.
His stock recently shot up when a long-time customer brought US$20,000 to change last week.
"Now I have US$38,000 in stock and no buyers. The dollar is getting too strong," said M. Mohamed Kassim.
He said most of his greenbacks came from local customers and not tourists.
"Many Penangites work for foreign companies and get paid in US dollar bills.
"Tourists will only change US$50 to US$100 each time. Penangites will sell much more," he said.
His chief executive officer Zubeir Mohd Ishak said their stocks of foreign currencies were all rising, but US dollars were the most significant.
Mr Zubeir said many analysts expect the dollar to hit RM4 by year-end and a few customers had bought some to keep, but most people were selling their US bills.
Housewife Leena Bansal from India was among those who were selling the currency yesterday.
Clutching a handful of US$100 notes, she said she happened to have some left over from her recent travels, and was selling to make a little profit.
Not everyone, however, is selling.
Photographer B.T. Lim said he bought US$2,000 three years ago when it was only RM2.90.
"I'm not selling now even though it will be a profit of almost RM2,000. I prefer to hold on to US dollars," he said.