The dollar is the official currency of Singapore and is unofficially accepted in Brunei. As with most dollar currencies, it has a subdivision of 100 cents. Singapore has used a dollar currency since 1845, but it was not until 1967 that the Singapore dollar was introduced. The first dollar used in Singapore was the Straits dollar, which was used throughout several British colonies in Southeast Asia. This was replaced in 1939 with the Malayan dollar until the Malaya and British Borneo dollar was introduced in 1953. Singapore became a part of Malaysia in 1963, but was expelled as an independent nation in 1965. This began the breakdown of Malaysian currency use in both Singapore and Brunei. To solve the problem of currency in Singapore, the government created the Singapore Board of Commissioners of Currency in 1967 and began issuing Singapore dollars in the form of coins and bank notes the same year. The dollar was initially pegged to the pound sterling at the rate of 60 SGD: 7 GPB, but it maintained an on-par exchange rate with the Malaysian ringgit until 1973.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was established in 1971. The two primary purposes of MAS are to engineer sustained economic growth with zero inflation and to serve as the backbone of the country’s financial sector. Duties of MAS include acting ast he central bank of the Singapore, overseeing payment systems, supervising financial services, managing Singapore’s foreign reserves and developing Singapore into an international financial centre. Today, the MAS also functions to regulate the nation’s insurance and securities industries.
One of the first acts by the MAS was to peg its currency to a secret trade-weighted basket of foreign currencies. This lasted from 1973 to 1985, when the Singapore dollar was allowed to float. Even though the Singapore dollar has floated since 1985, it is diligently maintained through comparison to a secret basket of currencies thought to include the country’s major trading partners and trade competitors. All Singapore dollars in circulation are required to be backed by foreign reserves. As of 2011, foreign reserves are just over 213 billion AUD.
All Singapore coins and banknotes are issued by the MAS. Coins are minted by the Singapore Mint and are currently circulated in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and $1. Singapore dollar banknotes have been issued in four series’. The first series’ were the Orchid Series, Bird Series and Ship Series. The latest is the Portrait Series.