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Queues at money changers as Singdollar hits all-time high against Malaysian ringgit

Consumer demand for the Malaysian ringgit rose on Tuesday (May 24) as the Singapore dollar continued strengthening against regional currencies and snaking queues were spotted at money changers in the afternoon.

The Singapore dollar was at a record high of RM3.1984 by 3.30pm on Tuesday after starting the year at RM3.0857.

This prompted queues at money changers across the island, with Singaporeans taking the chance to exchange currencies at good rates for their upcoming travel.

Nearly every money changer at the Arcade in Raffles Place saw queues of 10 to 15 people.

Mr Barakath Ali, managing director of Aramex International Exchange, said he expects the high demand for the ringgit to prevail as it continues to weaken against the Singapore dollar, and people are keen to go to Malaysia to shop.

"It is helping the recovery in the money changing industry, but business is still not back to pre-Covid-19 levels. Recovery is still some time away."

Mr Nabeel Ghaffar, chief executive of Exchange International, a wholesaler of currencies, said it is not just the ringgit that is in high demand as travel resumes across the region.

He added that the Thai baht and the Japanese yen are also in demand, as are the Indonesian rupiah and the Vietnamese dong.

"No matter what the price is, people just want to get out and travel," he said.

His company also owns online currency exchange provider Thin Margin, which is selling the Singapore dollar at a rate of RM3.161.

Mr Salim Majeed, who runs Million Dollar Exchange at Westgate, said he expects the high rates to last.

"But business remains at around 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic days," he said.

"It will take a long time for it to pick up as some countries remain closed to travellers."

    Mr Abdul Haleem, a partner at City Money Changers at the Arcade, said it is more about the time of year rather than the rates that draws people to change money.

    "A few weeks ago, many were buying ringgit for the Labour Day weekend," he said.

    "It is less about the rates and more about the time period. We will see more people buying ringgit in June, when the school holidays come."

    Crown Exchange finance manager Kizher Shajahan Mohamed Ismeth said he noticed more people buying ringgit in the last two weeks.

    "The ringgit is getting weaker but you never know," he said.

    "Most of our customers are buying to go back to Malaysia, and not really stocking up because they cannot predict whether the rate will fall or rise. The Covid-19 situation is very volatile, so the exchange rate is also unpredictable."

      Most customers The Straits Times spoke to said they were buying ringgit to travel to Malaysia.

      Madam Xylia Kong, 54, a trade support executive, said she plans to go to Johor Bahru in two weeks' time. She changes about $500 to $1,000 at a time.

      Broker John Lau, 30, said he was also buying ringgit for his upcoming trip, rather than as an investment.

      Ms Salmina Jaafar, a 59-year-old housewife who was in a queue of about 16 people at ARJ money changer at Lot 1, said: "It is good for me because this means that I can buy groceries in Malaysia at a cheaper price than in Singapore."

      • Additional reporting by Jocelyn Teo and See Yi Ro
      Singapore Dollarmalaysia