The Malaysian ringgit has a fascinating history and growing modern relevance. As Malaysia steams into the 21st century with five decades of growth averaging 6.5% per year, you may soon find the need to buy Malaysian ringgit to visit or invest in this amazing Southeast Asian country.
Fast Facts: Malaysian ringgit
- Malaysian ringgit Symbol: RM
- Malaysian Currency Code: MYR
- Subunit: sen 1/100
- Coins: 5, 10, 20, 50 sen
- Banknotes: RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, RM100
- Malaysian GDP (nominal): $375.633 billion (35th)
- Central Bank: Bank Negara Malaysia
Malaysian Ringgit History
The word ringgit itself is an antiquated term for “jagged” in Malay and was used colloquially to refer to the Spanish dollar which had serrated edges. The Spanish dollar was brought to the country by Portuguese and Spanish traders.
Malaysia used the Malaya and British Borneo dollar until 1967 when Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei all began issuing their own currency. All three countries kept their currencies interchangeable and at par with one another. The initial rate was 8.57 dollars to 1 British pound. Malaysia dropped out of the common peg in 1973 but Singapore and Brunei retain this arrangement and their currencies remain at par with one another. In 1975 the Malaysian dollar was renamed in the Malay language to ringgit while cent was renamed sen. In 1993 the $ symbol was replaced by RM for Ringgit Malaysia.
Malaysian Ringgit Notes and Coins
The most recent series of coins was released in 2012 with the theme “Distinctively Malaysia”. The coins come in denominations of 5, 10 , 20 and 50 sen.
|5 sen||14 dots, 5 horizontal lines, pea tendrils, destar siga cloth motif of the Kadazan-Dusun tribes||Bank title, value, year of minting and the national flower|
|10 sen||14 dots, 5 horizontal lines, weave pattern of the Mah Meri people||Bank title, value, year of minting and the national flower|
|20 sen||14 dots, 5 horizontal lines, Jasmine flower, destar siga motif in background||Bank title, value, year of minting and the national flower|
|50 sen||14 dots, pea tendrils motif, fine lines||Bank title, value, year of minting and the national flower|
In early 2008 the country released a new series of banknotes with the theme “National Mission” in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 RM.
|RM 1||Blue||Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya – with the national flower and the songket – a traditional fabric pattern.||Wau Bulan – a type of moon kite – one of the country’s national symbols|
|RM 5||Green||Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya – with the national flower and the songket – a traditional fabric pattern.||Rhinoceros hornbill|
|RM 10||Red||Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya – with the national flower and the songket – a traditional fabric pattern.||Rafflesia – a flowering plant|
|RM 20||Orange||Hawksbill and leatherback turtle|
|RM 50||Blue and Green||Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya, oil palm trees|
|RM 100||Purple||Mount Kinabalu and pinnacles rock in the Gunung Api Valley|
Malaysian Ringgit Value
Between 1995 and 1997 the currency freely floated at around 2.50 to the US dollar but was down to 3.80 by the end of 1997 and 4.40 after the first half of 1998. The devaluation led to the the Bank Negara Malaysia pegging the currency to the USD at a rate of 3.80. In 2005 the Bank Negara removed the currency from its USD peg allowing the currency to move in a managed float against other currencies. By August of 2015 falling oil prices and some political instability led the currency to depreciate to 1 ringgit to 0.24 USD.
1 USD is currently (11AM, Apr 8 2016) valued at 3.8988 MYR
1 CAD is currently (11AM, Apr 8 2016) valued at 3.0025 MYR
Malaysia has a recently industrialised market economy. It is the third largest economy in Southeast Asia after the much larger Indonesia and Thailand. The economy is open but state oriented and one of the most competitive in the world. Industry makes up 36% of the country’s GDP, with Services at 56% and Agriculture at 7%. Malaysia is the only country in Southeast Asia to manufacture its own cars. The country is aiming to become a fully developed country by 2020 and boasted 6% growth in 2014 and an average of 6.5% growth over the last 50 years. Exports are a major contributor to GDP but the government is keen to diversify and is strongly promoting tourism to Malaysia. It is also a key center of Islamic banking in Southeast Asia, and knowledge based services are also expanding. Malaysia has one of the most developed infrastructures in Asia with many industrial parks and other incentives to encourage business.
Malaysian Ringgit Final Thoughts
The Malaysian ringgit is once again floating against other currencies (albeit in a managed float) and the country is steaming into the 21st century with one of the fastest growing and promising economies in the world.
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