Malaysian Ringgit: The Essential Guide

The ringgit is the currency of Malaysia, the Southeast Asian nation known for its diverse peoples and landscapes as well as its thriving city centers. Although the Malaysian ringgit is sometimes used in border areas with other Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Thailand, it is not legal tender outside of Malaysia. Whether you want to know more about the Malaysian ringgit for travel or because you send money to the country, this guide covers ringgit history, exchange rates, and essential facts.

Malaysian Ringgit

The Malaysian ringgit’s currency code is MYR, and its central bank is the Bank Negara Malaysia, or the Central Bank of Malaysia. Also known as the Malaysian dollar, the ringgit comes in the following banknote denominations:

  • 1
  • 5
  • 10
  • 20
  • 50
  • 100

100 sen make up one Malaysian ringgit, or RM for short, and the coins come in denominations of 5 to 50 sen.

Malaysian Currency Timeline

The names of Malaysian banknotes and coins have changed over the years, both before and after Malaysia gained its independence from Great Britain.

Before Malaysian Independence

  • 16th through 19th century — the Spanish-American silver dollar
  • 19th century — the Straits dollar, Sarawak dollar, and the British North Borneo dollar
  • 20th century — Malayan dollar and the Malaya and British Borneo dollar

After Malaysian Independence

  • 1967 — the Malaysian dollar
  • 1975 — the Malaysian ringgit

Interesting Facts About Malaysian Ringgits

Ringgits are unique to Malaysia’s cultural identity, and it is fascinating to learn more about them.

1. The name comes from an old-fashioned term for “jagged.”

Ringgit means jagged in Malay, in reference to the 16th- and 17th-century Spanish coins that had jagged edges. Ringgit as an adjective is now obsolete, however, so you don’t have to worry about confusion when you’re discussing the currency.

2. Larger bills are not used.

You might have noticed that the highest denomination of the ringgit is only 100. There used to be denominations of 500 and 1,000 in the 1990s. The Central Bank of Malaysia demonetized these high amounts to help prevent money laundering.

3. Imagery on the ringgit and sen has a national theme.

The most current series of Malaysian ringgit notes and coins have “Distinctively Malaysia” as their theme. This theme embodies the culture and beauty of the country with depictions of famous scenery, wildlife, and traditions. You’ll also notice that all ringgits (RM) feature a portrait of Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

Here is what is depicted on each ringgit:

The coins or sen have the following depictions:

  • 5 sen — Destar Siga
    • A native form of fabric weaving
  • 10 sen — Orang Asli
    • The art of aboriginal tribes weaving leaves and plants into garments
  • 20 sen — Bunga melur
    • A jasmine flower
  • 50 sen — Sulur kacang
    • Pea tendrils

4. Commemorative banknotes and coins circulate, as well.

The Malaysian ringgits and sen have also featured commemorative designs for the following events throughout history:

5. It is a free-floating currency.

The Malaysian ringgit is considered a free-floating currency. This means that it has a floating, or fluctuating rate, which is determined by the foreign exchange market. The rate is dependent on the supply and demand of goods. This is the opposite of a fixed rate, which is determined by the government in most cases.

Understanding Malaysian Currency Exchange Rates

Understanding exchange rates can be very important, especially if you’re looking to send money abroad. You can find Malaysia’s current exchange rates according to the Central Bank of Malaysia.

More about the Malaysian Economy

Malaysia’s economy is the 38th largest in the world, and the fourth largest in Southeast Asia, according to the IMF. It’s a relatively affluent nation with a growing economy based on exports like electronics, petroleum products, and palm oil, and an affordable cost of living. Because of this, Malaysian citizens are less likely to immigrate abroad than others in the region. The greatest part of the Malaysia diaspora lives in neighboring Singapore, with significant numbers of people also settling in Australia.

Malaysian Ringgit

Sending Money to Malaysia

If you’re looking to send money to Malaysia from Singapore or Australia, or a number of other countries, money transfer apps like Remitly make it easy. You’ll have the option of sending to various banks or cash pickup locations around the country.

Once you determine how much you want to send, who you want to send it to, how they will receive it, and how quickly you want it to get there, you’re all set to transfer funds.

More About Remitly

Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, over 5 million people have used our secure mobile app to send money home with peace of mind.

Visit the homepage, download our app, or check out our Help Center to get started.

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