SINGAPORE - New $20 notes issued to commemorate Singapore's 200 years of history were all snapped up at some bank branches on Monday (June 10), the first day the note was available for exchange.
Long queues were seen at many branches across the island from early morning.
Five banks, responding to media queries, told The Straits Times that at least 40 per cent of their stocks had been depleted due to overwhelming demand.
The note, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to mark Singapore's bicentennial year, depicts the journey to nationhood. It was launched by President Halimah Yacob last Wednesday.
Two million pieces of the commemorative note are available for exchange at face value at the branches of nine major retail banks from Monday (June 10).
Each individual is allowed to exchange up to 20 pieces of the note per transaction.
OCBC's head of branch service and risk management Jean Oh said "overwhelming public interest" in the $20 notes led to almost 80 per cent of the bank's stocks exchanged by the end of the day.
"Within the first three hours of our branches opening, six to seven branches had already run out of notes," said Ms Oh.
At HSBC Singapore, its head of retail banking and wealth management Anurag Mathur said the queues started forming even before the bank's branches opened for business.
Forty per cent of its allocated notes had been snapped up by early afternoon.
Meanwhile, DBS, POSB and United Overseas Bank (UOB) reported that the notes were out of stock at about half of bank branches.
Citibank, which did not provide a percentage of the commemorative notes distributed, said it had exchanged about 33,000 notes across seven of its branches on Monday.
When The Straits Times visited the OCBC branch at Toa Payoh Central on Monday evening, it had already run out of the notes. But at least four customers were seen trying their luck.
A retiree who wanted to be known only as Mr Poh and his wife went to the bank at around 6pm.
"We were coming here for dinner and my wife likes to collect these notes, so we thought we would try, but all the banks here already ran out of stock," said Mr Poh, 76.
"Maybe each person should have been allowed to exchange less than 20 pieces so that more people can get the notes," he added.
Mr Eng Wah, 50, who works in the cyber security industry, said the OCBC branch was the second one he visited after he did not manage to get the new $20 notes at a UOB branch in Bukit Panjang.
Meanwhile, some of those who succeeded in getting their hands on the new notes were already trying to make a quick buck.
Several listings were seen on online marketplace Carousell, with the asking price going as high as $388.
However, members of the public may still be able to get the $20 notes at some bank branches.
For OCBC, the branches include those at OCBC Centre, ION Orchard, Kallang Wave Mall, Holland Village and Jurong Point.
Citibank branches include those at Asia Square, Capital Square, Holland Village, MacDonald House and Jurong East.