Hours before banks opened for business, lines formed outside bank branches for the launch of the SG50 commemorative notes on Thursday morning (Aug 20).
As of 8am, about 50 people were queuing outside the POSB branch in Tampines and another 30 were queuing outside the nearby DBS branch. Outside the POSB and DBS branches in Tampines, queues started forming at about 6am.
Among those in the queue outside the DBS branch were Ms Janet Yap, 59, who said she wanted the notes because the S$50 features founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
“We were scared they would run out of the notes, so we wanted to change the maximum of five for our family. We want the notes because the photo of founder Mr Lee Kuan Yew is there on one of the notes,” she said.
Mr Kana RK, 43, said he joined the queue for the notes at 8am. "I came here to get the notes as a gift for my pioneer generation: My parents and in-laws. It's a meaningful gift, especially for my mum who came to Singapore in 1965."
Ms Joanne Lin and her husband Steve See, both 30, also said they would try to get the maximum quota of notes. “I think it's something of memory that we would want to keep for our kids,” Ms Lin said.
65-year-old Annie Ng said she only had to wait 30 minutes to purchase the notes. "They gave priority queue numbers to the elderly so we didn't have to wait that long," she said.
Elaine Ong, 34, said "the priority was the S$50 note which have Mr Lee Kuan Yew on it".
"He's our founding father and I really think without him we wouldn't be what we are today," she said. "There are so many more countries that are so much older than us, but they've not achieved anything like us."
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled the set of commemorative notes, which includes a S$50 polymer note and five S$10 polymer notes.
Starting Thursday, the public can exchange the SG50 commemorative notes at face value at branches of nine major retail banks – DBS Bank/POSB, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, United Overseas Bank, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of China, HSBC, Malayan Banking Berhad, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to exchange the SG50 commemorative notes, there will be a quota of five sets of notes per transaction per individual. Singaporeans will be given priority to exchange the notes, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
"From Oct 1, 2015 onwards, the SG50 notes will be made available to non-Singaporeans as well," said MAS.
Together with a set of three commemorative coins launched in April this year, the notes complete the set of SG50 commemorative currencies issued by Monetary Authority of Singapore to mark Singapore's 50 years of nation-building.
UOB and DBS/POSB have said that they will be extending banking hours and setting up dedicated queues for the exchange of the commemorative notes. Both banks will also provide priority assistance for the elderly and those with special needs.