The Singapore dollar (sign: S$; code: SGD) is the official currency of Singapore. It is divided into 100 cents. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or S$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore issues the banknotes and coins of the Singapore dollar.
As of 2016, the Singapore dollar is the twelfth-most traded currency in the world by value. Apart from its use in Singapore, the Singapore dollar is also accepted as customary tender in Brunei according to the Currency Interchangeability Agreement between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam). Likewise, the Brunei dollar is also customarily accepted in Singapore.
Between 1845 and 1939, Singapore used the Straits dollar. This was replaced by the Malayan dollar, and, from 1953, the Malaya and British Borneo dollar, which were issued by the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo.
Singapore continued to use the common currency upon joining Malaysia in 1963, but only two years after Singapore's expulsion and independence from Malaysia in 1965, the monetary union between Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei broke down. Singapore established the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Singapore, on 7 April 1967 and issued its first coins and notes. Nevertheless, the Singapore dollar was exchangeable at par with the Malaysian ringgit until 1973, and interchangeability with the Brunei dollar is still maintained.
Initially, the Singapore dollar was pegged to the pound sterling at a rate of two shillings and four pence to the dollar, or S$60 = £7, working out to 8.57 dollars to the pound sterling. This peg lasted until the demise of the Sterling Area due to the Nixon Shock in the early 1970s, after which the Singaporean dollar was linked to the US dollar for a short time. As Singapore's economy grew and its trade links diversified to many other countries and regions, Singapore moved towards pegging its currency against a fixed and undisclosed trade-weighted basket of currencies from 1973 to 1985.
Before 1970, the various monetary functions associated with a central bank were performed by several government departments and agencies. As Singapore progressed, the demands of an increasingly complex banking and monetary environment necessitated streamlining the functions to facilitate the development of a more dynamic and coherent policy on monetary matters. Therefore, the Parliament of Singapore passed the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act in 1970, leading to the formation of MAS on 1 January 1971. The MAS Act gave the MAS the authority to regulate all elements of monetary, banking, and financial aspects of Singapore.
From 1985 onwards, Singapore adopted a more market-oriented exchange regime, classified as a Monitoring Band, in which the Singapore dollar is allowed to float (within an undisclosed bandwidth of a central parity) but closely monitored by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) against a concealed basket of currencies of Singapore's major trading partners and competitors. This, in theory, allows the Singaporean government to have more control over imported inflation and to ensure that Singapore's exports remain competitive.
On 1 October 2002, the Board of Commissioners of Currency Singapore (BCCS) merged with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which took over the responsibility of banknote issuance.
As of 2012, the total currency in circulation was S$29.1 billion. All issued Singapore currency in circulation (notes and coins) are fully backed by external assets in its Currency Fund to maintain public confidence. Such external assets consists of all or any of the following: (a) gold and silver in any form; (b) foreign exchange in the form of demand or time deposits; bank balances and money at call; Treasury Bills; notes or coins; (c) securities of or guaranteed by foreign governments or international financial institutions; (d) equities; (e) corporate bonds; (f) currency and financial futures; (g) any other asset which the Authority, with the approval of the President of Singapore, considers suitable for inclusion.
In 2017, the government, in the second reading of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Amendment) Bill 2017, announced that the Currency Fund will be merged with other funds of the MAS, because the currency in circulation is effectively backed by the full financial strength and assets of MAS, which is much larger than the Currency Fund. As at 31 March 2017, MAS's assets (S$395 billion) were more than seven times larger than the assets of the Currency Fund (S$55 billion). The proposed amendment will merge the Currency Fund with the other funds of MAS and streamline MAS's operations. The Government has said that its support for the currency in circulation, as set out in the Currency Act, remains unchanged.