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Singapore Dumps Top Denomination

Important government buildings appear on the back of the Singapore $1,000 bank note.

Important government buildings appear on the back of the Singapore $1,000 bank note.

Another one bites the dust. As of January 2021, the Asian city-state of Singapore will no longer issue $1,000 bank notes, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

It is anticipated the demise of the $1,000 note would follow that of the Singapore $10,000 bank note. The $10,000 note has not been issued since October 1, 2014. According to the MAS web site, the issuance of the five-figure value notes was “a pre-emptive move to mitigate the higher money laundering risks associated with large value cash transactions. However, existing $10,000 notes that are in circulation remain legal tender in Singapore.”

A S$10,000 bank note had an exchange rate of $7,420 US at the time this article was being written. Likewise, a S$1,000 note had an exchange rate of $742.

MAS announced a limited number of S$1,000 notes will remain available through the end of December and that those in circulation will remain as legal tender. MAS said most major jurisdictions have discontinued large denomination notes due to large denomination notes allowing individuals to carry large sums of cash anonymously. These large denomination notes are often the preferred payment methods for anyone involved in illicit activities including money laundering or terrorism financing.

MAS stated Singapore will now be “aligned with international norms.” Singapore is one of the few bank note-issuing authorities that continues to circulate high denomination bank notes. Brunei continues to issue a B$10,000 note with an exchange rate of $7,412 US, while Switzerland issues a 1,000-franc note that at the time this article was being written had an exchange rate of almost $1,100 US.

In comparison the highest denomination US bank note currently being issued has a face value of $100, China’s largest note is 100 yuan (about $20 US), and Thailand’s is 1,000 baht (about $44 US).

In the past the United States has issued bank notes in denominations as high as $100,000. Canada stopped printing its $1,000 Bank of Canada denomination in 2000. It is estimated there are still 700,000 of these Canadian notes outstanding. These notes, alongside Canada’s $1 and $2 notes that were replaced with coins, remain as legal tender. Once the notes or coins are redeemed the bank will remove them from circulation.

The European Union €500 denomination bank note remains as legal tender. The denomination was last produced in 2014 and has not been issued since April 27, 2019. The denomination, with an exchange rate of about $590 US, remains as legal tender.

According to the MAS web site, “MAS took over the currency issuance function following the merger with the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore (BCCS) in October 2002. All notes and coins issued since 1967 by MAS and the former BCCS are legal tender in Singapore and are fully backed by MAS’ assets. This indicates Singapore’s coins and bank notes are not fiat money due to being backed by assets.

Singapore’s current $$1,000 (as well as the $10,000) bank note was introduced in 1999 as part of the city-states’ fourth series of currency notes. Singapore’s first president, Encik Yusof bin Ishak appears in a vignette on the front with the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary buildings on the back.

The fourth or portrait series initially included seven denominations. The S$2, S$5, S$10, S$50, and S$100 continue to be issued. These notes replaced the third or ship series of notes that were issued in denominations between S$1 and S$10,000.

Singapore’s current third series of coins was introduced in 2013. Coins are issued in denominations of 5-, 10-, 20-, 50-cents, and S$1. While the portrait series of bank notes have the vignette of bin Ishak in common, the lion-head merlion is the common symbol appearing on all coins. All current coins are minted on multi-ply plated steel, this comprised of a steel core electroplated with layers of nickel over copper over nickel for the 10-, 20-, and 50-cent denominations (silver color), and brass over copper over nickel for the 5-cent and S$1 coins (gold color).