Overwhelming demand for $20 commemorative note

Each person is allowed to exchange for up to 20 pieces of the new $20 note in each transaction. Long queues were seen at many bank branches across the island, including the OCBC branch in Toa Payoh Central (above), from early yesterday morning.
Long queues were seen at many bank branches across the island, including the OCBC branch in Toa Payoh Central (above), from early yesterday morning.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

5 banks see at least 40% of total stocks depleted after first day of exchange

New $20 notes issued to commemorate Singapore's 200 years of history were all snapped up at some bank branches yesterday, the first day the note was available for exchange.

Long queues were seen at many branches across the island from the early morning.

Five banks, responding to media queries, told The Straits Times that at least 40 per cent of their overall stocks had been depleted due to overwhelming demand.

The note, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore 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 were made available for exchange at face value at the branches of nine major retail banks from yesterday.

Each person is allowed to exchange for up to 20 pieces a transaction.

Ms Jean Oh, OCBC Bank's head of branch service and risk management, said overwhelming public interest in the $20 notes depleted almost 80 per cent of the bank's stock 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," she said.

Queues like this one at Hougang Mall formed outside banks yesterday as thousands of people tried to get their hands on a special collector's item. Just what was it that drew these people to wait so patiently? SEE TOP OF THE NEWS A5
Waiting in line to snag a piece of history: Queues like this one at Hougang Mall formed outside banks yesterday as thousands of people tried to get their hands on a special collector's item. Just what was it that drew these people to wait so patiently? PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Each person is allowed to exchange for up to 20 pieces of the new $20 note in each transaction. Long queues were seen at many bank branches across the island, including the OCBC branch in Toa Payoh Central (above), from early yesterday morning.
Each person is allowed to exchange for up to 20 pieces of the new $20 note in each transaction. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Mr Anurag Mathur, head of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Singapore, said queues started forming even before the bank's branches opened for business. Forty per cent of its allocated notes were snapped up by early afternoon.

Meanwhile, DBS Bank, POSB and United Overseas Bank said that about half of their branches were out of the new notes.

 

Citibank would say only that it had exchanged about 33,000 notes across seven of its branches yesterday.

When The Straits Times visited the OCBC branch in Toa Payoh Central yesterday evening, it had already run out of the notes. But at least four customers were seen trying their luck.

A 76-year-old 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.

"Maybe each person should have been allowed to exchange fewer than 20 pieces so that more people can get the notes," he added.

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 for one note going for as high as $488.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Overwhelming demand for $20 commemorative note'. Print Edition | Subscribe