need to buy malaysian ringgit notes bills cash money

Malaysia Currency Spotlight: Malaysian Ringgit

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

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

FXtoGO buy currency red button

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.

Value Obverse Reverse
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.

Value Colour Obverse Reverse
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 Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya – with the national flower and the songket – a traditional fabric pattern. Hawksbill and leatherback turtle
RM 50 Blue and 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. Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya, oil palm trees
RM 100 Purple Tuanku Abdul Rahman – first Supreme head of State of the Federation of Malaya – with the national flower and the songket – a traditional fabric pattern. 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

MYR to 1 USD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

1 CAD is currently (11AM, Apr 8 2016) valued at 3.0025 MYR

MYR to 1 CAD

MYR to 1 CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

Malaysian Economy

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 coins pile money

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.

buy currency red button

Order Malaysian ringgit with FXtoGO!


Whether you need to buy Malaysian ringgit or one of many other currencies, we’ve got you covered with FXtoGO! You can also track the exchange rate of your favourite currency with Rate Watch.

For a broader understanding of Malaysian history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to Malaysia then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

Stay informed. Stay Current.