MAS says limited quantities of bicentennial $20 notes still available; over 400 sales listings of bill online

While many sellers offer the notes for marked-up prices of between $25 and $40, some are offering them for as much as $1,688 for five notes. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM CAROUSELL.COM

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday (June 11) that the new $20 notes issued to commemorate Singapore's 200 years of history has seen strong demand from members of the public and limited quantities of it are still available at some banks.

Members of the public do not need to be customers of the bank to be able to exchange for the commemorative note at the counter.

Since the note became available on Monday, more than 400 new listings of the bill have sprung up on online marketplaces at marked-up prices.

While many online sellers offer the notes for marked-up prices of between $25 and $40, some are offering them for as much as $1,688 for five notes.

A check by The Straits Times on online marketplaces eBay and Carousell found that there were about 10 listings for the note on eBay and more than 400 listings on Carousell.

The $20 notes were launched on June 5 by President Halimah Yacob.

Two million pieces of the commemorative note were made available across nine major retail banks in Singapore from Monday and quickly sold out at many branches.

MAS, which issued the note, said that each person is allowed to exchange up to 20 pieces of the note per transaction.

One Carousell seller of the notes, who did not wish to be named, said she decided to list a few of the bills for sale as she had many of them.

"Even if they are not sold, I will save them and give them to friends and family in red packets for special occasions," she said.

Many also sold the notes with the folders they came in and listed the serial numbers of the bills.

  • Where the Singapore Bicentennial note is still available (as of June 11):

  • OCBC Bank: OCBC Centre

    Citibank Singapore: Parkway Parade

    Industrial and Commercial Bank of China: Ang Mo Kio, Holland Village, Paya Lebar, Punggol, Sembawang, Simei

    HSBC Bank: Alexandra, Bukit Timah, Collyer Quay, Holland Village, Jurong, Marine Parade, Orchard Dhoby Ghaut, Raffles Place, Serangoon Garden, Suntec City, Tampines

When contacted, an MAS spokesman said that while the law does not prohibit a person from selling the commemorative notes online, "we encourage Singaporeans to collect the notes as keepsakes as they are a one-off issue to commemorate Singapore's Bicentennial".

Carousell said that it encourages its buyers to do their own research before buying any items, and not to proceed with a transaction if they feel uncomfortable at any point.

"We allow the buying and selling of items as long as the transactions do not violate our rules, community guidelines and terms of service," said Carousell.

The $20 bill was first introduced as part of the bird series of notes in 1979 and was later discontinued due to low demand from the banks and the public.

MAS last issued a $20 commemorative note in 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Currency Interchangeability Agreement with Brunei.

The latest $20 commemorative bicentennial bill depicts Singapore's journey to nationhood and pays tribute to forefathers who laid the foundations for modern Singapore.

The notes, which came with a specially designed folder, featured Singapore's first president, Mr Yusof Ishak, along with the former supreme court and city hall - now the National Gallery Singapore - at the front, and eight pioneers who made significant contributions to nation-building across various fields, in the back.

Local artists Eng Siak Loy and Weng Ziyan designed the note.

Commemorative notes, like the bicentennial one, are usually very high in demand in the first few days of their launch when the public receives them from the bank and resells them, noted Mr Leon Lee, manager of Monetarium Singapore.

His company specialises in auctioning and selling rare coins and banknotes.

"But since the supply is plentiful, there will usually not be an increase of more than 10 to 20 per cent in the resale price, eventually," he said, noting that many of the higher mark-ups for the new $20 bill now may not find buyers.

However, Mr Lee said that the currency's serial number could help it command a higher resale value.

"Notes with certain 'golden numbers' or combinations can demand a higher premium. These include notes with serial numbers (lower down the list), in the early one or two digit values - such as 0001, 0002 - as well as notes that end with auspicious or repeated number combinations," said Mr Lee.

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